For those who care deeply about Hamilton, their story — their legacy — includes planning for the College’s future.

I’m a theatre director, not one of the monied graduates. However, I found that I could leave one of my IRAs to the Kirkland Endowment and benefit future generations of women at Hamilton.

Melanie Sutherland K’79
When Melanie Sutherland came to Kirkland College in 1975, she didn’t just study theatre, she immersed herself in it. She lived in a special interest housing suite with several fellow theatre students, and her professors encouraged her to direct productions outside of her coursework. “Kirkland College supported and encouraged independent thinking and exploration of new ideas - with, obviously, a special focus on women,” Melanie recalls. One semester she did an independent study on Russian playwright Chekov, advised by Professor Carole Bellini-Sharp; another semester, she designed her own course to learn Greek, with a fellow student as her teacher.

After graduating in the first Hamilton-Kirkland merged class, Melanie built a career as a theatre director and event producer in New York City, crediting her years at Kirkland for her creative resourcefulness. “My college experience trained me to figure it out on my own, to make things happen.” Yet while Kirkland remained in her heart, Melanie was otherwise disconnected from life on the Hill, as was the case for many of her fellow Kirkland alumnae.

It was only fitting that theatre drew her back some 15 years later, when her former professor, Carole Bellini-Sharp, reached out and asked her to be a part of the Hamilton College Performing Arts Conference. In 1994, she was invited to fill-in for Professor Bellini-Sharp, directing the fall play. Spending time living and teaching on campus reconnected her to the College in a meaningful way. After that, she frequently returned for theatre events at Fallcoming and reunions, eventually serving on the All-Kirkland Reunion committee in 2015.

During that reunion weekend, Melanie spoke with Director of Gift Planning Ben Madonia about the opportunity of supporting the Kirkland Endowment. Feeling reconnected, and welcomed back to the Hill, Melanie was interested in contributing, but didn’t see it as a realistic possibility for her. That’s when he introduced her to the option of designating Hamilton as an IRA beneficiary.

“I’m a theatre director, not one of the monied graduates. However, I found that I could leave one of my IRAs to the Kirkland Endowment and benefit future generations of women at Hamilton.”

Melanie will give to what matters to her, in a way that works for her. While gift planning conversations begin differently, they end with this same, rewarding –often joyful– resolution.

The Kirkland legacy lives on through its alumnae and the stories they share. Through her IRA beneficiary designation, Melanie’s gift will forever foster the energy and spirit of Kirkland College.
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Name Hamilton as a Beneficiary of your Retirement Plan

Naming Hamilton College as a beneficiary of your retirement plan is the most tax efficient, and flexible way to make a legacy gift to the College and support a purpose that is meaningful to you. As a public charity, Hamilton will receive 100% of the value of your intended gift, allowing you to leave other tax-friendly assets to your heirs. Simply update your beneficiary designation form online or with your retirement plan administrator - it's that easy!

Ways to Give

Susan Skerritt K'77, P'11

Donor Advised Funds

You can establish a charitable giving account managed by Hamilton College from which you can recommend grants to Hamilton and other qualified public charitable organizations.

Jeff and Claudia Little

Charitable Lead Trusts

This gift vehicle allows you to distribute assets to heirs at reduced transfer tax cost. You can establish a charitable lead trust, funded with cash or other assets, to provide payments, either fixed or variable, to Hamilton for a given number of years.

Because Hamilton [Endures]

The Board of Trustees has authorized including future estate gifts in the Because Hamilton campaign as a separate subtotal, for individuals 70 years of age and older. This change, consistent with national standards, allows Hamilton to record, as well as recognize, the bequest intentions of donors during their lifetimes. If you’ve made Hamilton College a beneficiary, please let us know by sending us a memorandum of understanding (PDF).

IRA Charitable Contributions


Did you know that during your lifetime you can make contributions to Hamilton through your IRA? Everyone age 70 1/2 or older of the can benefit from planning a Qualified Charitable Distributions as early as possible in the calendar year.

Let’s Talk

Contact Ben Madonia ’74 at 315-859-4669 or bmadonia@hamilton.edu to discuss how the College can help you with your gift planning needs. Please choose Hamilton College to tell your story and share your legacy.

Contact Information

Ben Madonia

Director of Gift Planning
315-859-4669 bmadonia@hamilton.edu
The Joel Bristol Associates

The Joel Bristol Associates

Hamilton has a long-standing history of benefiting from estate and life payment gifts. Thoughtful alumni, parents, and friends who remember Hamilton in their estate plans, including retirement plan beneficiary designations, or complete planned gifts are recognized and honored as Joel Bristol Associates.

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