Because Hamilton [Connects Students]

“The special advantage of the residential liberal arts college is the opportunity to develop a program that more purposefully provides a diverse array of students with extensive opportunities for leadership, engagement, and intellectual and personal growth.” — Hamilton College Strategic Plan 2018

The residential liberal arts college is an ideal learning and living environment because it provides so many ways for students to study what they love, be who they are, and find their future. The classroom, studio, and laboratory are central to a student’s intellectual growth, but learning takes place in every corner of a residential campus.

Hamilton, for example, operates like a small city with its own housing, dining, student government, newspaper, health and wellness center, orchestra, athletics program, and art museum. All of these resources, and many others, help students rehearse and prepare for the lives they will lead when they graduate. Because Hamilton creates communities, this campaign will expand the full complement of learning and living opportunities by renovating residence halls, common spaces, and dining options; expanding athletics facilities; introducing an advising network that integrates the efforts of academic, career, and student life advisors; and increasing student programs focused on wellness, leadership, and mentoring.

Living and learning at Hamilton is also about bringing people together, no matter their background, to foster greater understanding. The home school districts and communities in which our students live are largely segregated, neighborhoods are gated, and social media platforms create ideological echo chambers. It is not uncommon for Hamilton students to encounter, for the first time, someone of a different faith, ideology, or background when they matriculate on College Hill. Such is the magic and the opportunity of a Hamilton education. Such is the opportunity to develop future leaders.

But it’s not enough to simply bring people together on a beautiful hilltop in Central New York; we must provide opportunities for students to learn from and about one another, because the problems they will face when they leave College Hill — the polarization they will encounter in the communities where they live after college — can only be solved with a deeper understanding of different people’s views. And there should be no misunderstanding on one fundamental point: The purpose of a Hamilton education is for our graduates to break through those barriers to better the world. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But we expect great things from our students and from our College. Because Hamilton will expand the recently established and widely acclaimed Common Ground program to foster greater discussion around challenging and sometimes polemical issues.

This campaign will make good on our promises to study what you love, be who you are, and find your future by establishing meaningful living and learning communities, providing academic resources that support current pedagogy, bringing together people from different backgrounds, and expanding programs and facilities for wellness and athletics.

Featured Video

Dorm Life

At Hamilton a residence hall is more than just a place to live — it provides opportunities for students to learn from their peers in an environment of community living.


Hamilton prepares students to lead lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. The world needs what Hamilton graduates have to offer.

This course is about learning about connecting with people anywhere in your life, a co-worker or neighbor, whomever.

Andi Dickmeyer ’19 with David Walden
Passionate in her pursuit of identifying and sharing processes to ensure student mental wellbeing, Andi Dickmeyer ’19 spent last summer developing a wellness class to be offered next spring. She began where recent graduate Isabel O’Malley ’18 left off in her research on applying and assessing the effects of a suicide prevention program. O’Malley conducted a gatekeeper training program called College SOS for student leaders and athletes, which was a mental health training workshop to enable friends to help friends with problems. Peer Counselors still provide College SOS to student groups as requested.

Dickmeyer reviewed O’Malley’s findings and then turned to a peer mental health program, titled the Student Support Network (SSN) and originally developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and adopted by schools including Amherst, Boston University, Connecticut College, Oberlin, and Wesleyan, among others. The SSN program is a training course designed to provide college students — who may find themselves in the role of trusted listener or helper for their peers — with knowledge, skills, destigmatizing perspectives, and connection capabilities to help with mental health issues.
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Wellness at Hamilton

The Wellness Program provides information, educational opportunities and a wide range of activities designed to promote personal health and fitness.

The final image is a really cool conglomeration of a whole bunch of different styles of artwork from students — and also very much identifies Hamilton culture as it is now.

Meticulous fingers had snipped the green glass tiles into pieces and fitted them snugly together within an outline of a Kirkland apple. The purple pieces filling in a cow appeared to have been set by a more free-wheeling hand. Such variation is fine, maybe even beautiful, in the eyes of Irina Rojas ’18, who came up with the idea of the Hamilton community mosaic mural. “The ultimate goal is for everyone on campus to put one tile on,” she says.

Rojas, a peer counselor trained by the Counseling Center to work with students on a range of issues, approached Student Assembly in October to propose the creation of a collaborative mural. She saw the project as a way to promote healing and bring students together as they processed several deaths in the campus community that had occurred in the preceding months. The assembly backed the idea, as did Dean of Students Terry Martinez. The ensuing mural is one element of overall College efforts to support student mental wellness.

Students submitted ideas for the design; six had their work incorporated. “Irina thought it would be a really good idea if it was students contributing in very personalized ways,” says Assembly President Nadav Konforty ’20.
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Community Mosaic

“We really thought the goal of it was that it could be an outlet for people, an artistic outlet. One that would also, after it was done, be able to be mounted and seen by a large part of campus as a constant reminder of the strength of our community.” — Nadav Konforty ’20

The goal was not to be distracted by the areas where we didn’t agree but be very laser focused on the areas where we did agree.

Barbara Stein K’72
In the 1990s, technology, as ever, was advancing apace, and the corporate and education sectors each were pondering a concern: Were public schools preparing students to succeed in a world dominated by information technology? Barbara Stein K’72 has devoted much of her career to answering such questions, and she’s had a hand in shaping technology policy that’s influenced schools around the country. But first she had to unite factions. For instance, two of the players were the National Education Association, Stein’s employer, and Apple, whose co-founder Steve Jobs would sometimes opine against teacher unions.

Stein led NEA initiatives in technology, and to that end she needed to build partnerships with corporations, the federal government, and other entities. The education policy expert remembers working closely with Apple education staff on big-picture issues of schools and technology in 2007 when Jobs declared in a speech that teacher unions were what’s wrong with education today. Her phone started buzzing. “Everybody was crazed,” she recalls.

But because her working relationship was solid with the Apple education people, they worked through the turmoil. “There was enough trust and enough accomplishment together that when a crisis arose, it wasn’t such a big issue,” she says.

Stein led the NEA in developing online learning, working with a divergent group to encourage innovation and quality. “The world expected us to be knee jerk against it, but instead I led an effort to get us involved from the perspective of establishing quality criteria,” she explains.
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Learning and Living

Hamilton brings together people with different ideas and provides opportunities for leadership, personal growth, and wellness