1973 Kirkland Class Annalist’s Letter
The Times, They Were A-Changin’:
A Mosaic of Memories from K’73
[Approach the stage as the first stanza of “The Age of Aquarius” plays]
Yes, it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, and the times, they were a-changin’.
When we entered Kirkland more than half a century ago, it was the “times” of the Vietnam War and the draft, President Nixon’s election, a man on the moon, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the Civil Rights movement, dissent, civil disobedience, race riots, the Pill, and a strong counterculture with hippies, free love, marijuana, and psychedelic drugs. A time of Hair, Woodstock, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendricks, the Beatles, and the emergence of women’s rights.
Into these a-changin’ times, enter Kirkland College:
Conceived in 1962, a period of prosperity, with strong federal support for education and when Robert McEwen was president of Hamilton College;
Born a few years later, in 1968, as the economy had started to weaken, democratic and social patterns were shifting, and rebellion against the status quo was commonplace;
A coordinate college for Hamilton, where students of both genders expected to benefit from the best of both worlds;
An aspirational college for women, where women were encouraged to be themselves, explore their interests, be creative, direct their own learning, participate in college governance, and learn to think, analyze, write, and speak effectively;
Also, a college not yet half built, often bustling with more construction workers than students.
In sum, a college with change and optimism in the air (and mud frequently underfoot) — a college that drew adventurous and courageous risk-takers.
What attracted our class to Kirkland?
Enter two articles, cited by many of our classmates as the reasons they started to look seriously at Kirkland.
The first appeared in a Time magazine education supplement titled “When You Send Your Daughter to College, Will She Get an Education?” It described a Kirkland education as offering women a unique and “mind-expanding experience” (remember the times).
The second, a New York Times article headlined “Hamilton College Gets Campus ‘Mate’,” focused nicely on Kirkland’s spirit of pioneering and complementary curriculum … while not getting “in the way” of Hamilton men. (A Los Angeles Times article went further, predicting that Kirkland would have a “civilizing effect” on Hamilton!)
This dichotomy — between Kirkland as an independent entity of intrepid young women and Kirkland as a needed companion for Hamilton — followed us in different ways throughout our years on the Hill. We resonated strongly with Kirkland as a place for women, where an innovative, progressive education included small classes, individual attention, self-directed, and interdisciplinary learning, a focus on the arts, written evaluations instead of grades, and an emphasis on all kinds of writing that included papers, papers, and more papers! Many of us regarded Hamilton as a traditional, sturdy (if occasionally stuffy) counterpart to our more liberal educational inquiry.
While we were on campus, the two perspectives tended to complement each other, for the most part, but not without some ultimately predictable (and occasionally amusing) conflicts along the way.
But let’s back up for a moment. Why specifically did we select Kirkland in the first place?
For many, the allure of pioneering and helping to pave the way for a utopian college experience was clear. For others, quirky or practical reasons prevailed.
Gretchen Bath was impressed with the “independent, experimental philosophy and curriculum.” She said that coming to Kirkland was “the best decision of my life.”
Marsha Hedrick was debating between Wellesley and Kirkland when she read that Wellesley girls played bridge after dinner. She did not know how to play bridge, so she picked Kirkland. Really! Per Marsha, “… that’s how a 17-year-old brain works!”
From Manitoba, Canada, Paula Cohen remembers reading about a debate between Kirkland and Hamilton titled “Women Should Be Barefoot, Pregnant, and In the Kitchen” — a debate that, somehow, Kirkland won. Whereupon she forfeited her deposit to Bard to accept Kirkland, an 11th-hour decision she has never regretted.
Alice Hildebrand did not want to attend college; she wanted something “more authentic.” But after receiving recognition for her poetry, the unique opportunity to major in creative writing won her over. She also appreciated Kirkland as a place for “people who stood somewhat apart.”
For me, the opportunity to cap 12 years of Catholic schooling with an expansive college experience was very attractive.
