Hamilton College today announced thelaunching of a capital campaign to raise $83 million by the end of thecentury.

The New Century Campaign, the largest fund-drive in the college's 185-yearhistory, will conclude on June 30, 2001.

"This campaign is about preserving the unique quality of one of the nation'sfinest small colleges," said Campaign Chairman Jeff Little, a 1971 Hamiltongraduate and the president of George Little Management Company. "It is alsoabout providing leadership and vision for the liberal arts in America.

"To date," Little said, "we already have received gifts and pledges totaling$40 million."

Little said The New Century Campaign seeks to raise $31 million for studentsupport, including $27 million for endowed scholarships; $14 million forfaculty development, including $9 million for six new named professorships; $18million to renew Hamilton's science facilities; $5 million for programs andfacilities that support the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, Hamilton'sundergraduate public policy think tank; and $15 million in unrestricted annualgiving over the life of the campaign.

"Fundamentally, we are investing in the people -- students and faculty -- whogive Hamilton its unique identity and purpose," Little said. During hisremarks Saturday evening, Little praised the dedication of the Hamilton alumniwho "The reward for our success," he told the audience, "is the nextchallenge."

In addition to Little, attendees heard from three Hamilton students who paidtribute to faculty mentors and alumni benefactors. An especially movingtribute was given by Ruth Gardner, a junior from Chicago.

"My parents have been the source of my passion for learning, my love of God,and my sense of who I am," she said. "In Chicago," she continued, "I am part ofa program called Link Unlimited. Link supports connections between inner-citystudents and people who have been successful in life and want to give back. AHamilton alumnus, Arthur Massolo, and his wife, Karen, chose to make aconnection with me. He sponsored me through high school. From the moment Imet him, he talked about the importance of good grades.

"He talked a lot about Hamilton," Gardner continued. "It was always obvious tohim where I would go to college. Now I know why he thought that. This is aplace where words matter, no matter what you study, or what you do, or who yourfriends are. It is a place where conversation and community count.

"I am grateful to Art Massolo for introducing me to Hamilton. I am gratefulfor his advice, friendship and encouragement."

In his remarks, college president Eugene M. Tobin paraphrased author NormanMacLean, who wrote, "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runsthrough it."

"For us," Tobin said, "eventually all the things in our lives merge into one,and a college -- this college -- runs through it."

Attendees also heard from Hamilton's Board Chairman Kevin Kennedy, a 1970graduate of the college, and Elizabeth McCormack, one of the leading and mostrespected voices in American higher education and a long-time member ofHamilton's Board of Trustees. A former college president, McCormack is anassociate with the Rockefeller Family and vice chair of the MacArthur FamilyFoundation.

In addition to the kickoff dinner during which the $83 million goal wasannounced, a series of events were held to highlight campaign objectives.

Specifically, the college sponsored a session on undergraduate scienceeducation, during which Sheila Tobias, a member of The Research Corporation,spoke and offered her views on the subject. Her talk was followed by adiscussion of Hamilton's plans for its science curriculum and the facilitiesneeded to support that curricular initiative.

Other special programs included a "Named Professorship Investiture Ceremony,"during which Hamilton honored distinguished teaching at the college, and adinner in celebration of student scholarships. Weekend guests also wereinvited to participate in classes and rehearsals, and to special presentationsfocused on the college's innovative career services program, the work of theKirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture, and the programsof The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center.

The New Century Campaign is the largest fund-raising effort in Hamilton'shistory. It follows the Campaign for the '90s, which over the four-year periodending in June 1994 received gifts to the college totaling $69.5 million, morethan $3 million over the campaign's original goal.

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