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Public Statements


2021

Observing Juneteenth 2021, June 19, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Today we join with others throughout the country to observe Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. This day, which Congress and President Biden just designated a federal holiday, commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Of course, the end of slavery did not mean the end of racism, or the violence, oppression, and loss that go with it.

Accordingly, even as we mark the anniversary that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, we are reminded of the progress we must continue to make as a society and as a College community. I encourage all members of the Hamilton community to reflect on the meaning of this anniversary and the actions we can take individually and collectively to stand against racism and bigotry.

David

Summer Operations Update, June 18, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We can be proud of what we have accomplished during the past 15 months, but we should also recognize that the strains of pandemic life have left many of us exhausted. I plan to take some vacation this summer, and I hope you also will be able to find time to rest and recharge.

Although we have only just finished the spring semester, we have already begun to plan for the fall. As a first step, divisional vice presidents have been asked to coordinate back-to-campus schedules that meet the varying needs of each division and office for in-person work this summer and that ensure we are ready for the start of the fall semester. All offices should already have someone available to greet guests as needed and to answer telephones that cannot be forwarded. Soon we will communicate plans to re-open the library for visitors.

Some employees have asked whether they will be able to continue to work remotely. We recognize that work-from-home arrangements have been helpful to many faculty and staff, particularly those having to deal with child-care issues, home schooling, ill family members, and similar challenges. At the same time, much of our strength as a residential college stems from the close relationships and the supportive culture that form in an in-person learning community. Similarly, we believe our students are best served by in-person teaching and advising, and we therefore will not be offering remote instruction next year.

Each division will need to make decisions about flexible work arrangements based on the needs of the division, the requirements of the role, and the best interests of our employees and community. If you have questions about your own situation, I encourage staff to consult with their supervisor and faculty to consult with the dean of faculty’s office.

Current health and safety protocols for summer operations are detailed on the COVID-19 Information website, including updated Frequently Asked Questions, and are effective until August 16. Effective June 16, New York State lifted some safety mandates. However, at institutions of higher education (IHE) where not everyone is fully vaccinated, IHEs have the discretion to make safety decisions that will protect the campus community. At this time, anyone on Hamilton’s campus who is not fully vaccinated should continue to maintain six feet of distance from others and wear face coverings. If you are sick, please contact your supervisor and plan to stay home.

Some important summer milestones include:

  • Opportunity Program begins: Sunday, July 11
  • Orientation leaders begin: Thursday, Aug. 12
  • New Student Orientation: Tuesday Aug. 17, through Wednesday, Aug. 25
  • Fall classes begin: Thursday, Aug. 26

Before the campus gets too busy, I hope all faculty and staff can join me for a community picnic on Wednesday, July 28 (time and location forthcoming). It will be a pleasure to connect again in person, with music kindly provided by some of our colleagues. In the coming weeks, we will share more detailed information about plans for the fall.

Until then,

David

2020-21 Update: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Hamilton, June 15, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

One year ago, I announced a renewed and more comprehensive plan of action to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Hamilton, and I identified three steps we would take: host listening sessions and form an Advisory Council; expedite a new equity and inclusion plan; and increase resources. These steps were intended to accelerate the work already being done to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus community. I am writing to update you on some of the progress we have made.

Last March, the Advisory Council presented the campus with more than two dozen proposals aimed at fostering a more inclusive and equitable College community. Chief among those proposals was creating a full-time chief diversity officer position, reporting to the president, to help build and coordinate efforts to advance DEI at Hamilton. Since my last message pertaining to DEI initiatives at Hamilton, the College has identified a search firm to work with administrators, students, faculty, and staff to fill this position. Now that the firm has been chosen, the process for identifying and recruiting an appropriate candidate can begin. You can expect to hear soon how interested members of the community can participate.

Many other steps have been taken in the past year. Some were already in process, and some began more recently. Here are some highlights:

  • We have recruited an extraordinary entering class. While the exact composition of the Class of 2025 may shift slightly over the summer, we expect to set new records in the percentages of U.S. students of color, first-generation to attend college students, and Pell-eligible students.
  • We added four new faculty members from ethnically or racially diverse backgrounds in 2020-21, and the College is committed to continuing this progress. The dean of faculty has also dedicated a dean’s discretionary position to the teaching of transnational race and gender in 2021-22. In addition, Human Resources has added a commitment to diversity statement to the College’s position description template and increased recruitment advertising in media with diverse readership. The College is also intensifying its focus on retaining underrepresented faculty and staff.
  • Hamilton Academy, a professional learning initiative for faculty and staff that foregrounds inclusive pedagogies, launched in January 2021. The Academy’s many offerings include a variety of DEI-related programs, such as the six-part workshop, “Belonging at Work,” hosted by professional DEI consultant Rhodes Perry.
  • A new DEI website launched last fall will continue to be expanded and refreshed with easy-to-find references and resources. A dashboard will be added to show the College’s progress toward measurable DEI objectives.
  • Communications & Marketing invited Hamilton alumna and CNN producer Edvige Jean-Francois ’90 to serve as guest editor for the latest edition of Hamilton magazine. This special issue, We Are Hamilton, included personal contributions written by more than 20 Black alumni and community members, and has sparked a series of follow-up programs and conversations among alumni and other members of our community.
  • The College’s Communications Style Guide was refreshed for inclusive language and respectful and consistent references to specific populations and identities, and a new working group is being formed to ensure this exercise is completed on an annual basis.
  • In October, the College’s Board of Trustees welcomed three alumni of color as new charter trustees. Mason P. Ashe ’85, Manal Ataya ’01, and Sharon D. Madison ’84 are already actively contributing their experiences, perspectives, and talents in invaluable ways. The Board is committed to further increasing the diversity of its membership.
  • Last fall Hamilton joined the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance as one of 51 inaugural members. As part of this alliance, Hamilton will sponsor participation by our community members in three climate surveys: one for students, one for staff at all levels, and one for faculty (including full-time, adjunct, and part-time instructors). The employee surveys will focus on topics such as perceptions of equitable opportunities for promotion and advancement; mattering and sense of belonging; how different groups experience the workplace environment differently; encounters with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other –isms at work; satisfaction with the College’s responses to reports of abuse, unfair treatment, and climate problems; and appraisals of the institution’s commitment to equity. LACRELA hosts monthly programs on DEI topics that address racial equity, campus systems of oppression, and curricular issues, among others, which Hamilton faculty and staff members may attend.
  • A staff opening created an opportunity to rework some support services for students. Allen Harrison will move to Academic Support Services and his position will focus on accessibility for students with disabilities. We will also hire a director of international student services to support our international students. This position will report into Student Life.
  • Beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, Martin Luther King Day will be added as a College holiday for staff.

The College is also continuing to identify and apply for external grants to fund faculty and other positions related to DEI; reviewing the SSIH requirement and bolstering its implementation; and identifying opportunities, resources, and support to augment how the curriculum includes and explores the histories, identities, and voices of traditionally underrepresented communities. As the current chief diversity officer (CDO), Dean Terry Martinez continues to track progress toward our diversity goals. Once a new CDO is on board, work will begin on a new comprehensive, multi-year DEI Strategic Plan, which will include input from a diverse group of Hamilton community members.

Much has been done to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton, but much work remains to be done to become more fully welcoming and inclusive for all in our community. I look forward to working with you toward that goal.

David

Planning for Fall 2021, April 26, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

As we approach the end of the spring semester, we can take great pride in the way our community has responded to the challenges of the past year. While the pandemic is far from over, we are looking forward to a resumption this fall of full in-person learning and most if not all of the co-curricular and extracurricular activities that make the Hamilton residential experience so vibrant.

Vaccination
A substantial majority of our community is already or will soon be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the vaccines to be safe and effective, and federal, state, and local authorities all urge widespread vaccination as the fastest and safest way to achieve herd immunity and a return to a relatively normal life. Although no vaccine is entirely without risk, we believe the risks of COVID-19 are greater, particularly in a congregate setting such as ours. Accordingly, all students, except those eligible for religious or medical exceptions, will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus this fall or working on campus this summer. We think this is the best way to protect the health and safety of our community and to allow us to resume a full range of activities. We understand that some students, particularly international students, may have difficulty getting vaccinated or encounter visa and travel issues. We will work individually with students in those situations.

At this point, we are strongly encouraging but not requiring all employees to get vaccinated, and we will continue to monitor guidance from federal and state authorities on this subject.

Instruction and Academic Calendar
We will return to a normal academic calendar in the fall, with classes beginning Thursday, Aug. 26. We are also planning an in-person program for Opportunity students this summer, and a full Orientation program for first-year and transfer students the week before classes resume. With few exceptions, we expect that fall classes will be fully in person. Like most of our peers, we are not planning to offer a remote learning option.

Campus Life
We think it likely we will be able to hold a full range of campus activities this fall, including in-person concerts, lectures, performances, and events. We also expect a full athletics schedule, though that decision will be made by the NESCAC presidents at a future date. COVID-19 protocols will depend on whatever guidance is issued by New York State and public health authorities, but we expect a considerable relaxation of our current masking, distancing, and testing policies.

While we are optimistic about conditions this fall, we will be prepared to shift course if necessary. This past year has demonstrated the strength and resilience of our community, and I am confident that together we will surmount whatever challenges lie ahead.

David

Justice for George Floyd, April 20, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Late this afternoon, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. While the jury’s decision provides a measure of accountability in this case, the problem of racialized policing remains.

George Floyd’s murder captured the nation’s attention as another painful, visible, and shocking manifestation of the violence with which people of color in this country are all too familiar. But most cases involving police killings of Black Americans do not result in prosecutions, much less convictions.

No single court decision can bring back lives lost or families torn apart. No one prosecution can redress the grief and suffering caused by systemic racism. But all of us can bear witness to injustice and speak up when we see it, and we can and should now renew our commitment to create a more just, inclusive, and supportive community.

In the days ahead, discussions about what the Chauvin case means will undoubtedly take place in classrooms, residence halls, and elsewhere on campus. In addition, the Division of Student Life will be coordinating with other offices on campus an opportunity to gather as a community in support of one another. Please look for information regarding that gathering soon.

In the meantime, many resources are available to anyone who needs support. They include the Counseling Center (315-859-4340), the Dean of Students Office (315-859-4020), and the Chaplaincy (315-859-4130).

David

Joint Statement From NY6 College Presidents on Chauvin Trial Verdict, April 20, 2021

The presidents of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium member institutions have issued a statement following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minnesota. The statement reads:

Today, a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd.

Like communities across the nation, our campuses have been roiled by Mr. Floyd’s murder and by the violence inflicted upon people of color in incidents that are far too frequent. The recent deaths of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago remind us that much work remains to be done to end systemic racism and racialized policing.

We call upon all members of our communities to commit themselves to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and in everything we do, everywhere we go. Our actions cannot bring back lives that have been tragically and violently cut short, and cannot ease the suffering of grieving families. But taking determined action against racism and injustice is the only way we will prevent these killings from happening in the future and begin to heal as a nation.

Each of our schools will provide opportunities for discussions about the Chauvin case in the coming days, and many resources are available to members of our campus communities who need support. Join us in this critically important work.

Sincerely,

Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
David Wippman, Hamilton College
Joyce P. Jacobsen, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University
Marc C. Conner, Skidmore College
David R. Harris, Union College

Next Steps: DEI Advisory Council Proposals, March 30, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

In my March 18 note to the campus, I expressed gratitude to the Advisory Council for its thoughtful and far-reaching proposals to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton. The Council devoted a great deal of time and energy to developing those proposals, and Hamilton will be a stronger institution as a result. It now falls to all of us to carry that work forward. As promised in my earlier message, I am detailing in this document responses to each of the Council’s proposals, with a specific individual or individuals assigned to take the lead on implementation. In the months ahead, we will determine how best to measure and track our response, and will share our progress with the community on the College’s DEI website.

This work is a priority for Hamilton. I hope everyone will join in making Hamilton a more welcoming and inclusive community by helping to implement the council’s proposals or by developing and pursuing other DEI initiatives. I encourage your active participation.

David

Advancing DEI: Preliminary Response to the Advisory Council’s Proposals, March 18, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Earlier this week the Advisory Council submitted its final proposals for addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton. I am grateful to the council members for the many hours they invested in this important work for the College and its future. Their proposals are thoughtful and far-reaching.

The proposals call for action by all members of the Hamilton community, including faculty, students, staff, the administration, the board of trustees, and alumni. I have already begun to discuss the final proposals with senior staff, and we have set aside time in future meetings to continue those discussions. I recognize that not everyone supported the process leading to the Advisory Council’s recommendations, but I hope all members of our community will consider how they can continue to contribute to the College’s ongoing DEI work.

At some point in the next few weeks, I will write again with a detailed response to the Advisory Council’s proposals. For the moment, I will just say that I share the council’s belief that we have an obligation to enact the structural changes that will make Hamilton a more inclusive and welcoming community for all its members, and I look forward to working with all of you to make that happen.

We are reminded of the importance of this work on a daily basis. As I write this, jury selection continues in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, one of many recent instances of racialized police violence. Yesterday I wrote about escalating attacks against Asian Americans. Even a cursory look at the news on any given day highlights the continuing suffering caused by systemic racism and inequality.

There is, of course, a limit to what we at Hamilton can do to address these broader societal challenges, but we have an obligation to do what we can and to make Hamilton a community where bigotry of any kind has no place.

David

Standing in Solidarity with Members of the Asian American Community, March 17, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

On Tuesday, a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, six of them Asian American. While the motivation for this terrible crime is still being investigated, it comes in the wake of an appalling series of attacks on Asian Americans around the country. Incidents involving anti-Asian bias have accelerated since the start of the pandemic, driven in part by false claims about its origins. In the last year alone, thousands of such incidents, including violent assaults, verbal abuse, employment discrimination, and online bullying, have been reported across the United States. What these incidents have in common, apart from the ignorance and intolerance of those responsible, is that they violate the most basic values of our community and contribute to a climate of fear and anxiety for those who identify as Asian.

I have heard from members of the Hamilton community who have had their own experience with the kinds of hateful acts now multiplying in so many parts of the country, and who feel acutely the pain of recent events. I want to encourage anyone who needs support to take advantage of the many resources available to them through the Counseling Center, the Dean of Students Office, and the Employee Assistance Program. Dean Martinez has already reached out to the Asian Student Union to express solidarity and concern. In addition, Dean Martinez, along with Associate Dean Maria Genao-Homs and the Days-Massolo Center Director Paola Lopez Fincannon, will host a Zoom drop-in session tomorrow evening at 7:00 PM as a space for students to share their thoughts or join in conversation. Please let them know if you would like to join and they will send you a link.

Racism and bigotry have no place in our community or our country, and while the burdens they impose fall most heavily on those who are the targets of intolerance, it is incumbent on all of us to work together to achieve a better and stronger community for all.

David

COVID-19: One Year Later, March 17, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Exactly one year ago, I shared the heartbreaking news that Hamilton would suspend in-person instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. At the time, we had no known cases of COVID-19 on campus and only one confirmed case in Oneida County. None of us knew what to expect or how fast the virus would spread, so I urged us to “have faith in each other to meet whatever comes next.” We did and we have.

Immediately after my announcement, staff across campus began working nonstop to ensure all of our students made it home safely and received whatever support they needed to continue their studies remotely. In just two weeks, the faculty, with support from LITS, managed to redesign the entire spring curriculum for remote instruction. As the pandemic worsened, we all began planning for a fall semester unlike any in the history of the College.

It has not been easy, and we are not out of the woods yet. For some, the virus has had tragic consequences, and to them I extend the College’s deepest sympathy. I am grateful for the sacrifices each of you has made to help Hamilton navigate the pandemic.

We seem at last to have reached a turning point. COVID case numbers are declining, and the vaccination rate is increasing. I think it likely we will be able to return to relatively normal operations in the fall. But let’s not let up too soon. The pandemic has a way of roaring back whenever that happens, so please continue to follow all of our COVID protocols.

As you reflect on the pandemic experience, you may be interested in a new webpage devoted to the “sights, sounds and stories” from the past year. Despite all the challenges, we can all be proud of the way our community has risen to the moment.

David

Spring 2021 Sports Competition and Other Authorized Student Activities Off Campus, March 9, 2021

Dear Hamilton Community Members,

With Hamilton now operating in COVID Normal (Green) status, we are developing plans to resume some long-awaited co-curricular activities.

Moments ago my fellow NESCAC presidents and I announced a plan to resume conference competition, beginning in April, for spring sports. Hamilton will participate in a carefully planned, abbreviated schedule with stringent safety protocols.

In addition, the College’s COVID-19 Task Force has begun to review proposed guidelines to allow student groups to travel off campus with a College faculty or staff member for field trips, research, and other authorized student activities. More information about the safety requirements for these groups will be shared in the coming days.

As long as conditions surrounding the pandemic remain favorable, and policies and protocols across New York and New England permit it, Hamilton intends to support NESCAC conference competition for all spring sports teams:

  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Men’s and Women’s Golf
  • Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse
  • Men’s and Women’s Rowing
  • Men’s and Women’s Tennis
  • Men’s and Women’s Track and Field

The College has not yet decided whether or under what conditions to permit spectators for sports competitions, but many of the events will be livestreamed.

This announcement marks nearly one year to the date when I announced that Spring 2020 classes would be conducted remotely after spring break. We all recognize the tremendous hardships caused by the pandemic, including but not limited to pausing many of the campus activities we associate with college life. The College is making these decisions with the confidence that everyone will continue to put the health and safety of our campus community first, by following all the required and suggested practices. I hope these changes can continue for the rest of the semester and will enable you to resume many of the activities that you enjoy and that make your college experience truly Hamilton.

David

Commencement 2021, March 4, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Earlier today, I sent the message below to the Class of 2021. I know you share the disappointment I expressed to our seniors on behalf of the College. The circumstances that make it impossible to plan a traditional commencement for our seniors also forced us to delay again the in-person ceremony for the Class of 2020. That event, which had been rescheduled for June 6, will be postponed a second time until it is safe and appropriate to bring the class back together.

Like you, I feel badly for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, but I appreciate the strength and determination they have exhibited under these difficult circumstances.

David
 



Dear Seniors,

I know you have been waiting eagerly for information about your Commencement. We will provide more details in the coming weeks, but I wanted to share our current plans so that you can begin to make arrangements. Thank you for your patience as we have worked through a range of options.

We are planning now for an in-person ceremony in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Saturday, May 22, one day earlier than originally scheduled. We hope that seniors studying remotely will join their classmates in person, though this will likely require an onboarding quarantine and testing process similar to the one held in January.

At this point, and with deep regret, we intend to limit participation in Commencement to graduating seniors and invited speakers. We would love to welcome families, friends, faculty, staff, and other guests, but we can’t be confident that a gathering of that magnitude will be permitted by the state of New York or that it would be prudent in light of the pandemic. We hope conditions will improve in a way that makes it possible to hold a larger gathering, and we will let you know promptly of any changes in our plans. At a minimum, the College will provide a livestream of Commencement for family and friends to watch from home.

I recognize how disappointing this news must be, especially considering the challenges your class has faced in the past year. I can assure you that we would like nothing more than to be able to host a more traditional Commencement ceremony.

I also know from my recent discussions with the Senior Class Planning Committee how much you have been looking forward to celebrating with your classmates in the days leading up to Commencement. Most peer colleges have either canceled or sharply reduced senior week activities, but after consulting with the Senior Class Planning Committee, I believe we can host several days of activities that are safe and that follow our COVID-19 guidelines. I’m grateful to your class representatives for the selfless, cooperative, and imaginative ways they considered and responded to the different options that were proposed. More details will follow. In the meantime, I encourage you to share any ideas you have for Senior Days and Commencement with the Senior Class Planning Committee by emailing srwkcomm@hamilton.edu. I plan to hold an open session with your class in the near future to answer any questions you may have.

