Common Ground is Hamilton’s widely acclaimed multi-format program that helps prepare students for lives of active citizenship. Designed to explore cross-boundary political thought and complex social issues, Common Ground brings highly respected thought leaders to the Hamilton campus to participate in small classroom dialogues and large event discussions. Topics intertwined with the College’s curriculum are chosen to foster critical thinking and holistic examination of difficult and often contentious national and global policy issues.

The College is grateful to Mary Helen and Robert Morris ’76, P’16,’17 and Lori and David Hess ’77 for their generous support of Common Ground.

Latest News

John Feehery, Aleigha Cavalier, and Steve Scully

Final Common Ground Examines Hot Topics for Presidential Election

The final Common Ground of the year examined a variety of hot topics that are top of mind for voters in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, including immigration, the economy, and abortion.

Admiral Michelle Howard, Honorable Lawrence Guzman Romo, Jerry Buchanan, Ty Seidule and Connor Williams participate in a Common Ground

Civil Discourse in the Heart of Change, Continuity, and the Confederacy

Five members of the Congressional Naming Commission visited Hamilton on Feb. 7 to discuss their task of removing, modifying, or replacing all Department of Defense assets that commemorate the Confederacy.

The goal is for the speakers to model the kind of respectful dialogue across political boundaries that should occur not just on college campuses, but in the broader society as well.

David Wippman Hamilton College President David Wippman

The hallmark of a liberal arts education has been the constructive debate of ideas. Recent events have seen the constructive portion blunted. Common Ground is a forum to pursue the civil debate of important ideas.

Robert Morris ’76 Rob Morris ’76, P’16, P’17

Previous Speakers

Aleigha Cavalier

Vice President of Mobilization and Campaign Management at Precision Strategies

with John Feehery, moderated by Steve Scully

John Feehery

Partner of EFB Advocacy

with Aleigha Cavalier, moderated by Steve Scully

Matt Cartwright '83

U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania

with Steve Russell, moderated by Mimi Geerges

Steve Russell

president and CEO of JAARS, former U.S. Representative & State Senator from Oklahoma, and Lt. Col, U.S. Army (Ret.)

with Matt Cartwright '83, moderated by Mimi Geerges

Ivory Tower Panelists

Local Academics from the WCNY show

featuring Ty Seidule, Luke Perry, Nina Moore, Rick Fenner, Chad Sparber, and Tara Ross; hosted by Dave Chanatry '80 and moderated by Barbara Fought

Michelle Howard

Retired Admiral, U.S. Navy

with Larry Romo, Jerry Buchanan, and Ty Seidule, moderated by Connor Williams

Jerry Buchanan

Businessman; Member of the Oklahoma State Elections Board

with Michelle Howard, Larry Romo, and Ty Seidule, moderated by Connor Williams

Larry Romo

Former Director, Selective Service System; Retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force

with Michelle Howard, Jerry Buchanan, and Ty Seidule, moderated by Connor Williams

Ty Seidule

Visiting Professor of History; Executive Director of Common Ground

with Michelle Howard, Larry Romo, and Jerry Buchanan, moderated by Connor Williams

Rhiana Gunn-Wright

Director of the Climate Policy Program at the Roosevelt Institute

with Bob Inglis, moderated by Peter Cannavò

Bob Inglis

Executive Director, RepublicEN.org; Former U.S. Representative from South Carolina

with Rhiana Gunn-Wright, moderated by Peter Cannavò

Val Demings

Executive Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; Former U.S. Representative from Florida

with Roy Blunt, moderated by Steve Scully

Roy Blunt

Executive Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; Former U.S. Senator from Missouri

with Val Demings, moderated by Steve Scully

Christine Todd Whitman

Former EPA Administrator to President George W. Bush and Former New Jersey Governor

with Gina McCarthy; moderated by Aaron Strong

Gina McCarthy

Former White House National Climate Advisor, Former EPA Administrator to President Barack Obama