Perhaps the best admission story, however, belongs to Gretchen Van Utt. In her words, “I was smitten with Kirkland (yes, a school I had not yet seen), so I submitted the required ‘preliminary application’ and scheduled an interview. Then, just a few weeks later, I received that dreaded ‘thin envelope’ in the mail. I was rejected, and my interview was cancelled!
“Now, I was not a confident or courageous 17-year-old, but I really wanted to go to Kirkland and was willing to look foolish for the chance. So, I mustered up just enough courage to write back and say ‘No’ to the ‘No.’ I told them why I thought they should reconsider their decision and let them know that I would be there for the interview and that I would persist. And over the next several months I did persist, they listened, I interviewed, and they changed their mind. I had the dubious distinction of being, perhaps, the only Kirkland graduate who was rejected by Kirkland.”
Now, from Kirkland’s perspective …
According to the Director of Admission Carole Walker, our class was “much smarter” than the Charter Class! We were chosen for outstanding academic achievement, high class rank, and high SAT scores. As quoted in The Spectator (so we know it’s true), Carole exclaimed: “The girls are very diverse and very different types — from the reserved, studious type to the flamboyant. … One girl, in particular, had an unusual talent — playing the bagpipes.” She added that, as a result of both the Time and New York Times articles, the geographical distribution was more diverse. She concluded that the applicants for the second class “are more highly qualified than the Charter Class,” to which Donna Orenstein Kerner, a member of the Charter Class, reportedly replied, “What are we, chopped liver?”
Yet, our class would accept those kudos, thank you, as we soon lost attention in favor of the Charter Class. They received and wore distinctive green hard hats that we did not. Articles in Life magazine and the LA Times focused on the Charter Class. Speakers spoke about the Charter Class. Always the Charter Class.
What were we, chopped liver?
Our first days, first semester, and first year produced a Mosaic of Memories from our class.
Kristin Wambold recalls that she and her twin, Robin, travelled to campus from Kansas City wearing identical dotted Swiss powder blue suits with ruffles on the wrists, stockings, and white Mary Jane shoes. “By the time we got to the College it was dinner time, so the jitney driver dropped us off directly at McEwen. You can imagine the stares and silence when we got in line for dinner. We swore we’d never wear those outfits or the same thing again.”
Caroline Baum, upon entering her room in D dorm, found her roommate’s skis, ice skates, hockey sticks, tennis racket, etc. Caroline was a bit taken aback — she did not consider herself anywhere near an athlete and wondered about Mrs. Bouch’s matching skill. Ultimately, she was relieved to find that the resident director had made a great match anyway!
In another tribute to Mrs. Bouch, Theresa Burkhart is still friends with her first and only roommate … a half century later!
The dorm, dining hall, and classroom furnishings were fabulous. They were all new, brightly colored, often accented by bright Marimekko fabrics. The colors were a great foil for the Ben Thompson brutalist architecture, with poured concrete walls and waffle ceilings. And there was this amazing circular rock swing, not bolted down, at the entry to the dining hall!
Virtually everyone remembers our bagpiper, Elyn Cheney, leading the opening procession as well as every other procession over the years. Of note — after her graduation, a donor established an endowed scholarship fund for a College piper in her honor.
Several of us remember an early-morning anthropology class held in the classroom on the first floor of Major dorm. As Kirkland encouraged a close link between life and learning, we complied … and wore our pjs, robes, and slippers to class!
Regarding early classes, Laurie Ash admitted, “I was surprised to find that 8 a.m. classes on 18th-century poetry can be stimulating! I also remember the … gin-n-juice parties beginning almost as early as the poetry classes!”
Our freshman year courses were dominated by core courses, often lectures in large halls on the Hamilton campus. I recall that they were interesting enough but not riveting. During the core courses first semester, I knit scarves for all of the men in my family and crocheted scarves for all of the women, gifting them for Christmas. Then, during our sophomore year and after some debate, core courses were abolished. Our curricula evolved, as did our campus, thanks to shared governance that included student input.