None of us anticipated that your last year at Hamilton would unfold under the shadow of a global pandemic, and we all hoped to celebrate with full pomp and circumstance the conclusion of your studies here. I can assure you we will do everything possible to make your Commencement meaningful, festive, and memorable.

David

March 3 Wellness Day is Coming, February 25, 2021

Dear Students,

Next Wednesday, March 3, is the first of two Wellness Days for the semester. Classes and team practices will not be held, and Dean Suzanne Keen sent a note last week encouraging faculty members not to assign work that day or have assignments due the following day. I hope student organizations, too, will take full advantage of our first Wellness Day by not scheduling meetings or holding other organized activities.

So how will you spend a day with no classes, no practices, no rehearsals, and no meetings? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Read for pleasure – The Burke Library has an extensive popular reading collection located near the newspapers, journals, and magazines on the first floor. You can also check-out books from the Kirkland Town Library by calling 315-853-2038 or emailing clinton@midyork.org and your selection will be delivered to Burke for pick-up since travel off campus is not permitted.
  • Take a walk in a glen – The Hamilton campus is an arboretum with many scenic hiking and walking trails. Spend some time enjoying the beauty that surrounds you.
  • Enjoy the snow – There are so many ways to enjoy the winter season. Make a snow sculpture, try snowshoeing, use the groomed cross country ski trails, or check-out a fat tire bike (something I’ve tried several times, with mixed results). Weather permitting, visit the Glen House to borrow equipment (Hill Card and green emocha badge required).
  • Sleep in – Don’t set your alarm, and then, after having a nice meal, take a nap. Dean Martinez reminds us often that rest is important for wellness.
  • Watch a movie or binge watch a television series – Did you know several movies have been filmed on the Hamilton campus or that some of our alumni have produced or starred in a variety of movies and television programs? Our Communications Office compiled a list of movies and television series with a Hamilton connection, and LITS offers a number streaming video services that you may enjoy.
  • Exercise – The fitness centers, field house, pool, rink, and climbing wall will all be open on Wednesday. Just remember to show your emocha green badge. We also offer a full menu of wellness programs on Zoom (no badge required).
  • Find your inner child – Use the freebies from this week’s FebFest swag drop to paint, color, or do puzzles (for the dissectologists among us). You may find a new interest or even a new talent.
  • Do something for yourself – Perhaps you haven’t had time to check out the list of resources on the Health and Wellness website. Wednesday is a perfect day to explore the options available to you, not just on March 3, but throughout the semester.

We are a campus of smart, talented, and highly motivated people, but we all need time to relax. Give yourself permission to take the day off and do something special. Or, if you wish, feel free to do nothing at all. 

David

Shared Responsibility, February 15, 2021

Dear Hamilton Community Members,

Last week the Spectator printed my letter reminding new and continuing students of the different channels available to offer ideas, suggestions, and feedback. These opportunities extend to faculty and staff as well, who are always welcome to email me at dwippman@hamilton.edu or set up an appointment by contacting Jacke Jones at jrjones@hamilton.edu.

I write now to urge everyone to provide feedback to the Advisory Council established last summer to recommend short-term and long-term actions to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the College. On January 25, the council published its draft proposals and invited comments. The council also made public a set of materials documenting some of the College’s past DEI efforts. Continuing to make progress on DEI is a shared responsibility, and every voice is important:

  1. You can send your comments using the “BE HEARD” button on the Advisory Council website.
  2. Follow-up meetings are being scheduled to hear feedback from groups that met earlier with the council. If your organization would like to schedule a meeting to offer group feedback, please contact Gill King (gking@hamilton.edu) or Phyllis Breland (pbreland@hamilton.edu).
  3. Members of the Advisory Council are available in pairs to host virtual office hours for individuals and small groups to discuss the proposals. Please email advisory-council@hamilton.edu to request an appointment.
  4. You are always welcome to reach out directly to any of the members listed on the council’s website.

After the feedback period, the council will submit its final recommendations. Those recommendations and the College’s response will be shared with all Hamilton community members. Of course, the College’s anti-racism work will not be limited to implementing council recommendations. Many groups and individuals contribute to the College’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and I trust they will continue to do so. The council’s proposals are simply one part, although an important part, of that larger shared effort.

David

New Semester, Ongoing Challenges, January 21, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Welcome back, and a special welcome to the first-year and transfer students who are joining us for the first time.

We begin the second half of Hamilton’s 209th academic year at one of the most consequential moments in decades. The challenges here and around the globe are enormous: a pandemic that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide; a new U.S. administration taking office in the face of a dangerously divided populace; urgent calls to end systemic racism; an economic crisis and a growing wealth gap exacerbated by the effects of the coronavirus; and increasing concern about climate change.

In this environment, it would be easy to overlook the importance of the work we do together. But education is not simply a means for self-improvement; it is also, as Nelson Mandela put it, “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” What we do here helps shape the world we inhabit, the society we seek to create, and the people we want to become.

We have already demonstrated our ability – individually and collectively – to be flexible and resilient; we will need that strength even more this semester. COVID-19 case numbers are far higher, both nationally and locally, than they were this fall, and more transmissible variants of the virus are starting to spread. Colleges that brought students back to campus earlier this month are seeing many more positive cases than they did when students returned in August. We should expect to encounter similar results, so it is vitally important that we adhere closely – especially in the first few weeks – to the pandemic protocols we have instituted to protect ourselves and each other. With this in mind, Hamilton will begin Modified operating status (yellow alert level) on Jan. 25, with the goal of quickly re-establishing the Hamilton bubble and then relaxing our restrictions.

Thank you for the perseverance and resilience you have already demonstrated. We were successful in the fall, and working together, we can have a productive and successful semester this spring. Please travel safely as you make your way to campus and best wishes for a healthy, safe, and rewarding semester.

David

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Recent events show we have a long way to go to achieve the just and equitable society Dr. King envisioned.

In August 1963, Dr. King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States. Some 250,000 people converged on the nation’s capital as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Partly to avoid any suggestion of a threat to Congress, organizers shifted the gathering site from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. The contrast to the recent violent and seditious assault on the halls of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives could hardly be more stark.

In his speech, which I have listened to many times, Dr. King reminded Americans of the need for immediate change — “the fierce urgency of now” — and offered an inspirational vision of a country that could finally “live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

King hoped to “speed up that day” when everyone in the United States would “be able to join hands and sing . . . ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’” The 1963 March on Washington and Dr. King’s extraordinary courage and leadership helped galvanize the civil rights movement and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But decades later, we are far from realizing “that day” King envisioned.

That is why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not just a holiday, but a call to action, an urgent call to eradicate systemic racism whenever and wherever we encounter it, whether it be violence against Black men and women at the hands of police officers, a denial of equal opportunity, or the more subtle indignities directed at underrepresented populations.

The first step involves recognizing that racism and inequity exist in our society, in our communities, and on our campus, and then taking action to further the antiracism work already being done by many students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This morning, as part of a new professional development program titled The Hamilton Academy, we offered employees a virtual workshop on how to safely interrupt interpersonal racist behaviors, the first in a series on building belonging on campus. In the next week or two, the Advisory Council will share its ideas for enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the College and seek your feedback. I hope you will take the time to offer your reactions and suggestions.

We have done a lot to make diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities at Hamilton. But, given “the fierce urgency of now,” we have much more to do.

David

Yesterday’s Challenge to Principles We Cherish, January 7, 2021

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Yesterday, I watched with shock, sorrow, and outrage as a mob attacked the nation’s Capitol, attempting to block certification of November’s election results. This lawless assault on the democratic process quickly and rightfully attracted widespread condemnation.

Late last night and early this morning, Congress came together to affirm the electoral count that officially certifies Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. American democracy has withstood an unprecedented challenge to its founding principles.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s events and those of the 2020 election are a reminder that the values we cherish must never be taken for granted. Such vigilance must apply not just to the electoral process, but to the principles important to us as individuals and as a College committed to being a community in which all members feel valued, political and other differences are treated with respect, and education helps prepare students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship.

It is too soon to predict the long-term consequences of yesterday’s events. My hope is that yesterday marks an inflection point, a high-water mark for the politics of division and resentment, and that Americans from across the political spectrum can begin to come together to address the many challenges ahead.

This spring, we will have many opportunities to discuss what happened, where the country should go, and how it should get there. I look forward to welcoming you to campus soon and to participating in those conversations. In the meantime, please stay safe.

David

2020

Thoughts After an Unsettled and Unsettling Election, November 11, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Like many of you, I spent much of last night anxiously watching the election returns. This has been the most contentious election in my lifetime, and it has exposed deep rifts in American society. The anxiety we have felt in the weeks and months leading up to election day is compounded by the uncertainty we now face as we wait for the final outcome. I sympathize with the dismay and apprehension many in our community are experiencing.

As we wait for the official results, it’s important for all of us to remember that Hamilton is a community of diverse thought and affiliations. Whether you identify as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or something else, we are all members of the same academic community and seek the common good as we understand it. Even so, the days ahead are likely to be particularly painful for some members of our community, who will need our understanding and support.

There are many ways to process this extraordinary moment in our nation’s history. At some point, we must seek to understand why we are so divided as a country and how we might best move forward. At the same time, we have to recognize the emotional toll the election is taking, especially on the most vulnerable members of our community. For many, concerns over personal safety or dismay at the direction the country may be taking will feel overwhelming, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to support each other. I encourage those who need or want help to take advantage of the counseling and many other support resources available to both students and employees. An “Ask a Government Professor” session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today, and there are many Zoom drop-in opportunities and other processing circles hosted by the Dean of Students Office happening over the next two weeks.

Like all of you, I am waiting and wondering, unsure of when this election will get resolved and what the ultimate outcome might mean for the country and the world. As we wait, I take pride in knowing that the members of our community have been active and engaged citizens through HamVotes and other initiatives and have done what they can to shape the future. More importantly, I am grateful to be part of a close-knit community whose members care for and support one another in moments like this one.

David

Important Notice about Spring 2021, October 21, 2020

Dear Hamilton Students,

With Thanksgiving just a month away, I wanted to share with you our plans for the spring. Our experience with in-person instruction thus far proves that, despite the pandemic, we can bring our community together safely and accomplish our educational goals, while enjoying on-campus activities and each other’s company. Our success owes much to your cooperation with our health and safety protocols, and I appreciate the flexibility and resiliency you have shown.

Thank you also for the commitment you have made to your studies, your professors, and your peers. We cannot escape entirely the effects of COVID-19, but if we continue to follow the guidelines put in place for everyone’s safety, the disruptions will be manageable. We know the pandemic policies are challenging, but we also know they give us the best chance of minimizing positive cases and continuing with in-person education.

Even as we focus on concluding the fall term successfully, we are looking forward to welcoming new students who are arriving in late January, including January admits, transfers, and first-year students who deferred their enrollment from the fall.

In most respects, the College’s plans for the spring semester will very much resemble the plans for fall. We will continue to follow New York State (NYS) guidance for higher education and the best practices that we know from experience have been successful. Please read this message carefully, because it requires action on your part and contains information you should know.

 
Declare Your Intention for Spring 2021
ACTION REQUIRED: Please read the information that follows and then complete this form by Friday, Oct. 30, to declare whether you intend to be on campus, study remotely, or request a leave of absence for the spring semester. We understand that your intentions may change after you submit the form, but your current thinking will help with our planning. If your intentions change, please complete the form again and your new response will be recorded.

Incoming students who are starting in January (i.e., first-year students who deferred from the fall, January admits, and January transfers) have the option to be present on campus or, if they can’t or shouldn’t travel to campus for pandemic-related reasons, to petition to complete their coursework remotely from home for the spring semester. New students may not defer their start for an additional semester, unless there are extenuating circumstances that should be considered by the Admission Office.

Returning students have the option to be present on campus, request to complete their coursework remotely from home, or request a personal leave of absence. Students who request a personal leave should do so understanding that there may be financial implications for not being enrolled in college (please speak with the Financial Aid Office), consequences for academic progress (please speak with your academic advisor and note that Hamilton’s policy of not accepting transfer credit for online courses taken at another institution will remain in effect for the spring semester), visa/SEVIS consequences for international students (please consult with Dean Harrison), and that it may not be possible to readmit students for the semester they prefer due to enrollment constraints, including housing or course limitations.

Remember, the deadline for completing the form to indicate your intent for the spring 2021 semester is Friday, Oct. 30.
 
Departing for Winter Break

The deadline to vacate your room this semester is Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 10 a.m. Please take all your valuables with you, pack all remaining belongings into boxes that will be provided for you, and clearly label the boxes with your shipping address. We are once again planning for an in-residence semester in the spring, but if NYS mandates online teaching and learning, packing now will make it easier for you to return and quickly pick up your possessions or have them shipped to you. Belongings that are not packed may be discarded. With the exception of students allowed by Residential Life to remain on campus over the break, no one will be permitted to enter unoccupied residence halls during the break period.

Transportation shuttle information can be online. You must have a reservation ahead of time in order to use this service.

If you are unable to return home and cannot spend the break with family or friends, and you have not already submitted a request to stay on campus, please contact Residential Life at reslife@hamilton.edu as soon as possible.


What to Expect When You Return in January

Campus Move-in
To facilitate physical distancing during move-in, Residential Life will assign staggered arrival times from Tuesday to Friday, Jan. 26 to 29. Be sure to check your email regularly during the break for important notices and deadlines. When planning your arrival, please remember that only one family member or friend is permitted inside the residence hall to assist you during move-in.

Orientation is required for all new students and will take place from Friday Jan. 29, through Sunday, Jan. 31. New students who will be studying on campus in the spring will move in to their residence halls on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 26 and 27. All new students — both those studying remotely and those studying on campus — will receive information about orientation via email.

Testing for COVID-19 and Quarantine
Pre-Testing:
The College is working on a plan to provide a test kit for you to take with you when you leave campus at the end of the fall semester. The company we are most likely using will work with you to observe the test (virtually) when you take it on a specific date. If you are not on campus this fall, we will mail a kit to you. Do not lose the kit! You should self-administer the test seven days before your move-in date and mail it to the lab. You must receive a negative test result before coming to campus. We will send you a reminder to take the test and any updates on details.

Upon Arrival: Every student must go directly to the testing center and then check in with Residential Life. Students who were not on campus this fall will receive a health kit containing face coverings, thermometers, hand sanitizer, and instructions on self-care. After being tested, you will quarantine in your residence hall room until your test result comes back negative, which is usually within 24 to 36 hours. You will be allowed to leave your room to pick up food at a specific time at a specific dining location and then return to your room to eat and continue quarantine. You may want to bring some snacks with you to campus.

Required Quarantine for Students Coming from Restricted States and from Outside the USA: The joint travel advisory by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut mandates that travelers from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York State. Because of the large number of states now on the travel advisory list, we are reviewing options for meeting the quarantine requirements and will update you as soon as we can.

Health and Safety On Campus
COVID-19 Community Standards Agreement
The Student Code of Conduct is clear about our safety expectations. We will amend the COVID-19 Community Standards Agreement based on what we have learned this semester. All students will receive our updated standards and will be required to agree to these rules as a condition for coming to and remaining on campus.

Physical distancing and face coverings: Classrooms and other campus areas are configured for physical distancing. Winter weather will require us to be indoors most of the time, so it becomes even more important to wear masks and remain six feet apart. The only time you should remove your face covering is if you are in your room with your roommate, you are eating (and maintaining physical distance), or you are tending to personal hygiene.

COVID-19 Monitoring, Testing, and Tracing: As mandated by NYS, all students and employees are required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis. Hamilton will likely require students to be tested three times each week for the first two weeks of the spring semester and two times each week after that. We will assign certain days for your testing and it is essential that you test on those days.

Under current public health guidelines, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate until cleared by medical personnel. Close contacts of anyone who tests positive must quarantine for 14 days. We have secured appropriate isolation and quarantine spaces for students and will provide food, health monitoring, and other support, so you should be able to continue your studies remotely for most courses. For more information, visit the FAQs page on the Returning to Campus website.

Academic Life
Spring Calendar

The Spring 2021 semester begins later than usual and will not include a spring break, but the revised calendar includes two wellness days with no classes. Orientation for new students will begin on Friday, Jan. 29. Classes will start on Monday, Feb. 1, and end on Tuesday, May 11. Wednesday and Thursday, May 12 and 13, are designated reading days, and finals will be conducted Friday to Tuesday, May 14 to 18.

Classes
Hamilton prides itself on the close engagement that occurs when faculty and students come together in small classes built around personalized instruction and lively group discussion. We aim to preserve this strength of a Hamilton education, while adapting the classroom experience as necessary to help ensure everyone’s health and safety.

Faculty will once again use a combination of in-person, hybrid, and blended learning. The course delivery method is noted in the online course catalogue. As soon as the weather permits, we will install canopies to be used as outdoor classroom and meeting spaces.

Most students are having a positive experience on campus this fall, and we encourage everyone to join our on-campus community for the spring. We know that some of you may decide to take classes remotely and others may decide to apply for a leave of absence. We will do what we can to assist students whose circumstances present obstacles to studying on campus in the spring.
 
Residential and Co-Curricular Life
Under NYS guidance, students sharing a room may be treated as a family unit and will not be required to wear face coverings or physically distance when in their rooms with their roommates. Occupancy of shared kitchen and lounge spaces will continue to be limited to permit physical distancing, and face coverings must be worn.

Dining halls must follow NYS guidance for restaurants. This requires a reduction in occupancy by as much as 50 percent and the elimination of buffet service. Accordingly, the College will continue working with Bon Appétit to offer multiple locations for dining and a mix of grab-and-go food options.

We will continue to plan events and activities that comply with physical distancing requirements so you will have co-curricular and social options without having to leave campus. Non-essential College travel is restricted for employees, and students should avoid unnecessary off-campus travel in order to limit the risk of exposure to and potential transmission of COVID-19.
 
Athletics and Extracurriculars
On Thursday, Oct. 8, the presidents of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) extended the current suspension of intercollegiate conference competition to the winter 2020-21 season. The decision for Hamilton applies to both varsity and club sports. The majority of the equipment from the Blood Fitness Center has been relocated to the Indoor Practice Facility so students can exercise and still observe distancing guidelines. The Bristol Pool, the Tietje Tennis Center, Pritchard Track, and the Simon Golf Center will be open (weather permitting) for limited, properly spaced activities that follow COVID-19 guidelines. A decision pertaining to the spring sports season will be made by the NESCAC presidents at a later date.
 
Possible Changes

As the pandemic evolves, we can expect changes in public health guidance, state directives, and our understanding of best practices for in-person education. Our plans must therefore remain flexible and will undoubtedly change in some respects. We will do our best to keep you informed in a timely way of any such changes.

Questions?
If you have questions, please feel free to submit them and someone will respond as quickly as possible.

Extended Holiday Closure, October 16, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank all of you for the extraordinary work you have done to reopen Hamilton in August and to keep the College operating safely and effectively this fall.

Together we have reimagined nearly every facet of our work and reconfigured almost every physical space on campus. On top of all your other responsibilities, many of you have volunteered to serve as contact tracers, assisted with the testing center, or pitched in to troubleshoot unexpected needs. Every office and department has risen to the occasion, and our students are grateful to all of you for giving them the opportunity to continue their education in person.

Thanksgiving and students’ departure from campus are less than six weeks away, so I wanted to share some news that may help with your end of the semester planning. As an expression of Hamilton’s gratitude for your work this year, and to provide a little extra time to recharge before we gear up for the spring semester, I am extending the holiday closure period to add six days of paid time off.

Under the revised schedule, the College will be closed on Friday, Dec. 18, and will reopen on Monday morning, Jan. 4. Hamilton will also be closed on Friday, Jan. 8, and Friday, Jan. 15. During these closure periods, the College will observe its closure pay policy.

