Kennedy Center dedication
Making it official with the snip of their shears at the Kennedy Center dedication were (from left) President Joan Hinde Stewart, Professor of Music Sam Pellman, Gene ’49 and Loretta Romano, Linda Johnson ’80, Kevin ’70 and Karen Kennedy, Claudia and Jeff Little ’71, P’04 and Steve Sadove ’73, P’07,’10,’13, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Kennedy Center opens with artistic flair

The sun reflecting off its windows made it sparkle. The ribbon cutting made it official. Hamilton dedicated the new Kevin and Karen Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts during Fallcoming and Family Weekend in October. As students and faculty members led tours through the new spaces already in use, the dedication ceremony marked a time to celebrate many of those who made possible the $46.8 million project.

The building is named in honor of Kevin Kennedy ’70, life trustee and board chairman emeritus, and his wife, Karen, in recognition of their lifetime giving to the College, including $10 million for the center. Kevin, who was an art major at Hamilton before going on to a successful career in finance, spoke at the event, emphasizing the importance of a liberal arts education. “I submit that learning to think creatively and critically, and to write and speak effectively, matters more than one’s grade in accounting, computer science or art,” he told those gathered.

Kennedy recounted how his advisor, the late Economics Professor Sidney Wertimer, encouraged him to major in art and take dance as well as accounting. “Sidney believed in the benefits of a liberal arts education and urged me to test myself in unfamiliar fields, and I thank him to this day.”

Among the showcase facilities in the Kennedy Center is the 175-seat “blackbox” theatre named in honor of F. Eugene Romano ’49 in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the College, which include a $2.5 million gift for the theatre. Romano and his wife, Loretta, together with their family, have dedicated much of their lives to improving the Mohawk Valley through their Utica-based businesses and philanthropy. The smaller lab theatre is named in honor of Edwin Barrett, professor of English and drama from 1950 to 1987. An inspired teacher of Shakespeare, he was an advisor to the Charlatans and the first chair of the Theatre and Dance Department.

Linda Johnson ’80, who chaired both the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Buildings, Grounds and Equipment and its Subcommittee on Arts Facilities, was recognized during the weekend with the Jeff Little ’71 Volunteer of the Year Award. The Kennedy Center’s exhibition gallery is named in her honor for the vision and leadership she offered from planning through completion of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art and the Kennedy Center.

Not only do the interior facilities offer flexible, state-of-the-art workspaces; the landscaping that surrounds the Kennedy Center includes a pond and central amphitheatre that invite study and collaboration to spill outdoors. The green space is named in honor of Jeff ’71 and Claudia Little P’04, whose generosity made its design and completion possible.

More than a dozen years after planning began, the center gives Hamilton’s student and faculty artists what they needed most — space. Modern performing and studio arts on the Hill have always been highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. Now the resources are in place for students and teachers to be on the front line of dynamic exploration.

Theatre major Wynn Van Dusen ’15 told the crowd gathered at the dedication that when she first toured Hamilton, she’d been told there might be a new theatre by the time she graduated. She is thrilled to see that prediction come true. “The Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts is the cherry on top of a really wonderful time spent at Hamilton,” Van Dusen said. “A multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art cherry. To get to call this space my classroom, my performance space and my home for this next coming year is a privilege not to mention an invaluable learning experience.”

Leading the charge for change

Hamilton has gained entrance to a consortium of “Changemaker Campuses” that make social innovation a priority and prepare students to take on entrenched global challenges. Hamilton is one of only 30 colleges and universities worldwide to earn the distinction from Ashoka U, an affiliate of Ashoka, an international network of social entrepreneurs.

The Changemaker designation, awarded after a thorough application process, means that Hamilton faculty members and students can share ideas and draw on the experience of other campuses and more than 3,000 Ashoka Fellows worldwide. The recognition coincides with the College’s belief that it should prepare students not just to enter the world, but also to change it, President Joan Hinde Stewart noted when Hamilton announced the news in September.

The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center fuels social innovation at Hamilton in a variety of ways, helping students develop qualities of a changemaker: creativity, understanding, self-awareness and empathy. Its Social Innovation Fellows program encourages students to develop projects and then backs the most promising ideas with the funding and support necessary to carry them out. The center’s new Social Innovation Lab, with its comfortable seating and white board walls, is designed for group brainstorming as students collaborate on issues about which they are passionate. 

