A View from College Hill
By President Joan Hinde Stewart
There is a poignancy about my final year at Hamilton, an awareness of doing things for the last time.
I mean not only the grand ceremonial events that come round once a year in the eternal cycle of academic life on a campus: matriculation, convocation, baccalaureate, commencement, reunions. I am also thinking of other gatherings that punctuate at more frequent intervals the life of a president – for example, lunches with senior admission interns and with the members of our alumni leadership training program. They talked about why they chose Hamilton, their experiences of the last four years, and their plans and hopes for the future. We discussed the similarity of our situations: our seniors too are very aware that their time on the Hill is swiftly drawing to a close. One declared me an honorary member of the Class of 2016.
They also asked me the kind of questions I have learned to expect from our students – thoughtful, informed and probing questions that evince not only discernment, but also love of our College. When one senior asked me for some of my proudest moments, I thought immediately of a chance encounter a couple of days earlier as I was heading to an alumni reception and changing flights in the Charlotte airport. I heard a young woman call my name: it was a shining Maggie Rosenbaum ’14, a splendid student and one of the best swimmers in Hamilton’s history. It gave me satisfaction and pleasure to chat for a moment with Maggie, to hear about her new job and of course her enduring affection for alma mater.
With great pride, as usual, I will bestow degrees this spring on the nearly 500 members of the Class of 2016 at my last Hamilton commencement. My colleagues in the Communications Office note that I am the eighth longest-serving president in Hamilton’s history. As I write this, it occurs to me that, given the increase in enrollment over the years, I will have been honored to “graduate” more students than any of my predecessors: In the course of 13 years, I will have handed degrees to well over 6,000 young men and women – more than a quarter of our alumni body. I note this with both humility and pride, for as I have often said, the fine education Hamilton provides is owing to the hard work and dedication of countless individuals – faculty and staff, alumni, parents, trustees – and those who have come before.
Let me conclude, however, on a note not of finality but of continuance and gratitude. Our College will reach new heights under the guidance of a man of wisdom and great humanity. As for me, with thousands of Hamilton alumni across the globe, I expect there will be many more chance meetings like the one with Maggie, and many more opportunities to see and hear the myriad and wonderful things our graduates are doing in the world.