I know that some departments will need to complete seasonal work during this time, and divisional vice presidents will speak with you about how to manage that. Students will return on a staggered arrival schedule from Jan. 26-29, and spring semester classes will begin on Monday, Feb. 1.

Thank you, again, for your wonderful support of our students and our College.

David

COVID-19 and Campus Violence, October 12, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I am writing to make you aware of several disturbing events that took place early Sunday morning. A large group of students gathered at the Babbitt Pavilion and on Minor Field, putting at risk the health and safety of everyone in the Hamilton community, and then ran away when confronted by three Campus Safety officers. Even more troubling, one or more students chose to throw a full beer can and a bottle at the responding officers. We are reviewing body cam footage in an effort to identify those responsible. There is no excuse for violence directed at any member of our community, and it will not be tolerated. Please contact Campus Safety if you have any information that can assist in investigating these incidents.

The College’s COVID-19 Task Force has been discussing ways in which we might relax our COVID-19 restrictions, but doing so is contingent on widespread compliance with our pandemic protocols. The blatant disregard for the safety of others shown Sunday morning calls that compliance into question.

David

Vote!, October 7, 2020

Dear Members the Hamilton Community,

This week, Oct. 5-9, is National Voter Education Week, so it seems an appropriate time to send a reminder about the importance of voting.

HamVotes, a non-partisan student group established in 2017, is working to increase voter education, voter registration, and ballot access. You can learn more on the HamVotes website and by following HamVotes on Instagram. HamVotes is also organizing Hamilton’s participation in the NESCAC All-In Challenge, an effort to increase voter turnout among all 11 NESCAC campuses in the 2020 general election. You can learn more about the 2020 election at Impact Change USA, a website co-developed by Chris Harrison ’23, and you may be interested in a YouTube video performed and produced by the cast of Hamilton, titled “Hamilton X When We All Vote.”

To help ensure every Hamilton community member eligible to vote can do so, HamVotes is providing:

  • Local Ballot Courier Service and Free Stamps for Mail-in and Absentee Ballots
    Students are invited to bring their completed ballots to the HamVotes ballot box at the Sadove Information Desk from now until Election Day. HamVotes faculty advisors will hand-deliver ballots for those voting in Oneida County to the Oneida County Board of Elections, and arrangements have been made to take ballots for other counties and states to the Mail Center to be stamped and mailed.
     
  • Early Voting and Election Day Transportation
    Transportation will be available on Saturday, Oct. 31, and Sunday, Nov. 1, for early voting at the New Hartford Town Hall and on Election Day (Nov. 3) at the Kirkland Municipal Building on Route 12B. This is an exception to our policy on off-campus travel, and we are asking everyone to use College-provided transportation. The shuttle schedule for voting locally will be available soon.

I’m grateful to the members of HamVotes for organizing this campaign, and I’m pleased to join them in encouraging all in our community to exercise your right to vote.

David

Joint Statement From NY6 College Presidents on International Student and Scholars Visa Programs, October 2, 2020

The presidents of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium member institutions have issued a statement opposing the changes to visa regulations for international students and visiting scholars which have been proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The proposed regulations would end the practice of issuing visas for the duration of a student’s academic studies or a scholar’s academic appointment and institute a fixed-term visa. The statement reads:

The member institutions of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium strongly object to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to the regulations governing F and J visas, which will directly affect hundreds of students and dozens of scholars at our six schools alone. The proposed move to a fixed-term visa, in lieu of the current duration-of-status standard, places an undue burden on these individuals and risks impoverishing the intellectual life of our campuses and communities.

International students enrolling in academic programs at American colleges are committing themselves to a well-defined program of study, and agreements with visiting scholars likewise define the terms of their engagement. The current regulations provide appropriate safeguards to ensure duration-of-stay visa requirements are met. While the proposed rule cites the growth in the number of international students and scholars obtaining F and J visas over the past three or more decades, no data are provided to support the contention that violations and fraud are significant issues. Importantly, the Department indicates that insufficient staffing impedes its ability to manage the volume of visa requests and visa holders.

The solution to that problem is not to reduce the number of individuals seeking F and J visas or to limit their stays; rather, the Department should request additional federal funding to improve its infrastructure so that our communities continue to benefit from the presence of international students and scholars.

DHS acknowledges the academic, cultural, and economic benefit these individuals bring to our institutions and communities. We implore the Department of Homeland Security to rescind the proposed regulations and continue the duration-of-stay standard for F and J visas.

Signed,

Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
David Wippman, Hamilton College
Joyce P. Jacobsen, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University
Marc C. Conner, Skidmore College
David R. Harris, Union College

About the New York Six: The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium facilitates collaboration and connection among its member institutions in fulfilling their educational missions and serving the public good. Through the sharing of expertise and resources, the Consortium enhances options for students, faculty, and staff, while reducing colleges' individual and collective operating and capital costs.

Hatred and Brutality Have No Place in Our Community or Our Country, September 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Since students returned to campus for the fall semester, we have had two deplorable incidents of hateful slurs shouted from cars by non-Hamilton community members passing through our campus. These incidents were reported to Campus Safety and the local police, and in both instances, suspects were quickly identified and investigations are underway.

Racism and bigotry in all forms have no place on our campus, in our community, or in our country. The systemic racism that continues to manifest in violence against Black lives feels closer than ever, most recently with the unveiling of a video showing the March death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y., at the hands of police officers who pinned him to the ground with a hood over his head. Today, the City of Utica released a statement and a video showing that a Black man, Kerwin Taylor, was brutally beaten by a white officer while detained in the back of a police vehicle. The officer has been suspended without pay and the incident has been referred to the Oneida County District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

This incident may spark strong emotions with you as it did with me. Recognizing that gathering together can be helpful to many in our community, but that doing so is complicated during a pandemic, we will reach out to others across campus to discuss how to proceed. You will receive more information about a gathering shortly.

David

A Challenging Start, August 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

After an extraordinary summer of planning to reopen our campus safely, I am delighted with how smoothly the first couple days of the semester have gone, and I’m grateful to those who worked so hard to welcome our students back to College Hill for another year of intellectual exploration and personal growth.

Nevertheless, as I discussed in my Convocation remarks on Sunday, the optimism and anticipation that come with the start of a new year are tempered by two extraordinary challenges: systemic racism that continues to manifest in violence against Black lives, most recently with the shootings of Jacob Blake, Trayford Pellerin, and Julian Edwin Roosevelt Lewis, and the coronavirus pandemic that continues to take lives across the country and around the world. Many in our community have been touched directly by one or both of these challenges. Our Black colleagues and friends, in particular, feel the pain and fear of ongoing police shootings, and these incidents should remind all of us of the importance of the anti-racism work that is needed in the country and at the College. Black Lives Matter.

Earlier this summer, in light of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, I noted that Hamilton would devote additional resources for diversity, equity, and inclusion and form an Advisory Council to host listening sessions and help us expedite a new equity and inclusion plan. All of this work is under way.

Just as we want to make Hamilton a safe place for students, faculty, and staff to study and work, despite the pandemic, we also want to make Hamilton a place where everyone feels safe, welcome, and included. Hamilton aims to prepare all students and graduates to change the world and make it a more just and equitable place.

Thank you, in advance, for being an active and committed participant in our efforts. The Advisory Council continues to welcome you to Be Heard, and the Dean of Students Office will soon be in touch about upcoming programming.

David

President Wippman joins legal and human rights experts in calling for public determination that genocide has been committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar, August 18, 2020

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar, August 18, 2020

Dear Member of the Hamilton Community,

Just as we modified the Fall 2020 academic calendar to limit campus community exposure to COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic, Hamilton will similarly compress the Spring 2021 schedule while still providing a full semester of instruction. The calendar subcommittee of Academic Council carefully weighed the benefits and disadvantages of several options before proposing the final plan. The new schedule was approved by Academic Council and shared with the Academic Continuity Advisory Committee and Senior Staff.

Spring orientation for new students will begin on Friday, Jan. 29, likely with a staggered arrival leading up to that date (details to follow for new families). Spring classes will begin on Monday, Feb. 1, and end on Tuesday, May 11. Wednesday and Thursday, May 12 and 13, are designated reading days, and finals will be conducted Friday to Tuesday, May 14 to 18.

Unfortunately, there will be no spring break. This was a difficult decision, and I realize it will be disappointing to many of you. As in the fall, however, we wanted to reduce the likelihood that students and employees traveling outside our region might bring the virus back to campus with them. The revised calendar does include two wellness days, a Tuesday and a Wednesday, with no classes. While eliminating the two-week break also means canceling some traditional activities — including service trips, athletics trips, and off-campus research — the new wellness days create an opportunity for our community to focus collectively on a topic that is, perhaps, more important than ever.

Under the revised calendar, classes will be held Monday through Friday. Unlike the fall semester, no Saturday classes will be required. The spring semester will finish on time, with a shortened set of Senior Days leading up to Commencement for the Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 23. As previously announced, a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be held on campus on Sunday, June 6.

As always, these plans may change as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you on campus soon.

David

Toward a More Equitable and Inclusive Hamilton, August 3, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Many of you have written to me to offer your ideas, describe your experiences, and share your frustrations with the pace of change at Hamilton. I have carefully reviewed every message, many of which have been distressing to read. They all reinforce the urgency and importance of the task ahead of us, and the need to develop new strategies to ensure an equitable and inclusive community.

In response to feedback in June, a new Advisory Council was established to bring together a cross-section of the entire Hamilton community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, parents, and the Village of Clinton) to assist me and the administration of the College in assessing the effectiveness of existing equity and inclusion efforts. The Council will advise us as we expedite the development and implementation of a robust equity and inclusion plan. The Council has already begun to review College reports and other data on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and will soon begin to conduct listening sessions to gather testimonials and feedback from members of our community. I encourage you to share your experiences and ideas with the Advisory Council by emailing Advisory-Council@hamilton.edu. The Advisory Council is meeting weekly and will report its progress on the Hamilton DEI website, which is in the process of being substantially revised.

At the same time, senior staff will continue to develop and review divisional goals and will also report progress on the DEI website. Working groups for the DEI strategic plan will meet and report regularly to Dean Martinez, with the goal of sharing a draft plan with focus groups this fall.

Even as we face the continuing challenge of COVID-19, Hamilton is committed to building a stronger and more inclusive community.

David

Hamilton Signs Amicus Supporting Harvard and MIT, July 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community:

I am writing with an update to my message on July 8. As a member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, Hamilton College has joined an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT challenging the forthcoming ICE SEVP rules regarding online study for international students.

Also, the New York Six consortium presidents issued a joint statement, which was published by the USA Today Network.

The Dean of Students’ office has been in touch with our international students, including through a virtual town hall earlier this week. Hamilton will continue to do everything we can to assist them and to minimize disruption to their education.

David

Joint Statement From NY6 College Presidents on International Students and Scholars, July 8, 2020

Fayetteville, NY (July 8, 2020) – The presidents of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium today issued a statement objecting to the Trump Administration’s recent actions limiting opportunities for international students and scholars on American college campuses. These actions include new restrictions in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program imposed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the suspension of the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program for skilled workers, through which colleges and universities hire faculty and postdoctoral scholars. The statement reads:

The Presidents of the member schools of the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium (Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College, and Union College) strongly object to recent actions by the federal government which restrict access and opportunities for international students and scholars, thereby limiting the educational experience for all students.

The changes to the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which force institutions to offer in-person instruction or risk deportation of international students with F-1 and M-1 visas, are perplexing. Though our six institutions plan to offer a blend of face-to-face and remote courses in the fall, the unpredictable nature of the pandemic may force a return to fully remote instruction at a future point in order to protect the health and safety of our campuses and local communities. Such a decision would have grave consequences for our international students, whose education would be drastically disrupted through no fault of their own. We fail to see how this action is justifiable. The accommodations accorded to international students for the spring and summer should be continued at least through the fall term.

We also object to President Trump’s Executive Order to suspend the H-1B visa program, which is critically important to our ability to hire faculty and postdoctoral scholars with unique skill sets that ensure we are preparing the next generation of American workers with the highest quality education possible. The impact of this Order reaches well beyond higher education; it will have a severe impact on many U.S. businesses and industries.

The reason we seek international scholars and skilled workers is because there are not enough qualified Americans to meet demand across the broad scope of higher education and many business sectors in the U.S. We strongly encourage the Trump Administration to rescind this Order to ensure that our colleges and universities and businesses and industries are able to attract the best talent from across the world to yield the discoveries and innovations that will fuel U.S. economic recovery and growth.

The presence of international students and scholars on our campuses helps to prepare all of our students to be global citizens – to live in increasingly diverse and multicultural communities and to pursue careers in a global marketplace. Federal actions that restrict this important aspect of a college education threaten our nation’s status as a world leader.

The New York Six presidents signing on to this statement are: Brian W. Casey, Colgate University; David Wippman, Hamilton College; Joyce P. Jacobsen, Hobart and William Smith Colleges; William L. Fox, St. Lawrence University; Marc C. Conner, Skidmore College; and David R. Harris, Union College.

About the New York Six: The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium facilitates collaboration and connection among its member institutions in fulfilling their educational missions and serving the public good. Through the sharing of expertise and resources, the Consortium enhances options for students, faculty, and staff, while reducing colleges' individual and collective operating and capital costs.

Support for International Students, July 8, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Earlier this week, the federal government issued new guidelines to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which could seriously disrupt the education of our new and continuing international students studying with F-1 and M-1 visas this fall. As Allen Harrison shared in his note to the campus last night, international students will not be permitted to enter or remain in the United States if the colleges they attend teach all classes remotely. These new guidelines are alarming and unjustifiable, especially at a time when the world community is relying on the collective wisdom and commitment of all its citizens to address the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hamilton intends to offer in-person instruction this fall, but the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means we could be forced at any time to resume remote learning to protect the health and safety of our community. If such change proves necessary, our international students might be forced to leave the country, putting their education and wellbeing at risk.

Hamilton is part of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of college and university leaders that supports policies to create a welcoming environment for immigrant, undocumented, and international students. The Alliance is working to find ways to address the issues created by the recent federal guidelines, and the College supports those efforts. We are also reaching out to our representatives in Congress to seek their support.

We are in touch with our international students to provide the information and guidance they need as they consider their individual situations, and will do everything we can to assist them and to minimize disruption to their education. Especially now, we welcome the perspective and experiences they bring to our classrooms and campus.

David

Response to Community Standards Violation, June 28, 2020

Dear Hamilton Community,

A Facebook video came to our attention this morning, showing someone who previously worked at the College as a contract employee of our food services provider making despicable racist slurs. I am appalled by what is on the video. He will not be employed here again and has been banned from our campus effective immediately. The behavior shown on the video is an extreme violation of our community standards and will not be tolerated. We will review our own and our contractors’ employee screening and training policies to be sure appropriate requirements are in place.

I will also reach out to the Utica resident who was the target of this individual's slurs. I want her to know that racism and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated at Hamilton College.

David

An Overview of Hamilton’s Fall 2020 Operating Plan, June 26, 2020

Dear Hamilton Students,

The start of fall classes is now just two months away, and I am pleased to report that we will reopen the campus for all who are able to join us safely. This semester will differ in many ways from any prior semester at Hamilton, but we look forward to providing the quality of education you expect from Hamilton in ways that protect the health and safety of our campus community and our neighbors in Clinton and the region.

This past weekend, New York State (NYS) released guidance on the reopening of higher education. The best practices detailed in the guidance are already part of Hamilton’s current planning. In keeping with those best practices and direction from public health authorities, the College’s plans for the fall will require significant changes in how we teach, learn, and operate. The purpose of these changes is to minimize the continuing risks posed by COVID-19, while maximizing our ability to provide a rich educational experience.

In the weeks ahead, as we finalize our operating plans, we will try to answer as many of your questions as we can. Following are some highlights that may be helpful to know now. A more detailed Return to Campus Guide for Students will be provided soon.

I. What to Expect When You Return in August

Campus Move-in
To facilitate physical distancing at the start of the semester, we will stagger campus arrival times and assign move-in dates over a period of several days leading up to the first day of classes on Aug. 24. The Dean of Students Office will provide a schedule and additional information. Upon arrival, every student will be tested and will receive a health kit containing face coverings, thermometers, hand sanitizer, and instructions on self-care.

Please note that New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have issued a joint travel advisory mandating that travelers from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days. We do not know whether this requirement will still be in place in August and will communicate further as we assess its potential impact on students arriving from the affected states.

Physical Distancing and Face Coverings
All of us must contribute to fostering a safe and healthy environment. Accordingly, face coverings will be required by everyone in the classroom and other shared spaces. The College will provide each student and employee with two reusable cloth coverings.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that all of us follow public health recommendations on physical distancing and face coverings. For most students, the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is small, but for some members of our community, the risk is much greater. Because COVID-19 may be spread by individuals who are unaware they carry the virus, it is vital that everyone avoid large gatherings, maintain six feet of separation whenever feasible, practice good hygiene, and wear a face covering in public. The Student Code of Conduct will be updated with these and related expectations, and all students will be required to agree to these rules as a condition for coming to and remaining on campus.

COVID-19 Monitoring, Testing, and Tracing
As part of our effort to keep everyone safe, all students and employees will be required to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis and record the results into a mobile app. Self-screening of this kind is mandatory under the NYS higher education guidelines. In addition, and again in compliance with NYS guidance, the College is developing a comprehensive testing plan and will work with the Oneida County Health Department to conduct contact tracing for any suspected or confirmed cases of the virus. Diagnostic (PCR) tests, at no cost to you, will be conducted on campus, and the results will be processed by a certified laboratory. We are evaluating testing protocols for students, employees, and campus visitors, but all students will be screened for COVID-19 on arrival and periodically thereafter. We may also require PCR testing prior to arrival, and will share more information on that as soon as we have finalized our plans.

Under current public health guidelines, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate until cleared by medical personnel. Close contacts of anyone who tests positive must quarantine for 14 days. We have secured appropriate isolation and quarantine spaces for students and will provide food, health monitoring, and other support, and you should be able to continue your studies via remote instruction for most courses.

II. Changes to Academic Life

Fall Calendar
On June 15, I announced Hamilton’s revised academic calendar, with classes beginning on Monday, Aug. 24, a few days earlier than originally planned, and ending on Tuesday, Nov. 24, with exams taken remotely after Thanksgiving. We will not have a fall break. This compressed academic calendar will shorten time on campus by eight days, but will allow us to minimize travel to and from campus.

Students who cannot return home at the conclusion of the semester are encouraged to work with the Office of Residential Life on alternatives. We have not yet made a decision about the spring calendar.

Classes and Class Scheduling
Hamilton prides itself on the close engagement that occurs when faculty and students come together in small classes built around personalized instruction and lively group discussion. We aim to preserve this strength of a Hamilton education, while adapting the classroom experience as necessary to preserve everyone’s health and safety.

The College has asked all faculty to plan for blended learning (where not everyone is in the same room together). Blended learning may take different forms, depending on the course. Faculty will have the choice whether to teach in person, remotely, or in a hybrid manner. We anticipate that a large majority of courses this fall will be delivered in person. The faculty are actively engaged in planning for their fall classes, and we are offering technology training and support. We expect that all classes, however delivered, will reflect the personalized attention and focus on individual learning that characterize a Hamilton education.

We recognize that some of you may need to take classes remotely this semester, and others may need to apply for a leave of absence. As was true this past spring, we will work as best we can to assist students whose circumstances present obstacles to studying on campus in the fall.

We have studied all our academic spaces on campus and will assign classrooms that allow for appropriate physical distancing. Face coverings will be required. For some classes, that may mean using spaces traditionally reserved for other purposes. For other classes, it may mean moving to an A/B schedule, in which half the class attends in person and the other half remotely, on an alternating basis.

To create as much flexibility in class scheduling as possible, we are adding additional class periods on weekday afternoons and evenings. In order to end the semester early, on Nov. 24, it will also be necessary to hold some Saturday classes. There will be a minimum of 20 minutes between class periods to facilitate cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces in classrooms.