“Hamilton’s educational mission is not just on College Hill, but off the hill, into the valley and within communities where our students learn in ways they cannot on campus alone,” says Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Pat Reynolds. “Being a Changemaker Campus recognizes how our faculty, staff and students effect change in contemporary ways that resonate with our historic record of alumni engagement in public service and societal development.”

According to Ashoka, the Changemaker Campus consortium is a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities who commit to advancing social innovation at their campus and beyond, from admission and the curriculum, to career services and alumni engagement. “The educational goals of students are changing,” says Ashoka U’s executive director Marina Kim. “These student demands add a new dimension to the call for innovation in higher education: How can colleges and universities foster the knowledge, skills and dispositions that equip graduates to address increasingly complex global challenges? Every student should get the chance to acquire the skills necessary to make a difference in the world.”

In addition to Hamilton, Ashoka U’s new Changemaker cohort includes Glasgow Caledonian and Western Washington universities and Claremont McKenna College. Other liberal arts Changemaker Campuses include Middlebury, Colorado and Rollins colleges.

fallcoming pumpkin challenge

Now That's a Great Pumpkin

At age 8, Russ DeGrazia ’15 entered his first pumpkin in a competitive weigh-in. He went on to nurture more than a few vegetables to prize-winning poundage in his family’s backyard in suburban Connecticut. Here, DeGrazia is pictured outside Sadove Student Center with a 1,523.5-pound beast his parents trucked to campus for Fallcoming and Family Weekend. DeGrazia and other members of the Hamilton Micro-Finance Club used the mighty pumpkin for a “guess-its-weight” fundraiser. DeGrazia, a double major in government and economics, already has a post-Hamilton job lined up in New York City, where, unfortunately, pumpkin patches are in short supply.

New name reflects center’s mission

To more fully communicate its mission of helping students integrate their liberal arts education with a lifetime of career achievement and satisfaction, the Maurice Horowitch Career Center has a new name: the Maurice Horowitch Career and Life Outcomes Center.

“The change acknowledges the broad scope of programs, activities and resources the center offers to help our students prepare for life after Hamilton,” says Vice President for Communications and Development Dick Tantillo, interim executive director of the center. “Our approach is holistic and two-fold: to teach students the career development skills they’ll use throughout their lives while assisting them with their current needs, which run the gamut from jobs and internships to graduate school, fellowships and travel.”

The primary message to students is to start the process early, ideally in their first year on campus, by self-assessing their interests, skills and values. Counselors then work with students to articulate their skills by practicing how to express them with confidence. Along the way, students are encouraged to secure at least two internships, or career-related experiences, before graduation. In summer 2013, Hamilton awarded just under $700,000 to help students with associated expenses such as housing, transportation and meals while living and working away from home.

Last year, the center launched a Myths campaign to dispel common student misconceptions such as “The Career Center = Job Placement”; “The Career Center gives advice I can find by searching on Google”; and “The Career Center is only for seniors.” That effort, along with a strong lineup of programming, boosted student engagement.

Just a few examples of Career and Life Outcomes Center events include Sophomore JumpStart!, where students connect with counselors, hear guest speakers and attend workshops focusing on career exploration, networking, résumé writing and internships; How I Got My Internship lunches, where panels of students summarize their experiences, provide insight into how they got started and share strategies for the industry in which they interned; Career Explo, half-day events, often hosted off campus by alumni, where students explore a particular field such as finance, education, communications, film and television, and publishing; and Interview Mojo, where juniors and seniors conduct practice interviews with alumni, area business leaders and members of the Hamilton community. 

And then there’s the robust Hamilton Career Network (my.hamilton.edu) that not only serves as a platform for alumni and parents to express interest in helping students navigate career paths, but also as a resource alumni can use to make connections throughout their lives.

The center’s website, tagged with the phrase “Find Your Future,” was recently redesigned to make it easier to navigate and to more sharply focus on the mission. “The Career and Life Outcomes Center is vigilant about providing students with best-in-class services that will help them manage various life transitions,” Tantillo says. “By getting more students engaged, the more connections we make and positive outcomes we achieve.”