Enter our memories of administrators and faculty …
Kirkland’s president, Samuel Fisher Babbitt, who invited everyone to call him Sam, is remembered as an exceptionally bright, personable, and effective administrator and friend. With energy, integrity, skill, diplomacy, and good humor, he navigated the often choppy waters of establishing a new college. In addition to inspiring us all, dealing with myriad practical and personnel matters, coordinating with Hamilton, fundraising endlessly, and teaching classes, Sam made time to be an actor and champion of the environment.
He acted with the Charlatans, a campus theater group, and with The Hill Company, an area theater group. In February 1973, our senior year, he played the title role in Don Juan in Hell. Sam also was very supportive of courses focusing on ecology and the earth. He looked hard for donors who were of the same mind, once asking Elyn Cheney, our bagpiper, botany major, and later College trustee, to visit a potential donor who had an enormous garden, “a veritable jungle” on top of the building where he lived in New York. Elyn reported, “It was an honor to have the chance to visit with him.” We assume that he became a very generous donor.
Natalie Babbitt, Sam’s wife, made a deep impression on students in her Children’s Book Illustration class. She was an exceptional author and illustrator herself, very creative and open, so her classes were never lacking in inspiration. Remarkably, Natalie brought her good friend Maurice Sendak, the famous children’s book illustrator, to the class for a week. Sendak gained international acclaim for his 1963 book Where the Wild Things Are, but judiciously did not try to compare it to life on the Hill!
Many professors on both sides of the road are remembered as excellent, enthusiastic teachers and mentors. Random examples are Selma Burkom, who taught writing exceptionally well, and Bill Rosenfeld (recently passed), who chaired our Arts Department and created one of the nation’s first undergraduate creative writing programs, which he carried over to Hamilton after the “merger.”
Another admired professor was Bob Palusky, who taught ceramics and glassblowing, including the science of glaze chemistry; he expected impeccable craftsmanship and gave tough critiques while encouraging students to stretch their skills.
Philosophy professors Russell Blackwood and Bob Simon, music professor Stephen Bonta, and visiting lecturer in poetry Denise Levertov ably transmitted love of their subjects to their students. Professor Jeremy Medina taught a very fine course on Latin American history, and Spanish professor Jose Tato memorably told his students about his experiences as an immigrant from Cuba. A favorite interdisciplinary course was Literature and Art History taught by professors George Bahlke and Ralph Lieberman. French professor Frank Hamlin, leader of the 1971-72 Hamilton Junior Year in France program, was described as “bubbly, humorous, and wise … and he loved to have fun.”
Many of us met with professors in the dining hall or at Bristol Campus Center and occasionally were invited to their homes or on outings. Notably, many professors were not much older than we were and were students themselves finishing doctoral dissertations.
Finally, we will never forget Joe Mason, the ever-popular custodian who used to call out loudly “Man on the floor!” whenever he entered a dormitory hall or suite. He was kindly protective, warning us about upcoming snowstorms and scolding us for not being dressed for the weather, helping us with heavy lifting, and packing cars at the end of the year.
Our Mosaic of Memories extends to life outside of academics.
We on first floor Major bonded during the first weeks and while exploring campus found the kitchen in McEwen to be open at night. Well, we considered that allowable access and retrieved many gallons of ice cream, bringing them back to the dorm for late-night treats. Such a perk of this new school! Eventually, however, the kitchen staff wised up and locked the kitchen doors when they left. Oops! Perhaps they did not sanction our late-night raids after all!
Bike riding was enjoyed by many. It sped up the travel time between campuses, and biking on the rural, hilly roads around campus served as a needed break. And how safe we felt! Even in the middle of the night, in total darkness, we could walk or bike between campuses, from the library across campus to our far dorms, and feel perfectly safe. Many of us have not felt similarly safe since then.
Other breaks from campus life included Kirkland Glen and Clinton. Kirkland Glen, for us, was a wild and woolly counterpart to the more cultivated Root Glen. It offered a place to decompress, meditate, wander, cross the stream on rocks, and immerse ourselves in nature. We even discovered a Tarzan swing across the stream! And, it served as a practice room for a bagpiper apprenticing to Elyn Cheney when her suitemates banished her to the glen to practice!