III. The Residential Experience

Residential and Co-Curricular Life
As you are already aware, housing selection was delayed this year to allow us to plan for reduced occupancy in residence halls. Under NYS guidance, students sharing a room may be treated as a family unit and will not be required to wear face coverings or physically distance when in their rooms with their roommates. To reduce density, all single-room quads and triples have been converted to doubles, and new modular housing is being installed on the south side of campus to increase capacity. Shared kitchen and lounge spaces may be limited to permit physical distancing, and laundry facilities will be available by reservation only.

Dining halls must follow NYS guidance for restaurants. This will require a reduction in occupancy by as much as 50 percent and the elimination of buffet service. Accordingly, the College is working with Bon Appétit to increase the number of locations for dining and to offer more grab-and-go food options.

We will plan events and activities that comply with physical distancing requirements so you will have co-curricular and social options without having to leave campus. Non-essential College travel is restricted for employees until further notice, and students should also avoid unnecessary off-campus travel in order to limit the risk of exposure to and potential transmission of COVID-19.

Athletics and Extracurriculars
The NCAA has proposed a phased return to sports, with the move from one phase to the next contingent on the absence of a rebound of COVID-19 on a given campus. New York State has just released its own guidance, grouping sports into lower, moderate, and higher-risk categories. We are studying the NCAA and NYS guidance, and we are in conversation with our NESCAC partners about the implications for NESCAC competition. We will do everything feasible to provide appropriate experiences for our student-athletes.

We are also studying the impact of public health guidance on other extracurricular activities. We know how important participation in clubs and other student organizations can be to your experience at Hamilton, so we will work with you to find safe ways to engage in group activities.

Changes to Facilities and Operations
The NYS guidance includes many requirements and recommended best practices involving facilities and operations. The College is already addressing these issues. They include enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols, revised room occupancy limits, signage and pedestrian flow, physical barriers, and industry-recommended enhancements to air handling systems. Many of our staff are on the front lines of implementing these changes and performing these operations, and we are grateful for their professionalism and commitment to the safety and well-being of our community.

***

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as teams of faculty, staff, and students continue to finalize plans for the fall. We will continue posting updates on the College’s Returning to Campus website and will soon publish a more detailed Return to Campus Guide for Students.

The decision to bring all students back to campus was not made lightly. It will require self-discipline and flexibility, as well as respect for and trust in others. It will not be an ordinary semester, and it will not be entirely without risk.

But I have heard from many of you, and I know how important the campus experience is. Many of you have told me how much you miss the campus, your friends, faculty, and mentors, and the sense of purpose that emerges from being part of an intimate, engaged learning community. Our educational model works best when we live and learn together, and we can’t wait to get started again.

In the meantime, we must all stay informed and be prepared to pivot when necessary for the health and safety of our campus community. I hope you can join us for the Q&A session on Wednesday, July 1, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Questions can be submitted in advance or live during the meeting.

Continued best wishes for a safe and healthy summer,

David

Advisory Council, June 23, 2020

Dear Hamilton Community,

Last week I announced that the College would establish a new advisory council to help create a more equitable and inclusive campus community. I am gratified that so many of you have offered to help and want to encourage you to share your suggestions and recommendations with me and members of the council. We must act decisively to ensure that every member of our community feels valued and can thrive. That is a top priority for me and for the College.

The advisory council will begin by listening. Council members will benefit immensely from the perspective of individuals and groups who are willing to share their experiences and contribute ideas. At the same time, please remember that membership on this council is just one way to contribute to the process of change. We hope that you will stay involved by educating yourself and others on the movement against racism and discrimination, and by sharing your time and other resources when called to help.

I am grateful to the Hamiltonians who have agreed to serve on the council, recognizing that as we move forward, the membership of the council will evolve. I hope all members of our community will participate in this important undertaking.

David

Advisory Council Members
Steven Bellona, Mayor, Village of Clinton
Phyllis Breland ’80, Hamilton Director of Opportunity Programs, retired
Josie Collier ’97, P’14, Chair of the Alumni Council and President of the Alumni Association
Mark Fedorcik ’95, Trustee
Todd Franklin, Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies
Gill King P’16, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, ex officio
Maria Genao-Homs, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion
Amari Leigh ’21, Student
Terry Martinez, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President, Dean of Students
Nick Osarenren ’22, Student
Imad Qasim ’79, Trustee
Natalie Sanchez ’07, Chair of the Alumni Equity and Inclusion Committee
Lisa Trivedi, Professor of History
Caleb Williamson ’17, JD
David Wippman, President

Observing Juneteenth, June 19, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the day African Americans enslaved in Texas 155 years ago learned of their freedom. Consistent with my message earlier this week, and in light of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and many others, I encourage all members of our community to reflect on today’s significance and commit to taking action against racism and discrimination whenever and wherever we encounter it.

As outlined in my June 14 message to our community, the College is committed to taking its own actions against racism and discrimination. Next week, I will announce the members of the new Advisory Council that is being formed as part of that commitment. The Council and senior staff will welcome your feedback and ideas for building a community that fully embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton.

David

Revised Academic Calendar for Fall 2020, June 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Over the past several months, we have been working hard to prepare for the fall semester. Our goal is to provide our students with the best possible in-person experience, while protecting the health and safety of all members of our community, on campus and in the Village of Clinton.

We continue to await New York State’s authorization for reopening higher education and guidance on how residential colleges like ours should operate in a world of physical distancing. Once we hear from the state, we can finalize our plans for the fall. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you some of our current thinking, particularly a change in our academic calendar, so that you have as much time as possible to make arrangements for the semester. You can expect to receive additional and much more detailed information in the coming weeks.

Multiple committees are developing plans and making preparations to reopen the campus. Many things will look different this fall, and all members of the community will be asked to accept some level of inconvenience to protect everyone’s safety. We expect, for example, to put in place a multi-layered system to minimize health risks to our community while still retaining as much of the academic and cocurricular experience as possible. That system will include physical distancing, wearing face coverings, diagnostic testing, routine symptom-checking, extensive cleaning and disinfecting of common spaces, and space for isolation and quarantine, should that prove necessary. We will also modify options for housing and dining.

One of the changes we will make involves the academic calendar. Our first day of classes will be Monday, Aug. 24 (previously August 27), although arrival dates and times for new and continuing students will be staggered to increase physical distancing. A revised Orientation for new students will be held Thursday, Aug. 20, through Sunday, Aug. 23. The Hamilton traditions of matriculation and convocation will be preserved, but the format will change, also to allow appropriate physical distancing.

The last day of fall classes will be Tuesday, Nov. 24. Exams will be conducted remotely the week following the Thanksgiving holiday. International and U.S. students who feel they need to remain on campus will be invited to make a formal request closer to the end of the semester.

This compressed calendar will require that some classes be held on Saturdays and some on weekday evenings. The Academic Continuity Advisory Group has been working hard on developing resources to support both hybrid (i.e., a combination of in-person and asynchronous instruction) and blended (i.e., some people are present while others are engaged remotely) teaching to support physical distancing and to prepare for a change in plans if necessary due to a resurgence of COVID-19. It was a difficult but necessary decision to eliminate fall break. On-campus activities designed to adhere to physical-distancing requirements will be emphasized to encourage students to maximize their time on campus and minimize travel in order to keep our community safe.

Based on the information currently available to us, the modified fall calendar we are adopting is the most responsible and best option for preserving the integrity and richness of a Hamilton education – and doing so safely – in light of the complexities we face. It allows us to open in the fall with minimal disruption to the initial calendar and complete in-person instruction before the flu season fully overlaps with the continuing challenge of COVID-19.

We will provide much greater detail on our plans in a few weeks, with the understanding that the course of the pandemic may force major changes at any point. With that in mind, we are continuing to make contingency plans for a range of possibilities, including a return to remote instruction.

I appreciate your patience as we sort through the remaining issues. We will send out soon an invitation to a virtual town hall, where we will invite questions on fall plans.

David

Hamilton’s Commitment to Racial Justice and Plans for Action, June 14, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Since my statement on May 30, I have heard your reactions to recent community posts. I have also heard your demands for the College to do more. I want to express my deep regret for the pain inflicted on an already hurting community. My initial communication and the two posts did not state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, contained language many found insufficient or confusing and, most importantly, did not identify any action steps. I know that Hamilton must do better – and we will.

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks have highlighted yet again the nature and extent of systemic racism in our country. We know that these events have caused enormous pain, particularly for members of the Black community, and for the Black members of our community. We stand in solidarity with them, because Black Lives Matter.

We commit to developing collectively a comprehensive plan of action, beginning with the following three steps.

  1. Host listening sessions and form an Advisory Council to hold us accountable. Listening sessions with members of Student Assembly, the Black and Latinx Student Union, the ALANA Caucus (a group of faculty and staff of color), and alumni representatives, including members of the Equity and Inclusion Committee of Alumni Council, will enable us to engage collectively in a dialogue about the path forward. I will also form an Advisory Council, starting next week, to establish a formal feedback loop on an ongoing basis. We will begin with listening and follow with informed planning and urgent action. You have this commitment from me, from senior leadership, and from the Board of Trustees.
  2. Expedite a new equity and inclusion plan. Last summer we began a strategic planning process to enhance our equity and inclusion efforts and identified a set of institutional goals. We have made progress, but must do more. With input from the Advisory Council and others, we will build on those goals and publicly track our progress.
  3. Increase resources. From my discretionary fund, I am committing $200,000 per year for the next five years to increase funding of the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives, with a focus on how we can support Black and Latinx members of our community. The initiatives may include but will not be limited to expanded microaggression and implicit bias training for community members, additional resources for the development of inclusive pedagogies, and additional funding for the recruitment and retention of faculty, students, and staff of color.

In addition to this commitment of funds, a generous friend of the College has stepped forward to offer a $250,000 match for gifts made by June 30 that are directed to the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives or in support of scholarship aid through the Hamilton Fund. Gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar until we reach the $250,000 maximum.

The actions outlined above are initial steps, but we will develop a more complete action plan in the months ahead, and we will report back to the community on our progress in September. I am grateful to everyone who has spoken up with conviction, and believe that together we can make real progress toward a fully inclusive Hamilton.

Most sincerely,

David

Condemning Racism and Inequality, May 30, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

In recent days, I have watched with grief and dismay the news from my hometown, Minneapolis. Despite its progressive history and the civil rights advocacy of leaders like former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, Minneapolis has continued to be plagued by racism and police violence. The video of George Floyd’s death is shocking, but, alas, also unsurprising, given the country’s failure to address systemic racism and inequality.

This failure has been vividly displayed in recent months, in a string of racially charged incidents. The ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has so disproportionately affected communities of color has also demonstrated the persistence and far-reaching nature of racial inequality in the United States.

Hamilton is not immune from the toxic effects of racism in America, and we have seen recent reminders of that in bigoted posts on the anonymous Jodel platform. While far different in degree from the events in Minneapolis and elsewhere, these posts violate the basic norms of decency and inclusion we seek to promote at Hamilton.

The pain of recent events falls disproportionately on some members of our community, and that is yet another legacy of inequality in our society. But it is incumbent on all of us to work toward creating more just, inclusive, and supportive communities, at Hamilton and in the broader society.

I hope you will all join me in condemning racism whenever you see it and share in the work needed to foster meaningful change.

David

Planning for the Fall, May 21, 2020

On Sunday, we will celebrate our seniors’ successful completion of their Hamilton education. We take great pride in their accomplishments and in the strength and resilience they and all members of our community have shown in managing the challenges of a semester unlike any other.

If we have learned anything these past few months, it is just how much our students love being on campus. Students, we know you are eager to return, and we are just as eager to bring you back. And we can’t wait to welcome the Class of 2024 to College Hill.

We are still waiting for the green light from New York state officials, but our goal is to welcome all of you to campus this fall. We probably won’t have all the answers we need to finalize our plans for several weeks or more, but I want you to know how we are thinking about the decisions ahead.

Student Health and Safety
Keeping everyone safe remains our top priority. I hope you are already following the physical distancing and other advice of government officials and health professionals. We are daily incorporating emerging best practices into our reopening plans. Among the possibilities we are considering for the fall are regular health screenings, periodic diagnostic testing, carefully tailored physical distancing rules, and new health education programming. We have identified space on and off campus for isolation and quarantine purposes if needed. The rigorous cleaning and disinfectant protocols that Facilities Management instituted so effectively earlier this year will become standard practice in the future, so part of our planning includes ensuring we have adequate supplies of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, personal protection equipment, and other cleaning materials. Face coverings are likely to become a regular feature of campus attire.

Academic Life
We pride ourselves on delivering a rigorous, personalized, transformative education, and we want this fall to be no exception. We are actively studying how best to do that in a world in which we are all advised to stay six feet apart. One consequence may be fewer people at any given time in classrooms, labs, studios, the library, and other spaces. We are examining every classroom to determine its capacity and exploring options from a revised class schedule to transforming large gathering spaces into temporary classrooms.

All faculty members have been asked to prepare their courses for some form of hybrid or blended learning, in which some students are physically present and others join remotely. We think this approach offers the greatest flexibility. It enables us to meet the needs of students who cannot attend class in person, and prepares us for the possibility that we might have to return to remote instruction should a pandemic second wave occur.

Residential Life
Earlier this week, Terry Martinez announced that new student orientation is being modified in ways that we hope will preserve the richness of the orientation experience but still ensure student safety. We are also working on ways to meet physical distancing guidelines in the dining halls, residence halls, common areas, and study spaces throughout campus. The goal is to preserve the special and serendipitous learning and interaction that residential colleges foster so successfully, while doing everything we can to protect student health and safety. As part of this effort, we are building some modular housing units this summer, giving us greater flexibility in managing physical distancing requirements.

Extracurricular Activities and Athletics
I recognize that, for many of our students, the full breadth of a Hamilton education includes participating in student clubs, organizations, athletics, and the broad range of other programs that make for such a rich cocurricular and extracurricular experience. The impact of physical distancing requirements will, of course, vary depending on the activity. Intercollegiate athletics, in particular, involves a shared approach with other colleges, especially our NESCAC peers. Our Athletics Director, Jon Hind ’80, is chairing a committee of his NESCAC counterparts working on a plan for varsity sports in the fall. We will share more information on plans for athletics when Jon’s committee completes its work.

Moving Forward
We are doing everything we can to prepare for an on-time, in-person start, but our decisions must ultimately be guided by the advice of health professionals and directives from state and other public officials. Equally important, all members of our community will need to do their part. We can demonstrate the concern we have for one another by following the guidelines set forth by our colleagues on campus, public health authorities, and government officials.

Thank You
Over the past two months—has it really been only two months?—our students, faculty, and staff have met every challenge with ingenuity, resilience, and flexibility. That gives me confidence Hamilton will be ready for whatever the future brings. We talk often about this College as a place where people care deeply about one another. Never has that extraordinary sense of community been clearer to me than it is today. I know I can rely on the continued cooperation of everyone, on campus and off, to return Hamilton to being fully Hamilton.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy summer,

David

Title IX Revisions Issued by the Department of Education, May 7, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education issued updated Title IX regulations, set to take effect on August 14, 2020. The regulations and accompanying Department guidance are lengthy — over 2,000 pages — and will require careful review. Hamilton remains committed to ensuring that Title IX complaints are handled as fairly, sensitively, and expeditiously as possible.

The College will study the new regulations carefully to determine what changes to our policies and procedures may be required. We will find an opportunity in the coming weeks to hold a virtual forum to discuss some of the changes that may be necessary.

Sincerely,

David

Virtual Commencement Ceremony, April 30, 2020

Dear Members of the Class of 2020,

For more than two centuries, Hamilton’s Commencement has been one of the most meaningful and significant traditions in the life of our College. Despite the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves, that longstanding ritual will continue. I am writing on behalf of the Board of Trustees, our esteemed faculty, and the valued members of our staff to invite you and members of your family to join us online on Sunday, May 24, at 10:30 a.m. ET to celebrate your graduation from Hamilton College.

We will, as I promised earlier, gather in person at a later date, but we must not let this moment pass without acknowledging the recognition you have earned. Please join us at the Hamilton YouTube channel, and please share memories and upload photos to social media using #hamilton2020 in the days leading up to Commencement and during the ceremony itself.

I look forward to formally conferring your Hamilton degree on May 24.

David

Financial Planning Update, April 27, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We have entered a new phase in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past six weeks, most of our efforts have centered on responding to the emergency immediately before us. With all the energy, talent, and dedication we have come to expect from our community, we shuttered our campus, moved to remote instruction, shifted our student support services and engagement activities online, reinvented our admission and fundraising processes, and answered countless queries from all corners of our community.

Now we must focus on the months ahead. It is too early to predict with any confidence what the fall will bring, but we must plan for a wide range of possible outcomes, from an on-time, on-campus start to a semester or more of remote instruction. Those different scenarios pose starkly different challenges for the delivery of our academic program, and we will find opportunities to discuss with you in the days ahead some possible approaches to those challenges.

For the moment, we write to address the possible financial consequences of different scenarios. We entered this crisis in a strong position, with healthy reserves, a substantial endowment, and a supportive board and alumni body. As a result, we have so far been able to avoid some of the austerity measures implemented at many other colleges.

As noted in my April 2 message to the community, however, we may face a possible perfect storm if we cannot resume on-campus instruction in the fall. Unlike 2008, when enrollment and tuition revenues were stable even though endowment draws and fundraising were dropping, this fall could see significant declines in all three of our primary revenue streams.

In the best-case scenario — on-campus instruction with full enrollment in the fall — we can anticipate a significant but manageable financial challenge, driven by transition costs incurred this spring, an expected increase in financial aid costs, and expected decreases in endowment payouts and philanthropic support. That is why we are already cutting non-essential expenditures, carefully managing the FY20 budget as we near the end of the fiscal year, and studying the financial impact of different scenarios by varying our assumptions about enrollment, tuition, endowment draws, fundraising, and expenses.

If we cannot resume instruction on campus this fall, we will have to consider some of the measures already taken elsewhere, including furloughs and layoffs, additional spending cuts, salary reductions, and suspending contributions to employee retirement plans. We recognize the burden such measures would impose on Hamilton’s employees. In a struggling economy, cutting employment should and would be a measure of last resort.

At this point, we do not see a need for such measures. Accordingly, the College will continue paying all benefits-eligible employees according to their normal schedule through the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

As we approach that date, we should be in a much better position to assess the likely impact of the pandemic on College operations and to determine what further spending reductions, if any, may be required. One step we think will probably prove necessary is a suspension of most pay increases for the coming academic year. We will make a decision on that option in the next few weeks.

Even as we contemplate the future, most of our traditional responsibilities continue — remotely for most and on campus for a few employees performing essential functions. We are grateful to all of you, especially those who are putting in hours far beyond what you would normally work. We know everyone is as eager to return to campus as we are to have you back.

New York State has indicated that its PAUSE mandate will continue at least until May 15. Thereafter, we expect a phased approach to resuming business operations. Since it seems likely some social distancing measures will continue well beyond May, the College has reluctantly canceled most summer programs, including our summer picnics.

We know this remains a time of great uncertainty and that many of you have questions for us. We hope you can join us tomorrow for the staff town hall at 9 a.m. and the faculty town hall at 4:10 p.m. We look forward to seeing you then, if only virtually, and to sharing further information with you. We welcome your questions, and we will do our best to answer them. If you are unable to join the live events, please feel free to email us or any member of senior staff with your questions.

David Wippman and Karen Leach

Planning for the Fall Semester, April 25, 2020

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty, and Staff,

As the weather warms and the semester nears its end, all of us are starting to feel keenly the constraints of life in the shadow of a pandemic. Many of you have written to ask whether we can resume on-campus instruction this fall. The short answer is that it is too soon to know.

We are a community that thrives on face-to-face interaction. With that in mind, we are working hard to prepare for an on-time, on-campus start in August. If we can do that safely, we will.

