On the eve of the public launch of Because Hamilton, a fundraising campaign to raise $400 million, Hamilton College trustees and friends surprised long-time volunteer Jeff Little by announcing they had committed $1.2 million to create an endowed scholarship in his name.
The scholarship will be awarded to students who need considerable financial aid to enroll at Hamilton.
Steve Sadove, chairman of the Hamilton Board of Trustees, also announced that the College will confer an honorary degree on Little, a 1971 Hamilton graduate, at Commencement in May 2019.
“Jeff and his wife, Claudia, have responded time and again to the call for new endowment to support financial aid,” said Sadove. “It’s time we have a Little Scholarship at Hamilton.”
Sadove said Little played a lead role when Hamilton adopted a need-blind policy in admission, specifically making the case for financial support from alumni and friends. Colleges that practice need-blind admission review applicants’ qualifications without considering their ability to pay the institution’s comprehensive fee. Hamilton also promises to meet the full demonstrated need of every student it accepts for four years. Fewer than four dozen U.S. colleges and universities are need-blind and meet full need.
“Every capital campaign has identified financial aid endowment as a critical priority,” Sadove said, “and scholarship endowment is once again our top funding objective in the Because Hamilton campaign.”
Little has been a lead donor to Hamilton priorities for more than 25 years. The Little Pub, the Little Squash Center, and the amphitheatre that fronts the Kennedy Center are named in his honor. He has also supported multiple endowments for scholarships, internships, and professorships, among other College priorities.
Little is serving as co-chair, with 1984 Hamilton graduate David Solomon, of Because Hamilton, the most ambitious fundraising effort in the College’s history. It marks the fourth time Little has played a leadership role, having previously been chair of the New Century Campaign, the Excelsior campaign, and the Bicentennial Initiatives campaign. The campaigns raised more than $430 million for College priorities. Little has also served Hamilton as an alumni, charter, and now life trustee; chair of the Trustee Development Committee; and chair of the Annual Fund. In 2014, Hamilton named its Volunteer of the Year Award in his honor.
In 2008, Little began a 10-year tenure as vice chair of the Hamilton Board of Trustees, including five years when A.G. Lafley was chair. Although he was unable to attend the dinner honoring Little, Lafley sent a video tribute. “When I think of you,” Lafley said, “I think of tried and true, always on point, always ready to take on the task, always ready to get the job done and deliver with excellence.”
Sadove, with whom Little also served as trustee vice chair from 2013 to earlier this year, said Little was richly deserving of an honorary degree from the College. “The highest honor a college or a university can bestow on an individual is an honorary degree,” Sadove said. “It is reserved for people who embody the values of an institution, individuals whose life’s work represents a model for others to emulate. Jeff Little meets and exceeds those standards.”
Little retired in 2013 after serving as co-president of George Little Management LLC (GLM), the family-run trade show management company he joined in 1971 following his graduation from Hamilton with a bachelor’s degree in history. Throughout his more than 40-year career with GLM, Little was responsible for strategic planning and direction for the company, as well as new business development. GLM was acquired in October 2007 by DMG World Media, a global exhibition and publishing company.