Former Hamilton College President Martin Carovano

President David Wippman announced the death  of J. Martin Carovano, Hamilton’s 16th president, in an email to the Hamilton community on Aug. 13.

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

We received word earlier today that J. Martin Carovano, Hamilton’s 16th president, died last night following a long illness. 

Martin received his bachelor’s degree from Pomona College and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He came to Hamilton in 1963 as an instructor in economics and spent the next 25 years on College Hill. After becoming an associate professor in 1969, he was named provost in 1972 and Hamilton’s 16th president in 1974, all while still in his 30s. Following his time at Hamilton, Martin became a senior administrator for the New York State Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. 

Martin Carovano’s tenure will best be remembered for the Hamilton-Kirkland merger, a decision that led to coeducation on College Hill in 1978. Martin’s Way, the red-brick path that links the Hamilton and Kirkland campuses, is named in his honor. President Carovano’s legacy includes improved academic facilities, including renovation of the Saunders Hall of Chemistry (now the Blood Fitness and Dance Center), the conversion of the James Library to Christian A. Johnson Hall, and the construction of the Schambach Center and Wellin Hall.

The Margaret Bundy Scott Field House and the William M. Bristol, Jr. Pool were also built during his tenure, and the Root family homes on College Hill Road became Communications and Development (now Advancement) and the Office of Admission (now home to the Division of Student Life and the Registrar’s Office). With the assistance of a dedicated group of trustees and a strengthened fundraising program, the College’s endowment more than tripled during Martin’s presidency, and that has provided Hamilton with a high level of fiscal stability for the past three decades. 

At the time of Martin’s retirement, the Alumni Review described him and his presidency as follows: “First of all, a highly organized and concentrated mind, reflecting a keen sense of priority. Secondly, no-nonsense dedication to the task at hand combined with candor and sensitive concern in his relations with others. Thirdly…, a reflective man who weighs his words carefully, is devoid of pretense or bombast, is devoted to his job, and does it conscientiously and to the best of his considerable ability.” More than 30 years later, Hamilton continues to benefit from the courage and integrity that defined Martin Carovano’s leadership. 

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