Unfortunately, no one can be certain what things will look like four months from now. We hope, of course, that the pandemic will abate, that testing, tracing, and treatments will improve, that social distancing restrictions will be relaxed, and that we can resume normal operations in the fall. However, we must also consider and plan for other scenarios, including the possibility that some or all of the semester must be delivered through remote instruction.

Virtually all colleges and universities are going through a similar planning process. Ultimately, our decisions will turn on public health guidance and government directives, with the health and safety of our community the number one consideration.

We will know much more in a few months. I understand that waiting may heighten the uncertainty and anxiety all of us feel, but that is the price we must pay to ensure the best possible outcome in what is surely not the best of all possible worlds.

At the town halls later this week, we will address questions you may have about the options we are considering and the factors that will influence our decisions. I look forward to speaking with you then.

David

Campus Update and Town Hall Meetings, April 21, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

A little over a month ago, I announced that we would transition to remote instruction. I am grateful to all of you for the speed, skill, and care with which you have adapted to this extraordinary shift in our work. Four primary goals have guided our response over these past few weeks: protect the health and safety of our employees and the students who remain on campus; prepare and deliver remote instruction to enable seniors to graduate on time and all other students to make appropriate progress toward their degree; preserve our facilities and grounds; and bring in next-year’s first-year class.

Now we are transitioning from that initial, emergency-response phase to a new phase focused on successful completion of this semester and contingency planning for this summer and fall. Last week, we informed students intending to study in New York City this fall that the program has been suspended due to low enrollment, concerns about securing internships, and uncertainty about when the city would resume normal operations. We are continuing to evaluate the status of Hamilton’s fall programs in Washington, D.C., France, Spain, and China, and will provide updates as soon as they are available.

Several decisions have been made about summer activity on campus. We reported earlier that student summer research can continue, but only if it is conducted remotely and does not involve travel. Students who received approval to do research this summer should check with their supervisor to determine whether their project can move forward. Similarly, at this time, we do not anticipate hiring any student workers for the summer unless their job responsibilities are deemed essential.

We hope, of course, to be able to resume normal operations at the start of the 2020-21 academic year in August, but senior staff and several ad hoc committees are developing contingency plans for alternate scenarios. Hamilton’s planning continues to be guided by the direction we receive from public health authorities and government officials. As you know, for example, last week Governor Cuomo extended social distancing requirements through May 15. Relaxation of those requirements will help determine when we might move from Minimal Operating Status back to modified or normal operating status.

We will not know the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Hamilton’s current and future operating budgets for some time, but we were pleased to learn recently that the College is eligible for about $1.2 million in student emergency support funds under the CARES act. The first half of any funding received under this legislation must be used for “direct payment of grants to students for their expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care.” Hamilton will use any funds it receives under the first tranche of CARES Act funding to augment support the College is already providing to students with need. The College is awaiting DOE guidance on how the second half of the funding should be used.

As our planning evolves, we will continue to provide regular updates. We recognize, however, that many members of our community still have questions, so we are scheduling a series of online town hall gatherings for students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and prospective students; the meetings for faculty and staff will take place next week. You will receive a Zoom invitation soon.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our students and for Hamilton.

David

Financial Update, April 2, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In her message to the faculty on Monday, Suzanne Keen noted that we are all in the same boat, or in any event, the same flotilla, rowing for shore together. Seldom have we rowed harder — or better. In just a few weeks, we have helped students return home, sometimes under the most challenging of circumstances; adapted courses designed for small, face-to-face classes to the unfamiliar world of remote instruction; ramped up technology support; cared for the students who remain on campus; reinvented how we recruit new students; found new ways to stay engaged with our alumni; and sorted out how to maintain our facilities and grounds with just a handful of staff working on campus. We have done all that, and more, and we have done it with the dedication, creativity, and single-minded focus on the welfare of our students that make Hamilton such a special place. For that, all of you have my deepest appreciation.

While we can look with pride on all that has already been accomplished, we must also look unflinchingly at what lies ahead.

As you know, we have three major sources of revenue: tuition, income earned from the endowment, and fundraising. All of them are under strain. Given the uncertainties around the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all colleges and universities are worried about fall enrollments. Even if those concerns prove unfounded, we expect financial aid expenditures to rise sharply. We are already hearing from anxious families facing job losses and dwindling assets. At the same time, plunging markets have driven down the value of our endowment, and prospective donors are experiencing their own financial challenges.

Whether these factors coalesce into a perfect storm or something far more modest depends on the course of the pandemic — how bad it gets and how long it lasts. We are modeling a range of scenarios and developing the appropriate contingency plans. Fortunately, Hamilton is better positioned than most to face whatever comes, as a result of careful budgeting, skilled investment management, and generous support from alumni and other donors.

Even in the best-case scenario, however, we know we must reduce spending on anything that is not essential to the support of our students and the fulfillment of our academic mission. That effort is already under way. As Karen Leach noted in an earlier message to our community, we are, with very limited exceptions, not filling open positions, pausing non-critical capital projects, and directing each division to identify other ways to save money. For the most part, our peers are doing the same, and some have announced salary freezes and other austerity measures.

When we moved to Reduced Operating Status on March 16, we announced a set of Interim Human Resource Policies to apply through April 12. We will continue those policies at least through the end of May.

Eventually, we will reach port. When we do, I hope, to paraphrase one of our trustees, that we can look back and say that we traveled a path of hardship and uncertainty together and came out the other side bonded by the journey and stronger than ever.

I know this will leave you with many questions. I will do my best to answer them at the faculty and staff assembly meetings next week and in regular communications as things evolve.

For now, thank you for all the extraordinary work you are doing in this extraordinary moment.

David

COVID-19 Case Confirmed, March 29, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Today the College was informed that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. We are working with the Oneida County Health Department per its guidelines to trace the individual’s contacts with any faculty, staff, or students. Fortunately, those contacts were very limited, and we have already reached out directly to anyone who falls into the close contact category. In addition, Facilities Management, guided by OSHA standards, has been conducting enhanced cleaning protocols in all facilities that could be affected, and will continue to follow those standards.

For privacy reasons, we cannot share the identity or other information about the individual who has contracted the virus. I know, however, that all of you join me in wishing our colleague a speedy recovery.

This is the first known case of COVID-19 at Hamilton, and I recognize that this news will cause concern. I assure you that we are taking the necessary steps to mitigate the risks to our community and will do so for any future confirmed cases on campus. The College’s move to Minimal Operating Status, with nearly all faculty and staff working from home, facilitates these efforts.

Hamilton has been preparing for the likelihood that this global health crisis would eventually make its way to our campus. The Hamilton Emergency Response Team (HERT) was activated in late January and we subsequently formed a COVID-19 Task Force. The Task Force meets daily (via Zoom) to address priorities and plan future responses and recovery. You can find the latest information about how the College is responding to COVID-19 and future public health updates on our dedicated website.

As remote as we sometimes feel ourselves to be on the Hill, we are part of the broader community and share in its benefits and burdens. There are at least 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oneida County, and New York State has become an epicenter of the pandemic. We can all do our part by continuing to practice social distancing and offering those afflicted with the virus whatever support we can.

Please continue to care for yourselves and your families and know that we will work through this together.

David

Update From A Too-Quiet Campus, March 25, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this note finds you safe, healthy, and enjoying time with your families. Next week classes resume, though not in the way any of us expected a few weeks ago. Our world has been turned upside down, and none of us knows exactly how long the crisis will last.

Fortunately, Hamilton is an adaptable, creative, and caring community. Whatever challenges arise in the weeks and months ahead, we will meet them head on—and well.

It won’t be the first time.

In 1917, for example, as chronicled in Maurice Isserman’s wonderful history of the College, On the Hill, Hamilton students were caught up in the tumult of World War I. Of the 46 seniors in the graduating class that year, 37 served in the war. Many students from other classes left school to enlist in the armed forces as well. Most of the students who remained on campus enrolled in the Student Army Training Corps, lived in South and Carnegie, and took courses on military tactics and strategy. As the war ended and Americans looked forward to resuming their lives, the “Spanish flu” of 1918-19 struck, killing at least 50 million people worldwide. At Hamilton, so many students fell ill that Carnegie was converted into an infirmary.

The College has weathered many other crises, from the Great Depression, to World War II, to the Great Recession of 2008. In each case, we have emerged stronger. The current pandemic will be no exception.

As I write this, I am looking at a campus that is all too quiet—and blanketed with snow! Only 55 students, who cannot go home, remain. We are doing what we can to keep them engaged, safe, and well.

In accordance with Governor Cuomo’s recent executive order, almost all faculty and staff are working remotely. But the College is still operating, and faculty are sharing online teaching tips, trying out virtual platforms, and finding creative ways to continue teaching and advising in a world gone Zoom.

We are also exploring ways to connect you with your fellow students and the College, outside the virtual classroom. Ideas under consideration include virtual Student Assembly meetings, concerts, and service opportunities. Suggestions, of course, are welcome.

Since admitted students can’t visit the campus this spring, Monica Inzer and her colleagues in Siuda House have organized a series of YouTube live events, virtual experiences, panel discussions, and opportunities to meet current students. By all indications, a wonderful new class will join us in the fall.

For me, August can’t come soon enough. As I walk the campus (staying six feet away from others, sadly, is no longer an issue), I am struck as always by its beauty. But I am so eager for it to fill again with laughter, excitement, and energy.

Seniors, I know you are waiting for word about Commencement. Many of our peers have already announced postponements. We continue to monitor public health developments closely and will make a decision soon. We know how much Commencement means to you and to your families, especially in a year that has robbed you of the joy of senior spring. Whatever happens, you have my promise: we will bring you back to the Hill to celebrate your achievements with the pomp and circumstance your time at Hamilton deserves.

Until we can see each other again, please stay safe and trust that this too shall pass.

David

Remote Learning Extended for the Remainder of the Semester, March 17, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I know many of you have been wondering whether we will be able to resume in-person classes at some point this spring. As much as we all wish this were possible, it appears increasingly likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to escalate in ways that make resumption of classes on campus untenable. Therefore, I have made the heartbreaking decision that Hamilton will continue remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester.

I know full well how enormously disappointing this must be for our students, and especially our seniors. I have heard from so many of you, urging the College to preserve even the slightest possibility of finishing the academic year here on campus. I have heard from students in the performing arts, whose year-long senior thesis efforts cannot be fully realized. I have heard from athletes, whose final season of competition ended so abruptly. I have heard from parents, desperate to see their student have a chance at all the culminating events of the senior year, the capstone of so many years of study. I have heard from students who feel lost and adrift, who have come to depend on the community they have found on the Hill, and who want more than anything to spend even a few more weeks with their friends and the teachers and mentors they have found here.

Moving to Remote Instruction
For all these reasons and more, I have been reluctant to move the College to remote instruction for the rest of the semester. But I have also been tracking the guidance from public officials and infectious disease experts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged event organizers to cancel large gatherings for the next eight weeks, which would take us close to the end of the academic term. The White House last night also released new guidelines, urging all Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. New York State, in concert with Connecticut and New Jersey, has adopted its own guidelines, banning crowds over 50, limiting restaurants to take out and delivery only, and mandating that campus dining halls and gyms shut down. Although most of these guidelines are open-ended — they are to remain in effect “for as long as necessary to protect public health” — they reflect the depth of the challenge we all face.

There is still no known case of COVID-19 on campus, but earlier today, the county executive reported the first confirmed case in Oneida County.

Even if instances of infection begin to abate as the weather warms, it seems unlikely that we can safely resume normal operations any time soon. Even a single case on campus would force us to isolate not just the individual affected, but all those with whom that individual was in close contact. That would overtax our limited quarantine capacity and put other members of our community at risk.

Packing up
I know most of our students still have many of their belongings on campus, and that the timing of this decision, coming so soon after most students departed for spring break, will significantly inconvenience many. For that I apologize.

For those who wish to return to campus to collect their things, we will try to work out an opportunity to do so, consistent with public health guidelines. For everyone else, we will make arrangements with you to have your belongings stored or shipped home. We will also work out soon the best way to process prorated adjustments for the unused portion of students’ room and board charges. Please give us some time to sort out the specifics. As soon as we have, we will share that information with you.

Few decisions have been more heartbreaking for me to make, precisely because I know how painful this decision will be for our students and their families. I wish there were another way.

Commencement 2020
We have not made a final decision about Commencement. Whatever happens, we will find a way to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2020. Seniors, I would love nothing more than to welcome you and your families back to campus and to present your diplomas in person. Please bear with us as we continue to think this through.

Facing the future together
COVID-19 presents a challenge unlike any I have seen in my nearly 30 years in higher education. But it is a challenge we will surmount together. Hamilton is defined not by its beautiful campus nor its extraordinary facilities, but by the people who make up our community. Let’s have faith in each other to meet whatever comes next.

David

COVID-19 Task Force, March 16, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I want once more to thank everyone across campus who so quickly and compassionately helped our students adjust their plans for spring break and begin to prepare for distance learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended all our lives in extraordinary ways, but our community has responded with great care, dedication, and thoughtfulness despite the uncertainty we all feel.

Over the weekend, the College’s senior staff and HERT turned our attention to how we can best modify operations in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community. Four primary goals will guide our near-term response: 

  • Protect the health and safety of our employees and the students remaining on campus
  • Prepare and deliver remote education to enable seniors to graduate and all other students to make appropriate progress towards their degree
  • Preserve facilities and grounds
  • Bring in next year’s first-year class

HERT has demonstrated exceptional leadership over the past several weeks, and I would like to recognize Jeff Landry, in particular, for guiding the response team through a series of critical decisions to get us to this juncture. HERT will continue to play an important role in addressing the wide range of issues raised by the College’s response to the pandemic.

However, moving the College through the remaining phases of this global health crisis will require a smaller, more streamlined decision-making structure. I have therefore appointed a COVID-19 Task Force to take the lead on our pandemic planning and implementation. The Task Force will be chaired by Vice President for Administration and Finance Karen Leach. Other members include Barb Fluty (health center), Jeff Landry (student life/HERT), Tara McKee (academic affairs), Melissa Richards (communications), Joe Shelley (LITS), Steve Stemkoski (human resources), and Roger Wakeman (facilities management). The Task Force will report to me and I will meet with it regularly.

You will hear shortly from Karen about new guidelines for College operations in the coming weeks. Thank you for your flexibility and patience. Please continue to take care of yourselves and one another.

David

Spring Break, March 13, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

It is perhaps fitting that we prepare to start a Spring Break unlike any other on a rainy Friday the 13th. Yet despite all the turmoil and disappointment, I am heartened by what I have seen from our campus these past few days. Yesterday I met with Staff Assembly, Student Assembly, and the faculty. I have also had many individual conversations with students, employees, parents, and alumni.

This is what I am hearing.

Sadness is universal; many are in tears. Seniors especially are struggling to reconcile the current reality with the hopes they held for a joyous final spring on campus. Our students love this College, and they regret every moment they can’t be here.

Uncertainty is everywhere. People worry about their friends and loved ones, especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Students wonder when they will see each other again, what sort of education the College can provide online, and what this all means for their future. International students wonder whether they can go home and, if they do, whether they can return.

The constant drumbeat of negative news—travel restrictions, plunging markets, business closures—heightens the anxiety that all of us feel.

But I am hearing something else as well.

Across the campus, students, faculty, and staff are rising to the challenge. Students are reaching out to support each other, in ways large and small. In the dining hall this morning, three students told me they eat breakfast together every day—and they will continue to do so by FaceTime after they go home.

Faculty have shifted full time into problem-solving mode. They are sharing ideas for distance learning, talking to experts about instructional design and the technology for remote instruction, and focusing above all on the answer to one question: how can we best support our students?

Staff have responded magnificently. They are working round the clock to prepare the College to operate in an unfamiliar and rapidly changing environment, tackling student life challenges, technology issues, communications overload, and financial strains. And amidst all of this, we are working on bringing the next class of wonderful students to a campus many will not be able to visit this spring.

None of this surprises me. I know our community—its strength, creativity, dedication, and resilience. We will work through this together.

I know many questions remain. We will do our best to provide answers as quickly as we can. Please watch our dedicated webpage for the latest updates.

I have always been proud to be part of this community, but never more so than today.

David

Hamilton’s Response to COVID-19, March 12, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents,

As I noted in my message to our community yesterday, it might prove necessary to adjust our plans on short notice. I’m afraid I didn’t anticipate just how short. It is with enormous regret that I must inform you we will be shifting temporarily to online education immediately following spring break.

Specifically, remote instruction will begin Monday, March 30, and continue for at least two weeks. As we near mid-April, we will reassess whether it is possible to resume normal operations safely for the remainder of the semester.

We will be asking all students to return home this coming week. We understand that for some students, this may not be feasible, for a variety of reasons. The Dean of Students Office will work with those who may need to remain on campus or need other assistance. This message will be followed soon by more detailed information about the timeline for leaving residence halls and related issues.

I make this decision with great reluctance. I understand how precious the Hamilton residential experience is, and how much of the social, extracurricular, and cocurricular experience will be lost by moving to remote instruction. I have spoken with many of our students, especially our seniors, and I know how saddened they will be at the prospect of losing a substantial portion of their remaining time on campus.

Unfortunately, developments over the last 24 hours make this the only safe and responsible option. Those developments include:

  • The World Health Organization declared that coronavirus has reached pandemic status.
  • Several additional states have declared a state of emergency.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, noted in testimony yesterday that the worst is yet to come. 
  • New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, indicated yesterday that he expects cases in New York to skyrocket and directed SUNY and CUNY schools to shift to online education.
  • President Trump decided to restrict travel from Europe for 30 days.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a Level 3 warning (avoid nonessential travel) for most of Europe, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the specified countries.
  • A student in Hamilton’s program in Washington has been in contact with a coworker at the student’s internship placement who has tested positive for COVID-19. All of the students and the program director are in voluntary self-isolation, pending direction from the D.C. public health authorities.

In addition to moving to remote instruction for at least part of the semester, we will also shortly restrict gatherings to fewer than 50 people, restrict visitors to campus, ban all College-funded international travel, and prohibit all nonessential business travel by College employees.

We are taking these measures for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, we want to protect the health and safety of our students and the rest of our community. While students are generally among those least likely to experience serious effects from COVID-19, almost 20 percent of our community includes individuals who fall into one of the higher risk categories, including older individuals and those with significant underlying health issues.

Second, despite all our contingency planning, we face significant limitations in terms of our ability to manage an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus. Our quarantine space is limited and medical services in the region have inherent limitations.

Third, we want to maximize the chance that we can continue in-person classes at some later point in the semester. By taking steps to limit the possibility of COVID-19 appearing on our campus now, we may be better positioned to resume normal operations should the outbreak start to diminish with the arrival of warmer weather.

I know this decision will prove heartbreaking for many of our students, especially our seniors. Understandably, many are concerned about disrupted academic work, lost performance opportunities, missed campus activities, and most of all time with their friends. Believe me, I would not make this decision if I felt there was any other choice.

The rapidly changing situation and the imposition of travel restrictions from Europe pose extraordinary challenges for our students studying abroad. We will do everything possible to assist these students, to bring them safely home, and to ensure they can complete their academic work. We will send shortly a more detailed communication to our study abroad students. Because so many are enrolled in programs sponsored by a wide range of third-party providers, much of the guidance we provide may be specific to those individual programs.

For faculty, this decision will also impose significant burdens. We will do everything we can to assist you in preparing for online instruction. We recognize this is a profound change and we know our faculty will want to make the experience as positive as they can for our students. Our faculty are deeply committed to student learning, and I know they will rise to this challenge. We will provide more detailed guidance to faculty soon.

Staff will also face difficult challenges. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, as we support our students and faculty in the transition to online instruction after the break. We will do all we reasonably can to support staff throughout this period.

