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Al Ham Birthday Celebrations Go Global

Back in 2001 the Hamilton Alumni Association under President George Baker '74 brainstormed the idea of coast-to-coast gatherings held in conjunction with Alexander Hamilton’s January 11 birthday.  In January 2002, eight alumni regions hosted celebrations for GOLD Group members.  By 2007 the number of gatherings had more than tripled and the scope had expanded to include Hamilton alumni, parents and friends. Now in 2014 a record 40 parties were held and the celebrations have gone global, with gatherings in London, Tokyo and Beijing, in addition to U.S. cities from Albany, N.Y., to L.A. and points in between.

Baker recalled that the celebrations came about as a way to the relatively new regional initiative.  “In exploring particularly unique ‘things Hamilton’ to promote in the regions,” said Baker, “the notion of celebrating the namesake’s birthday came up.”  The group latched onto the idea as a unifying theme for regional events “during the otherwise dull and cold January period when perhaps nothing else was happening.  From that little acorn quite a nice sized tree has grown,” Baker remarked.

More than 950 alumni, parents, students and friends attended at least one of the 40 Alexander Hamilton Birthday Parties held world-wide during the month of January. As the College’s signature regional event, a new record in the number of parties held (40) was set, and many new faces were seen at parties held in Cincinnati, Omaha and Christchurch, New Zealand. 

A pilot program was introduced this year where participants in 17 regions were asked to donate $10 to the College – “an Al Ham for Al Ham.”  In those regions the parties were held at public locations such as restaurants or bars. More than 480 guests attended the events where the donation was requested.  $4040 was collected in “donations” and an additional $1136 was collected through the round-up process.  As a result, total gifts to the Annual Fund through the Alexander Hamilton Birthday parties were $5176.

In addition to socializing and networking, several parties offered an educational component. In Chapel Hill, N.C., Andy Burns ’78 hosted Frank H. Hill, founder and director of the Institute for the Public Trust. Hill led an engaging discussion about Alexander Hamilton’s role in early America and how he may have viewed some issues we face today. 

Dan Chambliss, the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology, discussed “How Hamilton Works: The Role of Personal Relationships in Undergraduate Success” at the Syracuse, N.Y., gathering.

Albany attendees competed in an Alexander Hamilton birthday quiz which was aced by John Boudreau ’14.

The LA party, hosted for the third time by current parents Peter and Marla Rosen P’15, had more than 40 guests, a strong number for the smaller regional chapter.


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