Students found various reasons to go into Clinton. The bakery was a popular place for very early-morning trips to buy warm raisin bread or glazed donuts. In the fall, the Cider Mill offered fresh cider and cider donuts. Few students had cars, so our jitney provided transportation up and down the hill. Hitchhiking also was popular from the front of ELS to the village and back up from a designated spot beside College Hill Road. Like walking in the dark, hitchhiking felt very safe.
Fashion factored into our Mosaic of Memories.
And I use the word fashion very broadly. We “Kirkies” wore miniskirts, maxi skirts, Indian print dresses, tie-dyed T-shirts, baggy flannel shirts, bell bottoms with wide belts, overalls, jean jackets, optional bras, work boots, clogs, flip-flops, and carpenter pants (that, according to Theresa Burkhart, “somehow disguised the freshman 15, for a while at least”).
For a final fashion moment, freshman year, just before Thanksgiving, Linda Mensch was inspired to put on the prom dress she had brought from home, exhort the rest of first floor Major to do the same, and then parade around the dorm before taking these dresses home for good. We knew that prom dresses no longer were the fashion of the day.
No Mosaic of Memories would be credible without the mention of snow.
Everyone recalls the snow, especially during our first winter when the snow covered the tops of cars in the parking lots, and then our last spring when it snowed the day before graduation with cherry blossoms on the trees! Sam Babbitt even used a snowmobile to get to work.
A few years later, I recall staying on campus in December, after the last paper was due, to take the LSAT, and it snowed and blew so heavily the night before that the maintenance crew had to dig a tunnel to get us out of the dorm.
Finally, Caroline and I recall fondly traipsing to Mass through drifts of snow in the silence of Sunday mornings, and there are many stories about cruising and crashing while tray-sliding down the hill to Bristol.
What about sports at Kirkland?
Comfort Richardson, identified throughout Spectators as “Mrs. Channing B. Richardson,” was the head of Kirkland sports. When we arrived, she offered opportunities to play field hockey, ride, sail, and swim. According to an article in The Spectator (so we know it’s true), “The famed fourth place [intramural] swim team is keeping in shape to take at least third place this year.”
Kirkland’s tennis team did exceptionally well. The “girls”* — Woody Root K’72, Anne Hart, Donna Sontheimer K’72, and Susan Valentine — were the stars. In the fall, the team beat Cazenovia, Utica College, Colgate, and Wells before losing to Syracuse.
The following year, Comfort offered a more comprehensive and informal sports program, which included volleyball, basketball, tennis, field hockey, swimming, and skiing. Kirkland swimmers had to change in the small faculty locker room where there was no hair dryer. Hamilton had no women faculty members until our senior year.
* Of special note is how Spectator articles, written by Kirkland as well as Hamilton students, referred to us as Kirkland girls, not women, until April of 1971.
Enter professional speakers and performances on campus.
Hamilton and Kirkland managed to attract some nationally influential speakers during the four years we were there. Timothy Leary, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Ambassador Philip Jessup (Hamilton Class of 1919), Bill Russell, and Dick Gregory all spoke to generally captivated audiences. Rep. Al Lowenstein spoke at the April 15, 1970, Moratorium on behalf of the Hamilton-Kirkland Vietnam Moratorium Committee.
Other speeches were delivered by Rep. Julian Bond, radical lawyer William Kunstler, Kate Millett (author of The Prostitution Papers), and Jesse Jackson. When Timothy Leary spoke, per the Spectator (again, so we know it’s true), he gave a “stoned, stream-of-consciousness address.” By contrast, Jesse Jackson gave a substantive, inspiring talk. Bill Russell spoke about sports and life. From all of our speakers, it is clear that we enjoyed hearing about a wide range of viewpoints and experiences.
As for musical concerts, we attracted some heavyweights. During our freshman year, Sly and the Family Stone and Laura Nyro performed for houseparty weekends. Later, Livingston Taylor and Sha Na Na thrilled us with their concerts. In addition, when the Youngbloods cancelled two days before a scheduled concert, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention filled in. I note that Frank Zappa and band appeared for the whopping pay of … wait for it … $3,500!