I know this email will leave many of you with lots of questions. We will be following up with additional information soon, so please bear with us. I felt it important to communicate the key decisions now, before having in hand all the answers to questions that will inevitably arise.

None of us wanted the semester to go this way. But I know our community, I know its strength and the resilience of our students, faculty, and staff, and I know that collectively we will make this work.

David

Hamilton's Response to COVID-19, March 11, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I know many of you are concerned about the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have on our campus, the broader community, and the lives of our students, faculty, staff, and families. I share those concerns.

Our primary focus right now is to protect your health and wellbeing, but we also wish to do everything feasible to enable you to continue your studies with as little disruption as possible.

Many of our peers have announced plans to cancel in person classes and shift to distance learning for part or all of the remainder of the spring semester. They have also imposed stringent constraints on travel and campus gatherings. Others are continuing normal operations.

Even though we share many of the same concerns as other colleges, each institution must make its own decisions based on its proximity to areas where the coronavirus has been confirmed and the institution’s ability to serve its students. At present, Hamilton plans to continue normal operations, although we recognize that the situation is unpredictable and we may need to adjust our plans on short notice.

We have considered carefully a wide range of options, from canceling spring break and shortening the semester to an immediate move to distance learning. Each of those options has some potential advantages, but each would also prove seriously disruptive for many members of our community.

For now, we intend to proceed with spring break as planned, while urging everyone to exercise caution in their travels and to follow CDC and other public health authority guidance. We will also continue to welcome visitors to campus. But the situation is evolving rapidly, and guidance from public health authorities may change. As we near the end of spring break, we will be in a position to make a more informed decision about whether to resume classes as scheduled or to shift to distance learning for part of the semester.

I recognize, of course, that this requires all of us to live with a considerable degree of uncertainty. Because of the possibility that we might have to provide remote instruction for some period, students who choose to leave campus for the break should take with them whatever academic materials, medications, and valuables they might need to complete the semester.

We will also use the break to work with faculty to assist them in preparing to move classes online should that prove necessary. Dean of Faculty Suzanne Keen and Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology Joe Shelley have already communicated with faculty about some of the tools and support available to them. We recognize that if we have to move in this direction, it will impose a major burden on both faculty and students, and we will do everything we can to minimize that burden.

We know that the operational challenges posed by the coronavirus also place an additional burden on our extraordinary and dedicated staff, who do so much to create the environment that makes Hamilton such a special place. The College remains open and we expect that will continue to be the case even if we do shift to remote instruction for some period, but we will seek to be as flexible as we can in assisting staff in the event the work environment changes.

I want to emphasize that we have not made a decision to cancel classes, even for a limited period, and we hope that doing so will not prove necessary. In the meantime, we will continue our contingency planning.

In that regard, I want to thank the Hamilton Emergency Response Team (HERT), which is taking the lead on day to day planning, and has informed the discussions and decisions of the senior staff. My senior staff colleagues and I are meeting daily, monitoring guidance provided by HERT and federal, state, and local officials, and making decisions with the health and safety of our community foremost in our minds. You can expect regular updates from HERT on the state of our plans.

I extend a special thank you to our colleagues in the Health Center, Facilities Management, Bon Appetit and others who have put in long hours and focused much of their work during the past several weeks on keeping all of us safe.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe, and healthy spring break.

David

Reports of Racist Incidents, March 6, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

We have received reports of three incidents that appear to be racist in nature. They include a post in a residence hall, a comment on an anonymous online app, and a remark made at a party. Each incident is being investigated.

Hamilton College is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment. Racism or any other form of bigotry directly contradicts our values as a community and the principles that we pledge to uphold, and will not be tolerated. Such incidents on campus impose particular burdens on faculty, students, and staff of color who must deal with assaults on their dignity and at the same time may be called upon disproportionately to support other members of the community.

I call upon each of us to stand up against intolerance and to think deeply about how we can play a role in creating an environment where all are valued and feel welcome.

David

Diversity and Inclusion at Hamilton, January 29, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Hamilton’s senior staff met last summer to review the College’s diversity and inclusion efforts. We acknowledged the previous work done by many at the College, including the faculty hiring processes developed with Romney Associates. We also agreed that the importance of the work ahead requires renewed attention at the highest levels of the College. In her role as chief diversity officer, Vice President and Dean of Students Terry Martinez facilitated our discussion about how we can support Hamilton’s overarching diversity goals, which include:

  • Increasing recruitment of historically underrepresented faculty, staff, and students
  • Increasing retention of historically underrepresented faculty, staff, and students
  • Fostering an inclusive climate
  • Developing culturally competent faculty, staff, and students

Each vice president submitted plans for advancing these goals within their divisions. I am encouraged by each division’s efforts and am writing to share broad-based themes emerging from the progress made thus far. We are developing a website that will detail the work happening in each area and hope to have that in place by the end of the semester.

  • Recruiting individuals from historically underrepresented communities remains a central focus in each of the College’s divisions. Enhanced outreach to targeted markets plays a key role in diversifying our pool.
  • Increased training to guard against implicit bias (in interviewing, programming, teaching, and daily interactions) continues to develop and grow within each division
  • Reviewing, assessing, and enhancing our internal processes and protocols to eliminate bias is underway in each area, with a special focus on initiatives that bring differing perspectives together, and ensuring that all students have access to various opportunities and experiences
  • Removing financial barriers continues to be an important part of our efforts to ensure an equivalent educational experience inside and outside the classroom for all students.

Fostering a campus culture of diversity and inclusion takes care and ongoing attention. I’m grateful to all faculty, staff, and students who contribute formally and informally to ensuring Hamilton is a community in which all members can achieve their full intellectual, social, and moral capacities.

David

New Semester, New Decade, New Opportunities, January 15, 2020

Dear Hamilton Students and Parents,

I have just returned to a snow-free campus from a week visiting alumni in California. One of the alumni I visited, a former economics major, is now president of a biotech start-up working on treatments for arthritis, hair loss, and cancer. An alumna I met, a creative writing and religious studies double major at Hamilton, is the president of a leading NBA playoff contender. And a third alumnus, also a religious studies major, runs a popular brewery. All credit their success to the liberal arts education they received at Hamilton – something our most recent graduates are beginning to experience.

While most of their 2019 classmates have started careers or graduate education, a significant number of recent graduates began nationally competitive fellowships and assistantships, including Fulbright Assistantships, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, a Watson Fellowship, a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Fellowship, and two FAO Schwarz Fellowships in Social Impact. Two additional members of the Class of 2019 received Bristol Fellowships, one is serving in the Peace Corps, and 11 joined Teach for America.

A number of current students also received major awards to support their interests and research. These include a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship and a Coccia Foundation Scholarship for study in Italy. An additional five students received word in November that they were the recipients of U.S. Department of State-sponsored Gilman Scholarships to study abroad during the spring semester.

As our California alumni and Class of 2019 graduates make clear, a liberal arts education, whatever the major, prepares students for any career.

The talents of our students were also displayed last fall on stage, in the community, and on the playing field. For the second time in three years, every fall sports team eligible for postseason play qualified for conference tournaments, and the winter teams are also enjoying considerable success. Individually, a volleyball player was selected for her sport’s All-America team, and a men’s basketball player, last season’s NESCAC Player of the Year, was named a preseason All-American.

Exceptional students require experienced and accomplished teachers and mentors to cultivate their skills and abilities, and Hamilton’s professors are as gifted as they are committed to the education of their students. In addition to the outstanding professors who have been teaching on College Hill for many years, we welcomed nine wonderful new tenure-track professors to replace recent retirees who have been an integral part of our community for decades. It is difficult to lose such legendary teachers, but new professors offer opportunities to refresh our pedagogy and broaden our curricular offerings in new and emerging fields.

One such field, for which our faculty recently approved a minor, is statistics. The new minor will address a growing need and expectation for digitally fluent graduates and a corresponding student demand for courses in statistics, data science, probability, and stochastic processes. Hamilton now offers 57 areas of study, including 43 concentrations.

Examples of our faculty’s expertise and capacity are too numerous to mention individually, but you can find news about the work of our faculty on our website. You can also find information about new grants, conference presentations, expert commentary in the media, and coverage about critically acclaimed new books, such as Maurice Isserman’s study of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, which included former Professor of Geology Don Potter, who died several years ago after a distinguished teaching career on College Hill.

In addition to grants received by our faculty, Hamilton recently secured significant grant funding to create a digital commons in the Burke Library, to support an interdisciplinary arts and technology program, to fund programs sponsored by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, and to enhance campus safety.

We marked several important anniversaries in the fall, including the 50th anniversary of the Washington, D.C., program, the 35th anniversary of La Vanguardia’s founding, the 25th anniversary of Hamilton’s EMT program becoming a New York State EMS agency, and the 50th anniversary conference of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, at which Hamilton’s Director of Opportunity Programs Phyllis Breland ’80 received a lifetime achievement award.

We are also observing throughout 2019-20 the 10th anniversary of the Hamilton’s decision to become need-blind in admission, a testament to our commitment to access and opportunity for all students, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances. We’re grateful to so many in our community who made gifts for financial aid during Because Hamilton Day, when more than $3 million was contributed by 3,658 alumni, parents, students and friends. A video featuring several of our students was produced last fall to mark the 10th anniversary of the need-blind decision.

Increasing funding for student scholarship aid is a top priority for the Because Hamilton campaign. The development of an integrated advising system that builds a team approach to student advising is another focus for the College. ALEX, which stands for Advise, Learn, and EXperience, blends the strategic plan’s call for an emphasis on integrated advising with its ambition to develop further opportunities for experiential learning. The goal is to give students, from the very start of their time on College Hill, the support to explore and develop the skills that will equip them for success on campus and after graduation. We are making considerable progress on this initiative, and you will be hearing more about it in the coming months.

Finally, as we look toward the new semester, I’m pleased to call your attention to three discussions scheduled as part of the Common Ground program. The first, organized together with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, will focus on affirmative action in light of recent legal challenges to admission practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina and will take place on January 29 in the Chapel. We also have programs scheduled for February 11 on the pros and cons of impeachment and March 12 on the causes, consequences, and policy choices associated with income inequality. Common Ground is a forum for speakers to discuss contemporary issues and model respectful dialogue from different perspectives. More details will be shared soon, but I encourage students to add these dates to their calendars.

For those returning to campus in the coming days, please travel safely, and best wishes to all for a productive and enlightening new year.

David

2019

Common Ground on the Ground, September 3, 2019

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Several years ago, we launched Common Ground, a program that brings together speakers with differing viewpoints, each willing to model respectful dialogue. I am pleased to announce that beginning this fall, with a donor’s generous financial support, we will supplement that series with a new pilot program called “Common Ground on the Ground.”

The goal for the new program is to stimulate discussion of pressing social issues across a wide range of subject areas, including economics, history, literature, the arts, philosophy, law, and politics.

Examples of the kind of programs that might attract funding include: a program that trains peer leaders to facilitate dialogue between students with different viewpoints; hosting pairs of visiting jurists, diplomats, journalists, and others for mini-courses and workshops; creating new student-led publications, podcasts, online broadcasts, or video content that present varying perspectives; offering programs jointly sponsored by students who represent different religious traditions; and creating new or redesigned courses and seminars that encourage open dialogue about polarizing issues, with guest speakers, simulations, and paired readings.

Students, faculty, and staff with ideas for fostering cross-boundary learning may apply for funding by submitting proposals to Gill King in the President’s Office. The proposals will be reviewed by a committee appointed by the president using the following criteria:

  • Potential to generate meaningful experiences with enduring impact
  • Relevance and significance of issues involved
  • Balance and inclusion of different viewpoints in the same forum
  • Number of students involved
  • Sustainability or scalability, with consideration for life beyond the pilot program

The committee will make recommendations to the President’s Office, which will provide financial support for selected proposals. In addition, College-initiated programming that supports Common Ground themes (e.g., using the new Residential Curriculum to deliver Common Ground programming and content) may receive financial support as part of this initiative. For the long term, we hope to establish an endowment as part of the Because Hamilton campaign to fund Common Ground on the Ground.

More information and the application form can be found at Interfolio. Please direct any questions to Gill King (gking@hamilton.edu, ext. 4104) in the President’s Office.

David

Hamilton’s 208th Year, August 26, 2019

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

To the returning members of our community, welcome back. To our new students, faculty, and staff, welcome to Hamilton! You have joined a warm and engaged learning community that values your perspectives, experiences, and talents. We look forward to the contributions you will make. I look forward to meeting each of you.

A residential liberal arts college is a special place, with unparalleled opportunities for intellectual development and personal growth. Hamiltonians come from around the country and around the world, to learn from and about one another. We occupy a space and share an identity that has been formed by and across many generations, and we inherit traditions of academic rigor, open and respectful dialogue, generosity of spirit, and commitment to the transformative possibilities of a liberal arts education.

Hamilton educates students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. This implies a responsibility to effect positive change in this community and beyond.

There will be plenty of opportunities to exercise that responsibility. We begin another academic year amidst divisions exacerbated by the U.S. presidential campaign and recent outbreaks of violence. In your classes and in the lectures, panel discussions, and formal and informal conversations that will take place daily throughout the year, you will have many occasions to explore what it means to be an informed and engaged citizen. I encourage you to participate fully and with conviction, confront new ideas, and consider other perspectives, even those with which you are uncomfortable.

And, yes, I encourage you to have some fun. Best wishes for a wonderful and exciting new year.

David

Attacks in Sri Lanka, April 22, 2019

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I write for the third time since October to ask that you join me in denouncing religious violence and bigotry, this time in Sri Lanka against Christians on Easter Sunday. The coordinated attacks against three Catholic churches and several hotels and other gathering places killed almost 300 people and injured hundreds more on a day that Christians gathered worldwide to renew their faith in a celebration of peace, joy, and salvation.

Please remember those killed and injured in Sri Lanka and their families, and stand in solidarity with members of the Christian community and others most affected by these terrible attacks, just as we stood in solidarity with those affected by the inhumane acts in Pittsburgh in October and Christchurch last month.

Hamilton is stronger because of the many different cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds that come together at our College. Once again I call on all of us to make our campus a continuing example of a community where difference is embraced and celebrated.

David

Attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

While I hoped simply to wish everyone a well-deserved spring break, I feel compelled instead to ask that you join me in expressing solidarity and support for the family members of those killed in the tragic mass shooting in New Zealand, for the Muslim community, and for all who are affected by this latest terrible manifestation of Islamophobia.

As a community dedicated to openness and inclusion, we must condemn all acts of violence motivated by hatred and religious bigotry. Despite their appalling frequency, we cannot allow such acts to seem commonplace.

In the fall, I wrote following an all-too-similar attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Attacks such as those in Christchurch and Pittsburgh are intended to spread fear and division. We can best resist that aim not simply by denouncing intolerance whenever and wherever we encounter it, but by doing whatever we can, as individuals and as a community, to foster an environment of respect and inclusion. Doing so affirms the values of this College and helps build the kind of society in which we should all aspire to live. Let us make Hamilton a continuing example of a community where difference is embraced and celebrated.

David

Response to the Department of Education’s Proposed Title Ix Rule Changes, January 30, 2019

The Honorable Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos:

Hamilton College is a private, residential liberal arts college enrolling 1,860 students in Clinton, N.Y. We write to respond to the proposed Rule on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance. Hamilton applauds the Department of Education’s desire to ensure protections for all parties in Title IX proceedings, but we are contacting you to raise five concerns.

1. The Proposed Rule Inappropriately Limits the Types of Conduct and Scope of Conduct that May be Considered Under a Title IX Policy
The proposed Rule would exclude significant types of conduct that may be addressed under current Title IX policies and procedures, and these changes, if enacted, will substantially interfere with our community members’ ability to participate equally in the College’s programs and activities, and/or create significant administrative burdens. We are particularly concerned about the following provisions:

  • Section 106.44 of the proposed rule establishes the standard for an institution’s response under Title IX, providing that “a recipient with actual knowledge of sexual harassment in an education program or activity of the recipient against a person in the United States must respond in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent.”
  • Section 106.44(e) defines “sexual harassment” subject to a Title IX Process as “(i) an employee of the recipient conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; (ii) unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to a recipient’s education program or activity; or (iii) sexual assault, as defined in 34 CFR 886.46(a).”
  • Section 106.45(b)(3) further provides that “[i]f the conduct alleged by the complainant would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in Section 106.44(e) even if proved or did not occur within the recipient’s program or activity, the recipient must dismiss the formal complaint with regard to that conduct.” [Emphasis added.]

First, Section 106.44 limits conduct considered under Title IX to conduct that occurs in “an education program or activity.” Our campus is residential, but our students are involved in the local community through informal programs. Our students also interact with local community members and fellow College community members off campus. Under the proposed regulation, an incident of potential sexual misconduct that occurs at a party on campus could be addressed under the Title IX Policy, but an incident that occurs at a practically identical party in downtown Clinton, N.Y., less than a mile from campus, could not be addressed under the Title IX Policy. An assault involving two students, which occurs off campus, would affect a potential complainant’s equal access to the College’s educational programs and activities to the same degree as an assault that occurs on campus, given that the potential interaction between complainants and respondents during the College’s educational program is equal in both cases. Further, parties to a case of alleged on-campus misconduct would participate in a process involving all of the procedural requirements described in the proposed Rule, while parties to a case of alleged off-campus misconduct could encounter a significantly different process. This provision will result in an illogical disparity in processes available to our students depending, in part by chance, on where the incident occurs.

Second, Section 106.44 limits conduct considered under Title IX to conduct that occurs “against a person in the United States.” Our College educational program includes three programs overseas — in France, Spain, and China. A number of our students and faculty members participate in these programs. Our community members studying and working abroad should have access to the same resources and protections as our community members studying and working in the United States. This provision of the proposed Rule will prevent the College from providing equal protections and rights to our community members in different programs under the Title IX Policy.

The definition of sexual harassment in Section 106.44(e) would limit the College to only considering conduct that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to a recipient’s education program or activity.” This provision prohibits colleges from addressing conduct that creates a discriminatory environment that limits an individual’s experience of educational programs if the conduct falls short of entirely depriving the individual of educational access.

Finally, the proposed Rule would prohibit institutions from using Title IX processes to address a variety of other conduct that federal law recognizes as having similar implications. Most notably, the proposed Rule would preclude institutions from using Title IX processes to adjudicate cases of alleged dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking not otherwise constituting “sexual harassment” within the meaning of Section 106.44(e). This seems illogical given that the Violence Against Women Act amendments to the Clery Act (“VAWA”) mandate similar processes for such cases as those used to adjudicate cases of sexual assault.

In the comments to the proposed Rule, the Department suggests that the College may still address conduct that falls outside of the narrow jurisdiction set forth in the proposed Rule through a different process. However, in light of the obligation, imposed by proposed Section 106.45(b)(3), to “dismiss” from its Title IX process a complaint alleging conduct falling outside that jurisdiction, the College will need to either adjudicate such conduct under a generic disciplinary process or create yet a third disciplinary process designed to replicate many if not all of the aspects of the Title IX process in order to comply with VAWA and/or avoid providing community members vastly different rights based solely on, for example, where an incident occurs. This will create confusion between the applicable policies and cause undue burden by forcing the College to create new mechanisms to address conduct that is currently addressed appropriately under the Title IX process. If the Department retains the significantly narrowed definitions described above, we submit that institutions should be permitted to use their discretion to make the Department’s required Title IX process available to adjudicate cases falling outside of those definitions.

2. The Provision Mandating an Investigation is Unduly Burdensome
Under Section 106.44(b)(2), the College will be required to conduct a formal investigation when there are multiple reports of sexual harassment against one potential respondent. This provision is overly broad because it does not take into account the severity and nature of the alleged conduct, potentially requiring the College to proceed against the wishes of a complainant and/or in circumstances where a respondent does not pose a danger to the community. We suggest allowing institutions to evaluate the response on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of the incident(s) and information available in the reports. Our current Policy allows the College to pursue an investigation if there is information that suggests a continuing danger or threat, even if a complainant does not request a process.

