Annual Fund, Key Gifts Buck Economic Trend
Rarely have such gloomy economic times produced such sunny philanthropic news for the College. Over the course of little more than a month this summer, Hamilton received four separate million-dollar gifts and wrapped up an Annual Fund campaign that posted remarkable numbers despite the financial storms.
- Setting the tone for the summer was A.G. Lafley '69, chairman of the Board of Trustees, who observed at the end of May, "This has been a challenging year for higher education, and additional financial aid for students is Hamilton's most pressing need." The chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble addressed that need with a $1 million pledge for scholarships in conjunction with his 40th class reunion. He also challenged classmates to provide $50,000 to establish a Class of 1969 endowed scholarship. "The College is committed to increasing need-based scholarships for current and future students," Lafley said, "and I'm happy to be part of that effort."
- Just a week later, an anonymous donor provided Hamilton with an additional $1 million gift devoted to need-based scholarships. "I can think of few other people so caring, supportive and committed to Hamilton students," then-Acting President and Dean of Faculty Joseph Urgo said in response. He pointed out that this year about half of Hamilton's students will receive more than $24 million in need-based aid, with 40 percent of that provided by endowment income earned from funds specifically established for scholarship aid.
- Within a few days, a second anonymous donor presented the College with a $1 million gift covering most of the cost of replacing the turf at Steuben Field with an artificial grass surface. The gift, augmented by contributions from former athletes and parents of current student-athletes, among others, made possible a long-awaited upgrade that will be completed in time for Hamilton's Sept. 26 home football opener against Amherst. The field also will be used for men's and women's lacrosse and intramural sports. "This was a major and necessary upgrade that was first identified years ago," said Jon Hind '80, director of athletics.
- In mid-June, Jeff Little '71, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and president and COO of George Little Management, addressed yet another critical need of the College: housing. About two-thirds of Little's $1 million gift is being used to convert lounges in Bundy East and West Residence Halls into apartment-style residences for 16 students. "I received an excellent education from Hamilton 40 years ago," Little said, "and I want to do what I can to ensure that today's students have a similar experience. I believe that a student's residential experience on campus is an important part" of that education.
- In the wake of these gifts, the College closed out the fiscal year with the announcement that the number of Hamilton alumni who gave unrestricted contributions to the College in the last year increased as compared with the previous year, as did the size of those gifts. More than 52 percent of all alumni participated in the Annual Fund, making this the 28th consecutive year that at least 50 percent have contributed. Fewer than two dozen U.S. colleges and universities have alumni participation rates greater than 50 percent, and even fewer have sustained that rate over many years. Additionally, total unrestricted dollars from Hamilton alumni increased from $5.8 million to $6 million. Hamilton officials credited the efforts of alumni leaders and the generosity of their classmates as well as a series of "challenges" for the success. "Giving back is simply in our DNA as Hamilton alumni," said George Baker '74, who chaired the campaign.
The recent largesse will have an immediate and dramatic impact on the College's students and facilities, but Urgo pointed out that such gifts carry another message as well. "They also signal that Hamilton, through the support of its alumni, parents and friends, is continuing to invest in its students and programs, even during this difficult economy," he said. "Our objective is to emerge from this recession as an even stronger College able to meet the needs of an increasingly talented, capable and diverse student body."
Time: Walker '62 Among Top Envoys
Edward S. Walker, Jr. '62, the Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Global Political Theory, was recently cited by Time magazine as "among the finest American diplomats to have served in the State Department." It's not unusual for the 35-year diplomatic veteran to be recognized for his wisdom and experience in international affairs, especially in Middle Eastern matters. He has served as U.S. ambassador to Israel (1997-1999), the Arab Republic of Egypt (1994-1997) and the United Arab Emirates (1989-1992), as well as deputy permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations (1992-1993). In the course of his career, Walker has worked with every Israeli Prime Minister since Golda Meir, with Presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, with Presidents Haffez Assad and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and with Kings Hussein and Abdullah of Jordan, among others.
Time was on this occasion, however, referring to an open letter to President Obama that Walker had written with three other Middle East experts and former ambassadors — Robert Pelletreau, Samuel Lewis and Thomas Pickering — for the Israel Policy Forum, an organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic engagement in the region. Time reporter Scott MacLeod's piece was titled "Wise Men to Obama: 'We Stand With You.'"
In their letter, the four statesmen expressed their conviction that a two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians is the formula that "both advances America's interests in the entire Middle East and is the best achievable means of ensuring Israel's survival as a Jewish state and a democracy."
Walker has been asked to share his perspectives on President Obama's recent trip to the Middle East by major media outlets, including Bloomberg News, CBS, the BBC and Minnesota Public Radio. In addition to the letter to the president for the Israel Policy Forum, Walker's opinions have also appeared recently on the op-ed pages of The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Common Ground News Service. The crisis in Gaza at the beginning of the year also generated calls for his comments from the BBC, CNBC, CBS and The Economist. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's formation of a coalition government triggered additional media requests for Walker's thoughts, including from The Wall Street Journal.
