Vice President and Dean of Faculty Joe Urgo concludes his four-year Hamilton tenure this summer, traveling south to assume the presidency of St. Mary's College of Maryland — that state's public honors college, with more than 2,000 students — on July 1. Professor of Biology Patrick Reynolds will serve as interim dean of faculty during the 2010-11 academic year.
While Urgo's Hamilton stay was not long, it was extraordinarily busy, President Joan Hinde Stewart said in announcing his departure. In addition to teaching as a professor of English, Urgo served as acting president during Stewart's spring 2009 sabbatical, led the year-long development of the College's recent strategic plan, created the position of associate dean for diversity initiatives, strengthened alumni ties with a series of regional get-togethers, worked with Kirkland College alumnae on efforts to more fully integrate Hamilton and Kirkland historical accounts, and pursued a series of measures related to teaching and faculty that constituted "a strong and steady advocacy," Stewart said.
"Joe accomplished all this with great patience, humor and integrity and with a clear sense of Hamilton's purpose and goals," she said. "Working with him has been a pleasure and a privilege."
Urgo, who came to Hamilton from the University of Mississippi, said he was drawn to St. Mary's "because of its commitment to the goals of accessibility, inclusiveness, meritocracy, and sustainability — the central aims of public education in the setting of a residential liberal arts college." St. Mary's officials, in turn, said they had "a palpable sense of excitement and celebration" in considering and hiring Urgo. "As we got to know Dr. Urgo, we found he understood St. Mary's College, our sense of place, and shared our deep respect for the mission of a public liberal arts institution," said Molly Mahoney, chair of the search committee and member of the St. Mary's board of trustees. "We believe he will actively cultivate the intellectual life and vitality of the college."
St. Mary's, which is 70 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., on the peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, boasts a history to rival Hamilton's own. The liberal arts college was founded in 1840; the surrounding city was established in 1634 — making it the fourth-oldest permanent English colony in North America — and is now largely designated a national landmark.