3. The Requirements for a Live Hearing Create Undue Burdens on the College and Will Not Increase Due Process Protections
Under Section 106.45(b)(3)(vii) of the proposed Rule, the College will be required to conduct live hearings to adjudicate each case not addressed by informal resolution. At the hearings, the parties must submit to cross examination and must be represented by an advisor. Each advisor will conduct the cross examination of the other party. If a party does not have an advisor, the College will have to provide an advisor to represent the party.

Under our current Policy, each formal investigation is conducted by a team of experienced and trained investigators. Each party has the opportunity to identify witnesses to be interviewed, propose questions to be posed by the investigation team, and submit physical and electronic evidence to be considered in the investigation. The investigators interview the parties and witnesses and may conduct follow-up interviews to address significant inconsistences in the interviews. The College provides each party the opportunity to review all of the evidence gathered in a formal investigation that will be presented to decision makers, including statements made by each party and witness. The parties have a full and fair opportunity to respond to the information and to point out any inconsistencies in the statements and physical or electronic evidence. A review panel, comprised of three neutral community members trained to adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct, meets to determine whether the respondent has violated the Policy. The parties have the opportunity to meet with and address the panel prior to deliberations.

Our process is transparent and provides fundamental fairness to the parties. Supplementing our process with a live hearing in which each party is subject to cross examination is unnecessary and will greatly favor a party with the financial resources to hire an attorney. In order to provide an equal process for all parties in a formal investigation, are institutions expected to furnish an attorney-advisor for any party who is unable to hire counsel themselves? If so, institutions will incur a significant financial burden, and many institutions located in rural areas, such as our College, will not have access to the legal resources available in a larger metropolitan area.

4. The Provisions Regarding Parties’ Review of the Investigation Materials are Unduly Burdensome
Section 106.45(b)(3)(viii) provides that both parties have the opportunity to “review any evidence obtained as a part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a formal complaint, including evidence upon which the recipient does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility...”

In the course of a formal investigation, parties and witnesses may share information that is private or embarrassing and completely irrelevant to the investigation. Our College Policy provides that the Title IX Coordinator and the Chair of the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board (HSMB), who are not investigators or decision makers, may redact information that is “irrelevant, more prejudicial to a party or witness than probative, an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy, otherwise violative of this policy, or immaterial.” The Title IX Coordinator and the HSMB Chair apply this standard to information provided by and about both parties. The provision that a party may review “any” evidence gathered in the investigation will lead to an unnecessary violation of privacy. Instead, we recommend that all parties have the right to review any evidence that will be considered by decision makers, as is the current policy at Hamilton College. Given that excluded evidence will not be used as a basis for a determination, this will not prejudice either party.

5. Prohibiting Restrictions on Parties Discussing Allegations in an Investigation is Unnecessary and Potentially Damaging to Both Parties Under Section 106.45(b)(3) (iii), the College cannot “restrict the ability of either party to discuss allegations under investigation or to gather and present relevant evidence.” In practice, the College asks parties and witnesses to treat the information in an investigation as “private.” We do not prohibit anyone from identifying relevant witnesses and evidence, or from seeking and obtaining support throughout the investigation process. This provision in the proposed rule, as it is currently written, is overly broad and would prohibit the College from establishing a reasonable standard for communications about a pending investigation to protect privacy and the integrity of the process. Unrestricted discussion of an ongoing investigation by parties and witnesses could also hinder the parties’ access to our education program during the course of the investigation and for the remainder of their educational experience.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Rule on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance. We believe the five concerns raised above address matters that will have a detrimental effect on the protections the Department of Education is seeking to instill.

Sincerely,

David Wippman, President
Hamilton College

2018

Proposed Title IX Regulations, November 27, 2018

Dear Members of the Hamilton community,

On November 16, the Department of Education issued proposed regulations that, if implemented as currently drafted, would force significant changes in the way most colleges and universities respond to complaints of sexual misconduct under Title IX. The Department of Education will soon begin a 60-day notice-and-comment period as a prelude to the issuance of final, binding regulations. Until final regulations are promulgated, existing federal and state law governing sexual misconduct, and the College's own current sexual misconduct policy, will continue in effect.

The College remains firmly committed to preventing sexual misconduct and to providing a fair process for the resolution of sexual misconduct complaints. We are concerned about the possible impact of some of the proposed regulations and considering how we might best respond. Among other things, we are talking with our peers about participating jointly in the federal notice-and-comment process. As the process moves forward, we will convene a small group to explore the implications of the potential changes. We will also participate, beginning next semester, in the Culture of Respect program, and will bring together a separate group to consider changes to our sexual misconduct education programs and procedures.

The Hamilton community will be notified if our Title IX policies, programs, or procedures are updated or changed.

The draft of the proposed new federal regulations is lengthy. It includes language governing the evidentiary standard to be used and a requirement to allow cross-examination. Also included are changes to the definition of sexual harassment, the circumstances under which a college or university may be found in violation of Title IX, and the off-campus reach of an institution's Title IX obligations.

Whatever the outcome of the rulemaking process, the College will do all it can to foster a safe and supportive environment for all students.

David

Pittsburgh Shootings, October 29, 2018

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I had intended to write today to express my appreciation to all involved in this year's wonderful Fallcoming and Family Weekend, but I will leave that for another time.

The hatred and violence visited on congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this weekend represent an escalation of intolerance in our national political life that should alarm and sadden all of us. What happened in Pittsburgh is terrible and tragic. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident.

More than a year ago, I wrote to denounce the violence in Charlottesville. Since that time, there has been an upsurge in the public expression of racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry, with tragic consequences.

As a community, we are dedicated to fostering an environment where each member can thrive, and we should denounce intolerance whenever and wherever we encounter it. Doing so affirms the values of this College and civilized society.

I encourage you to attend the vigil this evening and to do what you can to support the members of our community most affected by recent events. For any who may need assistance, please take advantage of the many resources available on campus.

David

Strategic Plan Update, August 28, 2018

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Following the Board of Trustees' review of the College's Strategic Plan in the spring, the senior staff began working on its implementation. We will provide periodic updates on our progress.

Suzanne Keen and Joe Shelley will coordinate the implementation of "Digital Hamilton." They will work with faculty and staff on ways to encourage digital pedagogy across the curriculum, so that students can acquire digital skills along with skills in writing, oral communication, and quantitative literacy. As outlined in the strategic plan, new efforts will focus on improving digital learning facilities, supporting new and continuing faculty members who have interest and expertise in digital pedagogy, providing assistance for digitally intensive courses, and supporting students in acquiring digital fluencies. At the same time, Suzanne and Joe will coordinate efforts to modernize administrative information systems to better support data-informed decision making and foster greater efficiency in campus operations.

Margaret Gentry, in her new role as senior advisor to the president for experiential learning, will take the lead on developing and coordinating the experiential learning section of the strategic plan. She will work with faculty, students, staff, and alumni to strengthen and support existing experiential programs, develop new programs, streamline student access to these experiences, and bring together resources from across divisions to better coordinate experiential learning at Hamilton. Margaret is also working with faculty and staff on the development of an advising network to integrate advising resources on campus so that students can more easily access these resources at the appropriate time in their education. Terry Martinez, Tara McKee, Karen Brewer, Nathan Goodale, and Janine Oliver are working with Margaret on the advising network.

Terry Martinez will oversee the implementation of "The Residential Experience" at Hamilton. As part of this process, she and colleagues will explore various housing options for our students and will initially focus on developing a comprehensive First Year Experience, coordinating a Special Interest Housing option for sophomores and juniors, decongesting our residences and enhancing lounge space, and, as indicated earlier, working in partnership with Margaret Gentry to develop an integrated advising network. This work will include the creation of programmatic goals and assessment.

Karen Leach will coordinate the overall implementation of the plan by creating and monitoring progress on a list of initiatives and related projects. A budget plan and timeline will be developed and coordinated with the work of the Faculty Committee on Budget and Finance, senior staff, and the trustee committees on Budget and Finance and Development. Lori Dennison is integrating the initiatives identified in the plan with the other priorities for the capital campaign that will launch later this year.

If you have questions about a specific initiative in the plan, please feel free to contact me or one of the people working on that part of the plan's implementation.

David

Year-End Message, June 1, 2018

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends,

Now that the semester has ended, I thought I would review with you a few of the Hamilton highlights of the past year and discuss how we are responding to some difficult challenges.

We observed the end of the College's 206th year, of course, with Commencement weekend, which was marked by some of the best speeches I have heard at such ceremonies. On that Saturday, Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America, delivered a stirring Baccalaureate address on the meaning of true equality. On Sunday, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker encouraged students to embrace history — good and bad — and lead the way forward with empathy, courage, and compassion. Soper-Merrill Prize recipient Marquis Palmer of Utica, N.Y., and Class Speaker Eleni Neyland of Boxborough, Mass., also delivered thought-provoking speeches in an admirable display of Hamilton's commitment to effective oral expression. It was humbling, inspiring, and a lot of fun to preside at such occasions.

Commencement also called to mind some of the tragedies we experienced during the year, including the death of a beloved faculty member in a cycling accident and the suicide of a sophomore from Massachusetts. In a small, close-knit community such as ours, these losses are felt deeply.

Last fall's suicide was the second at Hamilton in two years. As you may know, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health diagnoses among teens and young adults in the United States, and the numbers are growing. Suicidal thoughts and acts of self-harm are rising among college students, and the rates are even higher for the same age population not in college. Because of the tragedies that have visited our campus, I want you to know how we are responding.

As I shared with the campus in early April, Hamilton has taken the following steps since 2016:

  • Commissioned an external review of our processes and structures for supporting students by experts from Duke University
  • Moved to a case-management model to assist students and hired an associate dean for student support services
  • Implemented recommendations from the JED Foundation, an organization devoted to suicide prevention
  • Instituted gatekeeper training for faculty and staff to help them recognize and respond to students in distress
  • Expanded the physical space in the new counseling center (which will open in the fall), and added new programming and personnel, including a full-time psychiatrist
  • Launched a Community of Care Initiative for students, faculty, and staff to support each other in healing and in action following a student death
  • Instituted 24/7/365 crisis coverage that students can access on campus, at home, while studying off campus, and during vacations
  • Added a peer counseling program that provides peer-to-peer counseling sessions, support groups, wellness workshops, and suicide gatekeeper training

Ongoing discussions will lead to additional action. All of us at Hamilton are committed to addressing student mental health issues with care, compassion, and concern.

While we continue to mourn the members of our community who passed away this year, we also celebrate the many recent accomplishments at Hamilton. Our distinguished faculty hosted international conferences, earned professional recognition, and published prolifically, and we enjoyed a host of concerts, theatre productions, readings, art exhibitions, and athletic contests that showcased our extraordinary students. Most noteworthy, four Hamilton seniors received prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships – the most ever. Seven were also awarded Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistantships. In the fall we launched an extremely well attended Common Ground series featuring David Axelrod and Karl Rove, and followed that in the spring with a combined Sacerdote Great Names and Common Ground event with Susan Rice and Condoleezza Rice. We also celebrated the 100th anniversary of hockey on College Hill and shared in Clinton's designation as Hockeyville USA.

Hamilton continues to be among the most popular choices for high-achieving high school students. A record 6,240 applicants sought to join the Class of 2022, 10 percent more than a year ago, and just 21 percent were accepted, also a record. We joined two new programs, QuestBridge and the American Talent Initiative, that help colleges identify and enroll some of America's brightest students from low-income backgrounds, further strengthening Hamilton's reputation as a school of opportunity.

These initiatives are consistent with an important goal of our recently completed strategic plan: ensuring that deserving students have equal access to a Hamilton education. The plan also calls for us to transform the ways in which we teach, learn, and operate the College, with digitally intensive courses and emerging digital technologies; develop a model residential program; and establish a new organizational framework for experiential and community learning opportunities. We also intend to expand existing initiatives focused on teaching and advising.

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on all things Hamilton. Please feel free to contact me at dwippman@hamilton.edu or by mail at 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful summer,

David

Norovirus and Campus, April 27, 2018

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

The norovirus, coming so close to the end of the semester, has added a substantial new burden on students preparing for papers, exams, and presentations. As a result, some students have urged that Hamilton cancel classes. We have given that option serious thought, but after consulting with experts and considering best practices have decided to continue normal operations.

The Oneida County Health Department has recommended that the College continue operating on a normal schedule as long as the treatment and prevention efforts we’ve undertaken remain in place. Canceling classes on a residential campus where more than 1,800 students still need to be housed and fed is unlikely to lessen appreciably the duration or severity of the problem. The best way to mitigate the impact of the virus is to follow the prevention methods described in earlier emails.

The College will continue aggressive efforts to end the spread of the virus by continually disinfecting high contact surfaces and touch points. We ask that you support others on campus by staying home or in your residence hall if you have symptoms consistent with norovirus and remaining home for 48 hours after experiencing your last symptom.

We do not want students who are ill to feel pressured to attend class, so we have asked the faculty to be flexible with their attendance and deadline policies and to assist students who miss class due to sickness to make up the missed work. At the same time, we are asking students to keep their professors informed of their situation to avoid misunderstandings.

We offer our sympathies to the students who have contracted the virus and those who are worried about becoming sick. We know this has been a difficult week. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to eliminate norovirus from campus.

David Wippman and Margaret Gentry

Support for Students Experiencing Anxiety and Depression, April 1, 2018

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Many in our community were present last Monday evening or read the minutes from the Student Assembly meeting when Dean of Students Terry Martinez reiterated the College’s commitment to increase student wellness and provide specific support for students experiencing anxiety and depression. Dean Martinez also outlined some of the ways we continue to improve upon those services and programs as new ideas and practices become available.

Among the actions taken by the College in the past year are the following: an external review of our processes and structures for supporting students of concern by a team from Duke University; the move to a case-management model to assist students of concern and the hiring of an associate dean of students for student support services, as recommended by the external review; additional work by the College to implement recommendations from the JED Foundation, an organization devoted to suicide prevention; the institution of gatekeeper training for faculty and staff and a student-implemented model for the same to help community members recognize and respond to students in distress and refer them to mental health resources; an expansion of the physical space in the new counseling center, with additional programming and personnel, including the decision to conduct a search for a full-time psychiatrist; and adoption of the Community of Care Initiative. Ongoing discussions around student mental health may lead to additional action.

These initiatives are part of a continuing evolution, and we have also welcomed the input of students and parents, such as Mr. and Mrs. Burton, the parents of Graham. Graham’s death was a terrible tragedy for his family, friends, and our community, and the Burton family continues to have our deepest sympathy for their loss.

We continue doing all that we can to ensure the safety and welfare of our students. There are many resources available to you or any member of our community in need of support. The most immediate ways to seek assistance are to contact the Counseling Center (315-859-4340), the Dean of Students Office (315-859-4020), or Campus Safety (315-859-4141).

Sincerely,

David Wippman

2017

A Message to the Community, December 4, 2017

I write to address issues of serious concern to every member of the Hamilton community. Recently, Professor Paul Gottfried appeared as a guest speaker in two classes, one dealing with modern conservative politics and the other with European history. A number of students protested outside the classes in which he spoke.

In the aftermath of his visit, the Government Department issued a statement. The statement noted "multiple complaints from students about racist remarks allegedly made by Gottfried" during his appearance in class and went on to "unequivocally condemn any and all such racist remarks, written or spoken." Members of Student Assembly also issued a statement condemning any expression of racist views but defending Mr. Gottfried's right to speak on campus.

Gottfried's appearance on campus and the reactions to it provide an occasion to revisit some of the principles and values important to our community. I start with ones on which I hope we can all agree.

First, we are a community that values all its members. We want and need to foster a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment. We have made considerable progress on this in recent years and we are better and stronger for it, even though we still have much more to do.

Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry are anathema to our core values. Claims of racial hierarchy based on spurious notions of genetics are scientifically bankrupt and morally repugnant. I understand, intellectually, morally, and viscerally, the anger and pain members of our community experience when faced with such claims, particularly in the current political climate and historical context.

Racism on campus imposes particular burdens on faculty, students, and staff of color, who must deal with assaults on their dignity and humanity and at the same time are called upon disproportionately to support and advise other members of the community.

Second, we are a community that insists upon academic rigor. That means, among other things, that we should not invite speakers to address subjects on which they have little or no relevant expertise or who espouse views that have no grounding in reason or fact.

Third, as an academic institution, the free and open exchange of ideas is central to our mission.

These principles are clear in the abstract, but their application in particular cases may be less clear. We have dozens, if not hundreds, of invited speakers every year. We do not have, nor should we have, a central authority that decides who may or may not speak on campus.

Special considerations apply when a speaker is invited to a class, in which attendance is expected. Consistent with principles of academic freedom, faculty have—and should have—wide latitude on how to structure their classes, what readings they assign, and what speakers they invite. It is essential that all members of our community exercise good judgment when making such decisions and be mindful of the impact of their choices on the broader community.

On occasion, members of our community will disagree sharply with and criticize the decision to invite a particular speaker. That, too, is part of the freedom that all of us share.

As president, I am mindful of the need to ensure that faculty members, when making decisions about their research or teaching, retain the autonomy and freedom essential to their role in academic life. I am also committed, as a matter of deep personal conviction as well as institutional values, to promoting an environment that fosters diversity and inclusion and supports and respects all members of our community.

In the days ahead, I will be meeting with members of Academic Council, department chairs, and others to discuss how best to pursue these goals.

Community of Caring, October 2, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Last week our community experienced the tragic loss of one of our students, Isaiah Carpenter-Winch. His passing left many of us confused, frustrated, and helpless. We have received numerous emails from community members asking how we can better address mental health issues and foster a stronger sense of wholeness and connectedness in our community. Now is a time when we can each pause to ask what we, as individuals, can do to support and enhance our community while at the same time address as an institution the societal issues that affect the lives of our students.

With that in mind, we are writing to announce the launch of a Community of Care initiative. This initiative, which will be coordinated by the Dean of Students Office, will provide opportunities for us to come together in small groups to build community. Elements for immediate implementation include community dinners and an educational campaign focused on seeking assistance; longer-term opportunities will include education, skill building, and enhancing our systems, protocols, and policies around wellness and mental health. These topics are already being discussed as part of the College's strategic planning process.

We will be attending meetings this week, including the Student Assembly and the Faculty Meeting, to discuss this initiative in greater detail. Dean Martinez will also host a Community Conversation on Thursday, October 5th, at 7 pm in the Dwight Lounge of the Bristol Center.

We hope you will engage in the conversation as we all work to strengthen an environment in which each person is cared for and supported.

David Wippman and Terry Martinez

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), September 5, 2017

To the Hamilton Community,

The Trump administration today announced that it would begin to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with a six-month window during which Congress may act to continue the program. DACA protects nearly 800,000 "Dreamers" — undocumented young people who entered the country before age 16. The DACA program enabled many promising and talented young people to attend college and begin careers. Despite the assurances they received, their future may now be in doubt.

Notwithstanding the shift in executive branch policy, Hamilton is not changing its admission policy; we will continue to welcome applications from all qualified students, including undocumented students, with the goal of building the strongest possible academic community. We will likewise continue to do all we can to support all of our students once they enroll. As I said in a related message last December, every one of our students enriches our community in unique ways, but all should be able to enjoy equally the full benefits of a Hamilton education.

With the ultimate future of DACA shifting to Congress, I have been in touch with colleagues in the New York Six, and we will jointly approach the New York congressional delegation to urge support for legislation that would codify the principles of DACA. I believe those principles benefit our campuses, our communities, and our country. I am also in touch with colleagues in NESCAC and elsewhere about other ways to pursue this issue.

In the meantime, campus and other resources are available for members of our community with questions about changes in immigration law and policy. View a list of resources on our website.