Yes, Hamilton and Kirkland did attract A-list speakers and performers!
Then, there were the yearly folk festivals, classical concerts, and one special film. Acclaimed by many, the folk festivals drew excellent, talented musicians and were great because the musicians were more spontaneous. For classical music, the yearly concerts by the Paris Chamber Orchestra were consistently magnificent, and the College Choir, with both Hamilton and Kirkland students, gave memorable performances.
No compilation of performance memories would be credible without mention of the November opening of The Sterile Cuckoo, a movie by producer-director Alan Pakula with the break-out performance by Liza Minnelli, filmed primarily on the Hamilton campus the year before we arrived.
Friendly dogs were another source of entertainment.
Ziggy, Carlin Vickery’s small and long dog, greeted me as I pulled up to campus. Olive and Patches were campus dogs who liked belly rubs. Olive even was known to hitchhike down and up the Hill!
Over time, the number of dogs on campus appeared to grow, and governing groups tried to promulgate rules about their behavior, even formally banning six dogs by name from continuing to show up uninvited in the dining halls. Not comprehending the rules, the dogs showed up anyway. One student, whose room was on the ground floor, kept her window wide open so her shepherd named Khrushchev could come and go at will, tracking in mud and snow and letting in frigid air.
Yes, dogs added character to the campus.
Our Mosaic of Memories during freshman year and beyond was framed by the political and social world outside of campus that continued to roil.
The draft inserted itself uneasily into campus life. The bombing of Cambodia and the shooting of anti-war demonstrators at Kent State led to loud protests on campuses across the country, and the Moratorium movements gained full momentum.
On our campus, it was very unusual, but our faculty and administration were on the same side as the students. There were no revolts against the administration, as elsewhere. We marched together into Clinton for a rally on the village green, listened to rousing speeches denouncing the war, and walked peacefully back up the hill. The local police had imported special forces anticipating violence, but they were not needed.
Classes were cancelled, with some opposition, and finals were made optional. This was a time when the democratic self-governance process at Kirkland became a bit chaotic, but everything ultimately worked out. The times were tumultuous and distracting, and clearly, they were a-changin’!
During this same spring, the first Earth Day was observed, the Afro-American Culture Center opened, the Women’s Center prospered, and the Black Student Union protested discrimination limiting minority rights and voter registration. Abortion was a hot topic. Natalie Babbitt and other “faculty wives” spoke publicly about taking the issue out of the hands of government and leaving the decision between the woman and her doctor. (Does this sound all too familiar a half century later?)
That year New York State legalized abortion and soon Planned Parenthood established a foothold on campus. This was important to Kirkland women, who infamously did not receive sensitive or adequate health care from Dr. “Death” Roe at the campus health center.
A few more stories about life on campus contained in our Mosaic of Memories …
Our collective memory includes a multitude of conversations throughout both campuses and quite a few parties in a variety of spaces that often smelled of Utica Club beer and a certain kind of smoke. Fraternities were very active at the time. In this context, it is surprising that, in survey responses and conversations, no one had mentioned the Fanguitos. Perhaps those aromatic gatherings in the fields below campus now are considered better forgotten?
Yet, many of our classmates commented with nostalgia about the old library stacks. Musty, womb-like, and effective places to study, we missed them when they were replaced by large study rooms in the new library after Truax was torn down.
Laurie Ash offers the following story. “In [the fall of our first year], there were rules about men in the dorm after a certain time in the evening. One of our floormates in Minor had a boyfriend from out of town, and we thought he must have peed out the window to avoid the group bathroom. I remember that we were not judgmental about each other’s choices, and we found the support we needed.”
Caroline Baum found it weird to be the only female in Intro to Music at Hamilton. In particular, she found it embarrassing when, during the required group singing, her lone voice was an octave higher than everyone else’s.
Hallmarks of a Kirkland education included independent, interdisciplinary, and off-campus study, proving that Kirkland was way ahead of its time. They showed up in particular during Winter Study, study abroad (usually but not always during junior year), and senior projects.
