Eugene M. Tobin, the 18th president of Hamilton College, received a Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). The honor, which is given only in exceptional circumstances, was presented January 6 at CIC’s annual Presidents Institute in Marco Island, Fla.
“Your 16 years of service to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and more than two decades in higher education offer a shining example of a meaningful career,” said CIC President Richard Ekman in making the award. “Loyal supporter, wise counselor, and dedicated advocate, you have guided institutions and their leaders through changing and challenging times.”
Tobin retired in December 2019 after serving 16 years with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He joined the organization in 2003 as senior advisor to then-President William G. Bowen and served most recently as senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities. Tobin was Hamilton’s president from 1993 to 2003, after joining the College in 1980 as a professor in history and serving as department chair and dean of faculty.
“Eugene M. Tobin is one of those all too rare leaders who remind us of the meaning and value of the work we do,” CIC wrote when announcing the award. “A devoted supporter of the liberal arts and champion of the arts and humanities, Tobin has always known that high-quality higher education is an essential driver of social mobility.”
“I am deeply honored to accept this award from the Council of Independent Colleges, a distinguished higher education thought leader,” Tobin said. “For 23 years at Hamilton and more than 16 years at Mellon, I have been fortunate to work with and learn from talented, dedicated, creative, and generous colleagues. I am profoundly grateful for the privilege of sharing my career with intellectual partners who care deeply about the role of liberal education in strengthening democratic institutions.”
During his tenure as president, Hamilton invested aggressively and strategically in its programs, facilities, faculty and students. In addition to increasing the size of the faculty by 17 percent, Hamilton more than doubled the amount of college-funded financial aid, unveiled a new curriculum, increased extracurricular options for students, opened new programs in New York and Beijing, and added and renovated facilities for academic, residential, and social purposes.
Tobin earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in 1968, and his master’s degree in 1970 and Ph.D. in 1972 from Brandeis University. As a faculty member, his scholarship focused on early 20th century American political history. Following his arrival at Mellon, he collaborated with William G. Bowen on two books that explored higher education’s commitment to equity and excellence and the role of shared governance in strengthening institutional decision making.
In 2003, Hamilton trustees and other close friends established the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professorship, which was the College’s largest endowed chair at the time. The Beverly S. and Eugene M. Tobin Awards were established three years later to recognize exceptional service by Hamilton administrators, staff, and facilities management workers.