Mountain mission accomplished

46 Peaks HOC trip
Hamilton Outing Club members are all smiles after conquering Mount Colvin, number 39 of the 46 highest mountains in the Adirondack Park.

It took 19 years, but this fall the Hamilton Outing Club hit its goal for 46 Peaks Weekend. More than 170 participants in 22 trips collectively summited all 46 Adirondack Mountains known as the high peaks, which are more or less 4,000 feet tall. The previous record stood at 43 peaks summited, a mark first set in 2010 and again in 2013.

No one was happier to hear the news than Erik Jacobson ’97. During his Hamilton days, he came up with the idea of High Peaks Weekend with fellow Outing Club officers Brett Straten ’96, Ned Stankus ’96 and John Slack ’96. As Jacobson recalls it, the weather was horrific for the first 46 Peaks Weekend attempt — driving wind, rain and near-freezing temperatures. “All the participants had a story to tell when they got back to campus,” he says.

After Hamilton, Jacobson, who was a geology major, continued to live his love of the outdoors. He was a fishing guide in Idaho and taught elementary and high school in the Adirondacks. Jacobson lives in Keene Valley, in the High Peaks Region. Two years ago, after he built his own house, he launched himself in business as a carpenter and timber-framer. Recently he became the trails coordinator for the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society, which manages and maintains some 120 miles of trails. That job keeps him going up and down the peaks pretty regularly, but he’s not exactly a 46er. “My preference is to ski up and down them in the winter and spring, which is much more fun,” he adds. “My wife is a 46er, but I still have a bunch left, though some of the peaks I have probably done 46 times. I have two kids now so there is some incentive to try some new hills.”

Although beautiful blue skies contributed to this year’s successful effort, Andrew Jillings, director of outdoor leadership, credits the organizational skills of the HOC officers and the many student leaders. 46 Peaks Weekend is “a truly unique event,” he says. “No other college has a student event like it. The weekend is run by students, led by students and made up entirely of student participants.”

When did the sun set in 1779?

When it was hot off the press, five coppers would buy you a copy of Ames’s Almanack — but that was 1759. Today, even with sufficient coin, Ames’s is hard to come by. One of the few places to find a copy is Hamilton’s Burke Library, which has one of the country’s best collections of American almanacs, all of them newly catalogued.

It took a year-and-a-half or so for a Hamilton Library Technical Services team to sort out the 2,063 almanacs. They were acquired over the decades and until recently housed in the basement. The almanacs were clearly an important resource and needed to be processed, says Christian Goodwillie, director and curator of Special Collections. The material dates back to the mid 1700s and speaks to different parts of the American experience over two-and-a-half centuries, he says.

Colonists turned to the palm-sized Ames’s for weather and astrological predictions, prayers and words of inspiration, phases of the moon, tide schedules and sundry other information useful to daily life. One section lists roads to New York and related tips such as “the Names of Those Persons that have good Entertainment on the three Roads that lead to New Haven ...”

The Farmers’ & Mechanics’ Almanac for 1865, written for inhabitants of New York and New England, provided readers with brief accounts of Civil War battles in a “Rebellion Record” with entries that date back several years: “1862. – January 2. – Skirmish at Port Royal, South Carolina. Fifty of a gang of bridgeburners, under Jeff Owens, were captured near Martinsburg Missouri.”

There’s at least one alumnus voice amidst the collection — that of Henry Wheeler Shaw, Class of 1837, a humorist who used the pen name Josh Billings. One of his works is an almanac with the untweetable title of Josh Billings’ Farmer’s allminax, for the year of our Lord 1874: being the 98th year ov Amerikan librerty, and over 5 thousand years, (if I dont disremember rong) since Adam did the bizzness for us, in the gardin ov Eden.

The almanacs in the collection are rare and some may be one of a kind, Goodwillie says. Hamilton librarians discovered that 403 had never been catalogued by a university or college. Among them:

  • Bailey’s Franklin almanac, for the year of our Lord 1828
  • The Pennsylvania, New-Jersey & Delaware almanac for 1851
  • The Tennessee Christian almanac, for the year of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ 1835
  • Farmer’s calendar, or, The Utica almanack, for the year of our Lord 1825
  • Sam Slick comic all-my-nack for 1842
  • Wright’s pictorial family almanac, 1887

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