During Winter Study, newly established freshman year, students chose such eclectic experiences as learning botanical illustration in Australia, covering a semester’s worth of language study in three weeks at the School for International Training in Vermont, reading utopian literature and teaching oneself to ice skate at the Hamilton rink, working for the Connecticut Public Expenditure Council to redraw district lines per the recent census, writing a bibliography of PCBs (a forever chemical), conducting science experiments, writing, producing artwork, dancing, performing music, etc. We took advantage of the freedom offered and produced very intriguing and innovative work.
Study abroad was encouraged and popular. Eterna Del Pozzo, Mary Dillon K’74, Sarah Lively, and I went on the Hamilton Junior Year in France with nine Class of ’73 Hamilton men (including Steve Bowman, Tim Brooks, Jim English, Alan Friedman, Fred Gitner, Kurt Marfurt, Bruce Rinker, Andy Schoenholtz, and John Villios) and approximately 30 students from other colleges and universities throughout the country. We spent the first six weeks in the seaside town of Biarritz (university in France did not begin until the middle of October) and the rest of the year in Paris, with many group and individual excursions. This was another “mind-expanding experience.” We lived with Parisian families, attended different universities, communicated with home only via letters that took 7-10 days to arrive, and traveled widely. Personally, I took classes primarily at Science Po, traveled around France to visit Gothic cathedrals and Roman churches in connection with a fabulous Middle Ages Art and Architecture course, spent Christmas vacation in Italy, spring vacation behind the Iron Curtain in Poland and the Soviet Union, and called Paris home. It definitely was one of the most enlightening and enjoyable years of my life. Other students spent time abroad in various countries around the world and also benefited tremendously, in myriad ways, from the experiences.
Senior projects culminated our personalized and focused Kirkland education and covered a wide range of interests and skills, often with benefits later in our careers. Topics included the Federal Theater Project, a New Deal effort during the Depression; André Malraux, a French novelist, art theorist, and minister of cultural affairs; Celestina, a fictional Spanish witch; Alfred Kazan, a famous New York City writer and literary critic; and The Political Power of the Polish Peasant. One student crafted a series of bronze masks. Another wrote Place Poems, exploring the concept that events happen in different ways partially dependent on where they happen.
Earning a vote of confidence …
As part of its effort to earn full accreditation, which could not happen until it graduated its first class, Kirkland engaged in an in-depth self-study, and in February 1972 hosted a women’s conference titled What to Do with a Women’s College in a Sexist Society? The participants concluded that the goal should be to assist students to be critical thinkers and autonomous beings, free of past negative conditioning, and able to act in relation to society with realistic confidence.
As a result of the accreditation process, in October 1972, an Evaluation Team Report stated that “Kirkland College, its administration, faculty, and students, are to be congratulated on the rapid progress they have made during the past four years in creating and establishing their institution. In this relatively short time, the college has been able to develop a definite identity and characteristic style, and has become a coherent as well as cohesive unit. It is, furthermore, on the whole a happy place. Student morale is high, and the entire college is imbued with an air of openness and camaraderie which compliments its extraordinarily beautiful facilities and physical setting.”
Kirkland received full accreditation, with great fanfare, two months later, in December 1972.
For many women, Kirkland changed or strengthened their values in a move toward feminism, progressive politics, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, environmentalism, and spirituality. Judy Barnett Nauseef summed up our outlooks shortly before graduation in the spring of 1973. “We all had great plans, more short-term than long. Semesters away to study and learn. Friendships and relationships we expected to keep. Diplomas we hoped to earn. All underscored by our belief that Kirkland would always be there.”
Our graduation was non-traditional in many ways.
It took place under a tent on the slight hill in back of Babbitt dorm. Instead of caps and gowns, the graduates wore apparel of their own choosing. Most took advantage of the open mic to express appreciation for their education or to make other remarks. In his book, Limited Engagement, Sam Babbitt wrote that the commencement speaker, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, chaplain of Yale University, “exhorted us all to examine our own and our nation’s consciences and to act against the dark instincts that drive us to think that we can bring enlightenment to all the world. He urged us to ‘decide that we have the stamina to endure the darkness and the cold and live in the wintery world as the first swallows of a new spring.’”