with Christine Todd Whitman; moderated by Aaron Strong

Jason Grumet

Chief Executive Officer of the American Clean Power Association

with George David Banks, moderated by Lesley Jantarasami

George David Banks

Republican Economist and Energy Policy Advocate

with Jason Grumet, moderated by Lesley Jantarasami

Hila Keren

Paul E. Treusch Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

with Dale Carpenter and Eric Olson, moderated by Mike Grygiel '79, P'23

Dale Carpenter

Professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law

with Hila Keren and Eric Olson, moderated by Mike Grygiel '79, P'23

Eric Olson

Former Solicitor General of Colorado

with Dale Carpenter and Hila Keren, moderated by Mike Grygiel '79, P'23

Tom Vilsack ’72

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

with G.T. Thompson, moderated by Edvige Jean-François ’90

G.T. Thompson

Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture

with Tom Vilsack ’72, moderated by Edvige Jean-François ’90

David Brody

Managing attorney of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Digital Justice Initiative

with Shoshana Weissmann, moderated by Robert Martin

Shoshana Weissmann

Director of Digital Media at the R Street Institute

with David Brody, moderated by Robert Martin

Jessica Rich

Former Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Former Head of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Theft

with Brad Weltman, moderated by Stuart Ingis ’93

Brad Weltman

Director of Privacy and Public Policy at Meta

with Jessica Rich, moderated by Stuart Ingis ’93

Andrei Kozyrev

Former foreign minister of Russia

with Nicolai Petro, moderated by Alan Cafruny

Nicolai Petro

Professor of Politics at the University of Rhode Island

with Andrei Kozyrev, moderated by Alan Cafruny

Max Boot

Author, foreign policy expert, and Washington Post columnist

with Ty Seidule and Maurice Isserman

Christina Romer

Former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama administration

with Greg Mankiw, moderated by Ann Owen

Greg Mankiw

Former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush

with Christina Romer, moderated by Ann Owen

John Vecchione ’86

Principal and member of John J. Vecchione, PLLC

with Philip Klinkner

Philip Klinkner

James S. Sherman Professor of Government at Hamilton College

with John J. Vecchione ’86

Richard Banks

Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School

with Julie Park, Jason Riley, and Genevieve Bonadies Torres; moderated by Julie Vultaggio

Julie Park

Associate Professor of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland

with Richard Banks, Jason Riley, and Genevieve Bonadies Torres; moderated by Julie Vultaggio

Jason L. Riley

Wall Street Journal editorial board member and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow

with Richard Banks, Julie Park, and Genevieve Bonadies Torres; moderated by Julie Vultaggio

Genevieve Bonadies Torres

Associate Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

with Richard Banks, Julie Park, and Jason Riley; moderated by Julie Vultaggio

Jim Messina

Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama

with Reince Priebus, moderated by Jackie Judd P’14

Reince Priebus

Former Chief of Staff to President Donald Trump

with Jim Messina

Mike Dubke ’92

Veteran Communications Operative and Former Assistant in the Trump White House

with Marc Elias ’90, moderated by Jackie Judd P’14

Marc Elias ’90

Partner with Perkins Coie, served as general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

with Mike Dubke ’92, moderated by Jackie Judd P’14

Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush

with Susan Rice, moderated by Andrea Mitchell

Susan Rice

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and National Security Advisor to President Obama

with Condoleezza Rice, moderated by Andrea Mitchell

David Axelrod

Former Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor to President Obama

with Karl Rove, moderated by Susan Page

Karl Rove

Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush

with David Axelrod, moderated by Susan Page


Steve Scully

Senior Vice President of Communications, Bipartisan Policy Center; Host of The Briefing podcast

moderated discussion between Aleigha Cavalier and John Feehery; moderated discussion between Val Demings and Roy Blunt

Mimi Geerges

Host of C-SPAN's Washington Journal

moderated discussion between Rep. Matt Cartwright '83 and Steve Russell

Dave Chanatry '80

Professor of Journalism at Utica University and Director of the New York Reporting Project

moderated the discussion with Ivory Tower panelists

Connor Williams

Member of the departments of African American studies and history, Yale University

moderated discussion with members of the Congressional Naming Commission

Peter Cannavò

Chair and Professor of Government

moderated discussion with Rhiana Gunn-Wright and Bob Inglis

Aaron Strong

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

moderated discussion with Christine Todd Whitman and Gina McCarthy

Lesley Jantarasami

Managing Director, Bipartisan Policy Center

moderated clean energy discussion between Jason Grumet and George David Banks

Michael J. Grygiel ’79, P’23

Co-chair, Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s National Media and Entertainment Litigation Group

moderated discussion about free speech and LGBTQ+ rights with Dale Carpenter, Hila Keren, and Eric Olson

