Robert L. Simon
The 2018 Bell Ringer Award was presented posthumously to Robert Simon, the Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, who died on May 31, 2018. His wife Joy and son Bruce Simon ’91 accepted the award.
When Bob Simon learned last year that the College was naming its new golf facility in his honor, he admitted to feeling a bit embarrassed. “But if it shows that I made a contribution to the College and to Hamilton students,” he said, “I’m really happy about it, and I’m grateful for it.” We hope he would feel the same about being recognized today, because his contributions to Hamilton as a teacher, scholar, mentor, coach, and fan are incalculable.
As a scholar of the philosophy of sport, Professor Simon brought prestige to Hamilton. His work on sports ethics was renowned, and he was widely interviewed, quoted, consulted, and published. In 2016, the Journal of the Philosophy of Sports devoted an entire issue to his work in recognition of the remarkable influence he had in the field. That was the first time the journal honored anyone in that way. His other honors and accomplishments are considerable, among them the presidency of the Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport, fellowships with the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and membership on the advisory and editorial boards of the NCAA Scholarly Colloquium on College Sports.
In The Ethics of Sport, What Everyone Needs to Know, Bob thanked his Hamilton students, praising them as true student-athletes who exemplify a theme of the book — sports as a mutual quest for excellence. However, we’re certain that Hamilton students across decades are the ones thanking their former professor for teaching them by example, both in and out of the classroom. For 14 seasons, Bob coached the Continentals varsity golf team, years that included participation in NCAA championships. He was a supportive fan of Hamilton’s other teams and a pillar of the women’s basketball program. Bob and Joy never let winter weather deter them from road games, and senior players treasure the scrapbooks Joy made for them each year.
As President Wippman put it, Bob Simon’s life and career personified everything that Hamilton represents: superb teaching, groundbreaking scholarship, loyalty, friendship, and character. So today, although our hearts are heavy that he cannot be here to share his infectious personality, his quick wit, and the occasional tale of triumph or woe from the golf course, we are ever grateful nonetheless to remember and honor him with the Bell Ringer Award.
Gordon D. Kaye ’74
President, Alumni Association
June 9, 2018