We left in great spirits, but within a few years we began to hear rumblings of a “merger” between Hamilton and Kirkland. We wondered how this could happen less than five years after earning full accreditation, especially when coordination appeared to be working better and better. Our period of confident optimism had been so brief! We learned that the primary reasons for the euphemistically termed “merger” were a lack of money and opposition to coordinate education from Hamilton’s President J. Martin Carovano. Along with several of our classmates still closely connected to Kirkland as trustees, Alumni Council members, and employees, many alumnae lobbied heavily against the “merger,” to no avail.
One consolation was to recognize all the philosophical, academic, and social ways in which Hamilton had changed to imitate Kirkland. Hamilton developed a tremendous arts program, self-directed and interdisciplinary studies, an open curriculum, a focus on creative learning, and a much more intriguing and convenient social scene. It has been said that Kirkland saved Hamilton from itself. Hamilton students now learn in much the same way Kirkland students used to learn. In his farewell letter, Sam Babbitt mentioned the hundreds of letters that had poured in. He considered them a loyal testimony to Kirkland’s effectiveness. “No one who has seen these can say that this college has failed. On the contrary, Kirkland has clearly succeeded.”
It is very interesting that, since graduation, 14 of our classmates married Hamilton men. Nine of the women in our class, including me, sent our children to Hamilton. And, in a show of support, 24 of our Hamilton classmates saw fit to send their children to the co-ed Hamilton that held Kirkland values high.
Nevertheless, as a class, we suffered a bit. While we were still undergraduates, as stated earlier, we trailed in the wake of the Charter Class. Although members of the faculty and administration did their best to guide us individually if we asked for help, there was no established or comprehensive support system for students. For example, most of us had minimal or no career or graduate school counseling. After graduation, we heard relatively little from the College, very few of us returned to campus for any reason, including reunions, and our class has had the smallest participation in alumnae giving. A review of the Hamilton/Kirkland yearbooks by a Hamilton alum concluded that a common culture between the campuses was not established until 1974, a year after we left. And after the “merger,” a number of classmates requested no communication from Hamilton, or they failed to update their contact information. Eventually, the Class of ’73 became known as the Lost Class.
What we did is to scatter to live all over the world, to establish meaningful, impactful, and satisfying careers and loving partnerships, in some cases to have children and eventually grandchildren, to cherish friendships, to be active in our communities, to maintain our dreams, and to keep learning always.
Those of us who have stayed in touch or who have reconnected recently can remind each other with pride and gratitude that we are not lost. Our personalized education was indeed “a sign of the times,” those turbulent, disturbing, but ultimately inspiring and reinforcing times. We arrived at Kirkland as optimistic, curious, and idealistic students. We left as more mature and courageous risk-takers, determined to make a positive difference in the world.
Yes, the times, they were a-changin’ and so were we, greatly influenced by what we learned as pioneers at Kirkland.
Connie Belfiore K’73 pioneered not only at Kirkland, but also as a woman federal prosecutor, bar association leader, and executive director for nonprofits. After a judicial clerkship, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., trying more than 150 cases and pioneering efforts to create Crime Victims Assistant Units in federal and local prosecutor’s offices across the country, and to eliminate organized prostitution from the streets of DC. She also pioneered efforts to provide free legal services to the underserved in her county, to develop cutting-edge judicial education programs on a national level, and to enable better work/life balance in the legal profession. She has spoken at national conferences, published articles, and edited books on these subjects.
Toward the end of her paid work life, Connie served in a Quaker elementary school as interim head and director of advancement and admission. She has been married for 45 years, has two sons, including Joseph Dominguez ’09, and a grandchild. Her niece is Emily Sherry ’14. In addition to her work with the half-century class annalist letter, Connie served as co-chair of the K’73 50th Reunion Planning Committee.