While much of Walker's work focuses on policy analysis, he also underscores the strategic and symbolic importance of communication. "Obama's message should not be targeted to specific leaders or to any one country," he wrote in a Common Ground News Service op-ed piece appearing in Middle East Online (www.middle-east-online.com) on the eve of the president's June visit to Cairo. "His message should target those who have lost faith in America over the past decade. His objective should be to start to restore that faith." Clarity, too, is crucial: "No matter how eloquent the speech is, careless terminology can undercut the intended message, particularly when translation is involved," Walker wrote. "Today we sometimes fail to make a clear distinction between the words 'terrorist' and 'Islamist,' for example. We would do well to remember that a 'fundamentalist' is not by definition a 'terrorist.' If Obama wants to get his point across he must be very careful not to confuse devotion with deviation."
Coming Online: Honor Roll of Donors
Hamilton alumni have once again risen to the challenge — the 2008-09 Annual Fund has surpassed its $6 million goal with more than 10,000 alumni, parents and friends joining to support the College's programs, faculty and students.
To thank those who helped make the most recent fund a success throughout this especially challenging year, all donors will be recognized in our new online Honor Roll of Donors, scheduled to debut this fall.
This password-protected site will feature listings of all donors by class year and gift club, in addition to stories about volunteers, donors and those who benefit most from their generosity — Hamilton students.
The electronic Honor Roll of Donors will replace the print version traditionally mailed in September. This change not only will save the College more than $30,000 in print and mailing costs, but also allows us to introduce a new feature. Beginning in November, the 2009-10 donor listing will be updated as gifts are received. Alumni will have the opportunity to check the "real time" status of their class' giving totals and names of classmates who have already made their gifts.
New stories illustrating how the generosity of alumni, parents and friends shapes life on College Hill, as well as information about giving challenges and Annual Fund updates, will be added throughout the year. We hope you enjoy this dynamic website.
Renovations: The Show Must Go On
Despite economic uncertainty, the College will invest, on average, more than $1 million per month this fiscal year in construction projects. "Hamilton has a beautiful and historic campus," says Vice President for Administration and Finance Karen Leach, "and it is important that it be maintained well and upgraded to support modern program needs." Renovations at Steuben Field and Bundy East and West are only two of several major summer construction projects on the Hill. Others:
- The largest project is the ongoing $10.7 million renovation and expansion of Emerson Hall into a student center. When completed in fall 2010, the campus landmark will house the College Store, a café, the radio station, lounges, offices and meeting spaces for student organizations. In the works for nearly a decade, the project got a green light from the Board of Trustees in June when it was found that the economic slowdown would in fact lower construction costs.
- Phase Two of the renovation and expansion of the Kirner-Johnson Building was wrapped up with the reopening of the Red Pit, the return of the History, Communication and Sociology departments and the completion of audio-visual and other systems.
- North and South Courts were razed to create a new green space
and realign Martin's Way in front of Dunham Hall.
- Benedict Hall received a new energy-efficient heating system, new windows and new entrance steps.
Solved: Mystery of Nancy Drew
Once the nation's favorite 16-year-old amateur detective and the inspiration for all sorts of mid-20th-century girl power, Nancy Drew is turning out to have more lives than, well, Catwoman. Just when the teen-mystery idol — deconstructed by feminist critics and often diluted by publishers since her heyday from the 1930s to the '50s — seemed a candidate for cultural irrelevance, Nancy is back in the spotlight with a newly revealed fan and advocate: incoming Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
That comes as no surprise to Carolyn Carpan, director of public services at Burke Library, who published Sisters, Schoolgirls, and Sleuths: Girls' Series Books in America in December. The book, a social history of girls' series fiction since the 1840s, examines more than 100 book series with an eye toward how they reflect and challenge the culture of the era that produced them. With large swaths of Sisters, Schoolgirls, and Sleuths devoted to Nancy, Carpan's scholarship now seems prescient.
"Nancy Drew was an assertive, adventurous and intelligent young woman when she debuted in 1930," Carpan says. "She was transformed from a larger-than-life character into an ordinary teenage girl when the book series was updated in the 1950s. It is ironic that the diluted Nancy Drew became a feminist icon who inspired Judge Sotomayor and many other women to be bold and independent, but it is possible we would never have known Nancy Drew if she hadn't become a shadow of her former sassy self." Other high-profile women to cite the young crimestopper as a role model in recent years include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Laura Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In addition to Sisters, Schoolgirls, and Sleuths, which is published by Scarecrow Press, a Rowman and Littlefield imprint, Carpan is the author of Rocked by Romance: A Guide to Teen Romance Fiction (2004) and Jane Yolen (2005).