Edvige Jean-François ’90

Award-winning, multilingual global journalist

moderated discussion between U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’72 and chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture G.T. Thompson

Rob Martin

Professor of Government

moderated a discussion between David Brody and Shoshana Weissmann

Stuart Ingis ’93

Chair at the law firm Venable and co-chair to its eCommerce, privacy, and cybersecurity segment

moderated a discussion between Jessica Rich and Brad Weltman about privacy and data

Alan Cafruny

Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Relations, Acting Chair German Studies

moderated a discussion between Andrei Kozyrev and Nicolai Petro

Ann Owen

Professor of Economics and the Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Public Policy

moderated a discussion between Greg Mankiw and Christina Romer

Julie Vultaggio

Associate Dean for Strategic Academic Initiatives at Harvard University

moderated panel “Affirmative Action: Support, Critiques, and What’s Lost in the Discussion”

Jackie Judd

Lifelong journalist who reported for ABC News, NPR, and most recently the PBS NewsHour

moderated discussions between Jim Messina and Reince Priebus, and Marc Elias ’90 and Mike Dubke ’92

Andrea Mitchell

NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports

moderated discussion between former national security advisors Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice

Susan Page

Washington bureau chief, USA Today

moderated discussion between political strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Student Perspectives

We recently hired six inaugural Common Ground student assistants to support logistics for Common Ground events, facilitate discussions and more. We can’t wait to introduce our team to you! In the meantime, checkout the student-written stories below to learn about previous events.

Former U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, Former Congresswoman Val Demings and Journalist Steve Scully at Hamilton College for a Common Ground event.

In Pursuit of the Greater Good Amidst Chaos

Val Demings and Roy Blunt, executive fellows from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), visited Hamilton to analyze the nation’s polarized political climate in the semester’s final Common Ground event.

Gina McCarthy, left, shares her thoughts with moderator Aaron Strong, center, and Christine Todd Whitman, right, at the Nov. 6 Common Ground event.

Maintaining Optimism in the Energy Transition

Two former EPA administrators visited College Hill to explore the everyday complexities and impacts of transitioning to renewable energy in this semester’s fourth Common Ground discussion on Nov. 6.

Jason Grumet, left, shares his thoughts with Lesley Jantarasami and George Dave Banks as faculty, staff and students gather to listen to a Common Ground discussion

Paths and Pitfalls to Clean Energy Transition

With their words reverberating through the eaves of the Chapel, the panelists of the semester’s third Common Ground discussion earnestly discussed the realities, complexities, and politics of the clean energy transition in the United States.

From left to right, Mike Grygiel, Eric Olson, Hila Keren and Dale Carpenter lead a Common Ground panel discussion.

At the Intersection of Free Speech and LGBTQ+ Rights

In the second installment of Hamilton’s 2023-24 Common Ground series, moderator Michael J. Grygiel ’79, P’23 united legal experts Eric Olson, Hila Keren, and Dale Carpenter for a discussion on the intersection of free speech and LGBTQ+ rights.

Tom Vilsack ’72, G.T. Thompson, and Edvige Jean-François ’90 in a Common Ground event help in Wellin Hall.

Farm Bill, Bipartisanship Discussed by Vilsack, Thompson at Common Ground

Student sightings of Secret Service agents in academic buildings raised excitement across campus and heralded the arrival of this year’s inaugural Common Ground event, as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’72 was one of the featured speakers.

David Brody, Professor of Government Robert Martin, and Shoshana Weissmann

What Does Freedom Mean in Online Speech? Experts Debate

As algorithms and online platforms come to define our daily lives, how do we navigate the social responsibilities of platforms and our own online freedoms?  These were questions addressed at the Common Ground panel on March 27.


Common Ground

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search