Hamilton’s Tradition of Open and Respectful Dialogue, August 24, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Welcome to our new students, faculty and staff, and welcome back to those of you who are returning to College Hill for your second, third and fourth years or, in the case of some faculty and staff, your second, third or fourth decades. With the exception of move-in day last Tuesday, when an enthusiastic band of colorfully costumed Continentals greeted our new students by dancing, cheering and holding up cardboard signs, the campus was quiet this summer.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for much of the rest of the world. News from Washington, Charlottesville, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere affects us all. In keeping with Hamilton's tradition of open and respectful dialogue, we will have multiple opportunities this year to consider the implications and significance of the kinds of events that have dominated the news recently and, unfortunately, likely will recur in the days ahead. A variety of programs will address these issues, including lectures, panel discussions and community conversations.

In particular, I hope you will attend a new program, Common Ground, which will bring together on October 18 two leading political strategists with very different perspectives for a moderated conversation on a variety of "hot button" issues. Our speakers for that program, David Axelrod and Karl Rove, will model for our audience one of the goals of a liberal education: engaging respectfully with views and perspectives that are different from one's own.

As I said yesterday in my Convocation remarks, part of a student's education here lies precisely in exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking and in getting to know people with different identities, backgrounds, and perspectives, even when doing so proves uncomfortable.

Best wishes for a wonderful, enlightening and sometimes uncomfortable academic year.

David

Recent Events, August 17, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

On Tuesday, we welcomed the class of 2021 and our new transfer students. One of the joys of working at a place like Hamilton is witnessing the warmth and enthusiasm of the newest members of our community as they get to know each other, the College, and the community.

The arrival of our new students has encouraged me to reflect on what I should say at Convocation and in my second welcome message to the broader campus community as we start the academic year. In both cases, I will reiterate the importance of being open to new ideas and getting to know people with different identities, backgrounds and perspectives. I hope you will join us at Convocation on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 4:30 p.m. in Wellin Hall.

I had intended to wait until Convocation to write to all of you. But I feel compelled by recent events, in particular those in Charlottesville, Virginia, to reaffirm this College's values and expectations. What took place in Charlottesville last weekend affects all of us and should alarm all of us, whatever our backgrounds or politics. The white supremacist, anti-Semitic views on display in Charlottesville are abhorrent on their own, but the willingness to use violence and intimidation to advance those views is a direct challenge to our values as a society and an academic community.

At Hamilton, we believe firmly in the principles of free speech and free association. But those same principles allow us to condemn racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry or any other form of discrimination, as well as any form of political violence or intimidation. It is incumbent on all of us to foster an environment in which every student can thrive. Doing so makes Hamilton stronger and better prepares all of us to help solve the problems we see around us.

I look forward to working with you to address these issues.

Sincerely,

David

Strategic Planning Process, June 26, 2017

Members of the Hamilton Community,

This spring three committees of faculty, staff, students, and trustees engaged with the Hamilton community in generating ideas for Hamilton’s strategic planning process. These committees were focused around issues of student success, academic vision, and transformative ideas for the College as a whole. The process generated hundreds of ideas and suggestions. Thank you to everyone who took the time to engage in this process, most particularly the members of the three committees and their chairs—Monica Inzer, Marianne Janack, and Onno Oerlemans.

The three committees worked to narrow down the focus in each of their areas to 8-10 major priorities. During this process, some ideas emerged that would best be considered by specific individuals or offices on campus, and these ideas will be forwarded to the appropriate individuals and offices. The committees also discussed continuing support for some of the College’s core priorities, which we will maintain and continue to develop, including: our liberal arts mission, our commitment to need-blind admissions, and our efforts to build a diverse and inclusive community.

Roughly 30 ideas moved forward from the three committees as strategic initiatives. The steering committee has grouped them into at least three areas that we believe we should focus on in the immediate future. A fourth area centered on curriculum and faculty is still under discussion. We are in the process of setting up working groups with members whose expertise is closely connected to the three areas that have been identified. For more details on each area, see the attachments.

Each working group will work over the summer to explore aspects of its area and complete a report for the steering committee by mid-August. Each group is charged with studying in more depth the goals we are trying to achieve, some previously suggested actions Hamilton could take to meet those goals, and the impact these actions would have on students, faculty and staff, alumni, various units on campus, facilities, and budget. The working groups will send their recommendations to the steering committee by the beginning of the fall semester, and the steering committee will then engage the community in discussion and further development of these recommendations. The planning process is an iterative one and will benefit from your feedback and thoughts.

Sincerely,

Margaret Gentry and David Wippman

Sexual Misconduct Working Group Report, May 12, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

In December, I convened a Sexual Misconduct Working Group and asked it to review the College's sexual misconduct policies and practices. The working group met with numerous groups and individuals on campus. Although concluding that our current policy is in most respects "comprehensive and consistent with current law and best practices," the working group has made a number of valuable recommendations. Its report is available online.

As noted in the working group's report, some recommendations will require further study, while others can be implemented fairly quickly. I will be working with the dean of students, the Title IX coordinator and others to move forward as quickly and thoughtfully as we can.

Sincerely,

David

Hamilton Joining QuestBridge May 10, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

I am pleased to announce that Hamilton will begin partnering with QuestBridge, a national organization that connects talented, high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds with highly selective colleges and universities. Six other NESCAC colleges and six of the eight Ivy League institutions are among QuestBridge's 38 current members.

This partnership extends our efforts to recruit the most talented and diverse students to Hamilton regardless of their financial circumstances. The first QuestBridge students will enroll at Hamilton in the fall of 2018.

David

Joint Statement From Colgate University and Hamilton College, February 28, 2017

Dear Members of the Hamilton College and Colgate University Communities,

As you know, recent changes to federal immigration law and policy have caused concern on both of our campuses, and across the nation. Although federal courts have temporarily blocked implementation of President Trump's January 27th executive order, new changes to federal law are under consideration, in both the executive branch and the Congress.

While we cannot know the form these changes will take, we are committed to maintaining open and welcoming campus environments and intent on providing as much support to members of our communities as we can. We also believe that joining our efforts will better support our students, faculty, and staff.

With this in mind, we will begin sharing Colgate and Hamilton programs, resources and expertise across our two campuses. Our close proximity and, more importantly, shared values make this possible. Among other things, we will work together to assist those students on our campuses who, in light of evolving immigration laws, are reconsidering their summer plans and may need help finding summer employment or housing. We will also assist Colgate and Hamilton seniors seeking to plan for the impact of the changing law on their post-graduation employment opportunities. And we will examine ways to provide additional legal guidance on immigration-related issues to members of our community who need it.

As a first step administrators on both campuses are reaching out to students to see what support they might need, particularly in the summer months, and are exploring whether programs and services located on either campus might be of help to them as they navigate this changing landscape.

We take these steps together because we believe that values of diversity, tolerance, and community are central to our educational mission as liberal arts institutions.

We look forward to working together in support of all Colgate and Hamilton students, faculty, and staff in these ways and in future joint endeavors.

Sincerely,

David Wippman, President, Hamilton College
Brian W. Casey, President, Colgate University

Executive Order on Immigration, January 30, 2017

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

President Trump recently issued an executive order restricting or blocking entry into this country for at least 90 days of nationals from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Additional countries may be added to this list in the near future.

Many of you have written to me to express concern about the discriminatory nature of the new restrictions, their impact on individual members of our community, their impact on Hamilton and American higher education, and their inconsistency with some of our community's core values. I share these concerns.

As noted in my December 6 message to the campus, what affects one member of our community affects us all. The College is named after one of this country’s most famous immigrants and has a long history of welcoming community members from around the globe, including countries named in the recent executive order. We will continue to do so. The perspectives and experiences of our international students, scholars and staff greatly enrich our community. Neither our admission standards nor our hiring practices will change. We will remain a diverse, supportive and welcoming campus.

The College will do what it can to support those members of our community affected by the new immigration policy. We are bringing an expert in immigration law to campus next week; she will be available to meet with students, faculty and staff who have questions about the impact of the new travel restrictions. Other campus resources are available to anyone with questions or concerns. Allen Harrison, our Assistant Dean of Students for International Students and Accessibility, can help direct members of our community with questions to the appropriate campus office. We will also work with our U.S. and international students abroad to offer advice, guidance and support.

It seems likely that law and policy in this area will evolve quickly. We will continue to monitor new developments and assist all affected members of our community as best we can.

David

2016

Supporting All Members of our Community, Dec. 6, 2016

Members of the Hamilton Community,

In the aftermath of the presidential election, emotions continue to run high, on campus and around the country. I have heard directly from students who feel threatened and unsafe, even here on campus, and from students who worry about their families or friends.

As I said in my November 5 email to the campus, we are a community. What affects one of us, affects us all. It is incumbent upon all of us then to do everything we can to ensure that Hamilton offers a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment in which all members of our community can thrive.

Particular concerns have been expressed for members of our community whose immigration status may put them at risk. With that in mind, over 1,100 students, faculty, staff, and alumni have signed a petition urging that I investigate the possibility of declaring Hamilton a sanctuary campus.

As someone whose career has centered on international law and human rights, I share many of the concerns that have been expressed. At Minnesota, I took the lead in establishing the Center for New Americans, which provides urgently needed legal services to noncitizens and engages in impact litigation to improve immigration law and policy. More recently, I joined other college and university presidents in a statement urging continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Because the term sanctuary campus means different things to different people, I think it best to focus on specific ways in which members of our community may need our support. I discussed our options with the Board of Trustees last Friday, and I want to share with you how I intend to move forward.

First, the College does not now and will not in the future share information about the immigration status of our students, unless legally required to do so.

Second, the College does not now and will not in the future assist with the enforcement of immigration laws against members of the campus community, unless we are legally required to do so. Campus Safety does not and will not ask students or other members of our community about their immigration status. In the absence of exigent circumstances (e.g., an imminent safety threat), police or other law enforcement agencies that wish to carry out immigration enforcement activity on campus need a warrant or court order and that will continue to be our practice in the future.

Third, we are exploring ways to provide legal and other assistance to any undocumented member of our community who needs it. Every one of our students enriches our community in unique ways, but all should be able to enjoy equally the full benefits of a Hamilton education.

Finally, as an academic community, we have a special responsibility to explore the issues that have produced so much polarization in recent months and to model the respectful dialogue that characterizes an engaged learning community. We should not only welcome but insist upon hearing a broad range of viewpoints and treat with respect even those with whom we most disagree.

David

Sexual Misconduct Working Group, Dec. 5, 2016

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

During the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about how Hamilton responds to and works to prevent sexual misconduct on campus. I am heartened to see how deeply our community—faculty, staff, students and alumni—cares about this important issue, and I am grateful for the active participation of Title IX Coordinator Lisa Magnarelli and the members of SAVES, SMART, Student Assembly and the HSMB. This topic was discussed at length at the board meeting last Friday.

Many of the conversations have focused on the Sexual Misconduct Policy. That document underwent a major revision in 2014, so it is time to look at how well it is working. I have established a Sexual Misconduct Working Group, consisting of faculty, staff, students and trustees/alumni, and asked it to review best practices in this area and to host a number of open meetings next semester to gather feedback about our procedures and policies. The Working Group will use this information to develop recommendations for possible improvements. I encourage you to participate and share your thoughts.

I am grateful to the members of the community who have agreed to serve on the Working Group:

Tina Hall, Chair
Associate Professor of Literature and Creative Writing

Aleta Brown ’17

Andrew Dykstra
Associate Professor of Mathematics

Bennett Hambrook ’17

Nora Klaphake
Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Lea Kuck '87
Trustee, Partner
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Olabisi "Bisi" Ladeji Okubadejo ’95
Of Counsel
Ballard Spahr LLP

Corinne Smith ’17

David Walden
Director of Counseling and Psychological Services and Lecturer in Psychology

All best regards,

David

Strategic Planning, December 5, 2016

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,

Next month, the College will begin a new strategic planning process. A steering committee will oversee the process, and three planning committees will examine issues ranging from curricular change to student success to the sustainability of our business model. Below please find the charges to the four committees. As you will see, the committees have been asked to consult widely, and I hope all of you will take advantage of opportunities to participate. We are in the process of forming the committees and will share the names of committee members soon.

All best regards,

David

Hamilton College Strategic Planning Committee Charges, December 5, 2016

Four committees will help draft Hamilton's next strategic plan. The charges for each committee are set out below. In fulfilling its charge, each committee should consult widely with members of the Hamilton community, including alumni. The committees may form working groups to study specific issues, construct focus groups to gather information, or use other appropriate means of gathering data. Whenever possible, the committees should be guided by and use information from current and past faculty and staff efforts to address long-term curricular, faculty and staff planning, facilities, and other issues. Each committee should identify three to five strategic goals, evaluate the costs associated with pursuing those goals, and suggest concrete measures for assessing progress toward achieving those goals. Following each committee charge is a set of questions. These questions are intended to serve as a starting point for discussions, but each committee is free to investigate the most important ideas and issues identified during the course of its deliberations.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee will oversee the planning process and take responsibility for considering and incorporating as appropriate the recommendations of the planning committees into the final strategic plan. The Steering Committee will meet periodically with each of the planning committees to provide guidance on committee goals and work plans, to monitor progress, to help resolve questions or problems that may arise during the course of the planning process, and to establish timelines for different phases of the planning process. The Steering Committee will also work with the planning committees to manage issues that cut across the work of two or more committees. Finally, the Steering Committee will assist each of the planning committees to narrow the range of ideas that emerge through consultations with the Hamilton community into a manageable number of strategic priorities that will inform the future direction of the College and help guide its next capital campaign.

Imagining Hamilton Committee

The Imagining Hamilton Committee (IHC) will take a 30,000-foot look at the challenges and opportunities facing higher education in general and residential liberal arts colleges in particular. With that context in mind, the Committee will engage the Hamilton community in conversations intended to elicit big ideas, however unconventional, that have the potential for transforming the direction or operations of the College and the education it provides its students. The Committee will look in particular at strategies that might cut across existing domains, e.g., academic programs and student life.

Potential Questions

  • What does, and what should, differentiate Hamilton from its peers?
  • How can we foster continuous improvement of existing programs?
  • Is our business model sustainable and, if not, what should we change?
  • Are there technological, demographic, social, legislative or financial forces on the horizon that will force major changes in what we do and, if so, how should we prepare?
    • How should we prepare for a prospective student body that will likely include more first-generation- to-college students and more students with less ability to pay for a Hamilton education?
    • In light of trends in family income, how should we address issues of affordability and access?
    • What is the appropriate role for online education?
    • How do we balance parent and student expectations for job preparation with traditional liberal arts goals?
  • How do we make Hamilton an even better place to work?
  • What is the optimal size of the student body?
Academic Vision Committee

The Academic Vision Committee will examine future directions for Hamilton's academic programs in light of the changing composition of our faculty and staff and the challenges facing higher education. In that context, the committee should consider our curriculum, workplace issues, and the needs and interests of students to recommend priorities for the near future.

Potential questions

  • What is and what should be distinctive about Hamilton's curriculum? Are there new areas that should be developed or existing areas that should be revised?
  • Does the faculty have a workable governance structure? How can we foster a stronger culture of collaboration among faculty, administration, and staff?
  • How should our curriculum respond to anticipated changes in student demographics, technology, globalization, and developments within and between disciplines?
  • What kind of flexibility (in departments and programs, in majors, in staffing) might we need to respond to the changing interests and needs of students as well as current and future imbalances in the distribution of students across majors?
  • How should we foster and support interdisciplinary programs, teaching, and scholarship?
  • How can we better connect our curriculum and academic program to other areas of student life, e.g., residential life, off-campus programs, and community and global engagement?
  • What do we need to do to recruit, retain, and develop the most talented teacher-scholars and staff?
  • How should faculty balance and be rewarded for teaching, scholarship, and service? What areas of the workload need improvement?
  • How can we maximize the value of off-campus study programs?
Student Success Committee

The Student Success Committee will identify ways to improve the overall student experience at Hamilton, with a particular focus on co-curricular activities. As Hamilton welcomes and embraces an increasingly diverse student population and strives to prepare students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship, the committee will examine the educational challenges and opportunities that exist beyond Hamilton's formal classrooms.

Potential Questions

  • How do we take full advantage of our residential community to maximize learning, success and satisfaction of all students?
  • As an institution that has made a commitment to access and increasing the diversity of its student body, what additional actions could be taken to promote a stronger sense of community and belonging for all students?
  • How can Hamilton better foster a vibrant social environment and reduce the negative impact of substance abuse?
  • How can we equip students with the tools and skills needed to be successful at Hamilton and after they graduate?
  • How can we foster even greater collaboration among students, the administration, and faculty?

Moving Forward, November 9, 2016

Dear Students,

The election campaign has laid bare deep rifts in our society. We can hope that Americans from across the political spectrum will now work to heal some of these divisions.

On our campus, we will find opportunities in the days and months ahead to discuss the meaning and significance of the election. But we are more than just an academic institution. We are a community, and what affects one of us affects all of us.

Our ability to shape what happens off campus is, of course, modest, but we can all look for ways to help the country come together and move forward. And on this campus we can – and will – continue to foster an inclusive and supportive environment.

David

Best Wishes for the Start of Hamilton’s 205th Year, August 25, 2016

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Welcome to the start of the fall semester. I have had the opportunity to meet many of you during the last two months, and I hope to meet all of you in the months ahead.

A little over a week ago, we welcomed 475 first-year students and 23 transfers; we now have students from 47 states and 46 countries. Our new students bring new excitement and energy to the campus; I know this from personal experience, having gone cycling with seven of them during Orientation. We also welcomed 25 new members of the faculty and 21 new staff members, and those I have met are just as excited as the students to be here.

As our new students and their families drove up College Hill Road on the first day of Orientation, they were greeted by an enthusiastic band of colorfully costumed returning students, dancing, cheering and holding up cardboard signs. One sign cheerfully instructed parents to “Give us your kid,” another warned “Winter is coming!” With that reception, the new students felt right at home.

As I mentioned at Convocation yesterday, although we come from around the country and around the world, we are one Hamilton—an engaged learning community that delivers one of the country’s finest liberal arts educations.

But we are also part of the larger outside community and we cannot ignore what we witness on the news every day. Recent months have seen a near-constant stream of tragic events. Political polarization is widespread and core values seem up for debate. Members of our community will experience these events differently.

In keeping with Hamilton’s tradition of open and respectful dialogue, we will have multiple opportunities this year to consider the implications and significance of the kind of events that have transpired this summer and, unfortunately, likely will recur in the days ahead. We will be holding a variety of programs intended to address these issues, including lectures, panel discussions and community conversations. Upcoming events will be posted on the College’s events webpage and announced by email.

The free and open exchanges of views on important social issues are central to our mission. I plan to attend as many of these events as my schedule will allow, and I hope you will participate too.

I am thrilled to have started my own Hamilton education and I look forward to seeing what we can do together.

Best wishes for a wonderful academic year,

David

Recent Events, July 11, 2016

Dear Students,

I had hoped my first email to you as President of Hamilton College would be to recognize and celebrate one of the many wonderful aspects of our extended community. I write instead in response to the extraordinary sequence of recent tragic events in Orlando, Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas, and in so many other communities around the world, from Iraq to Bangladesh.

These events affect all of us, but they may be felt particularly acutely by some members of our community. I want to acknowledge that fact and to encourage anyone who may wish to take advantage of counseling or other resources to contact David Walden at Hamilton’s Counseling Center (dwalden@hamilton.edu). David is available to help you identify local services available to you during the summer months.

As a society, we continue to grapple with racism, inequality, violence and similar challenges. Hamilton has made progress in addressing these issues, but we can do more. It is incumbent on all of us to foster an environment in which every student can thrive; in doing so, we make Hamilton stronger and better prepare all of us to help solve the problems we see around us.

I look forward to learning with and from you when we are all on campus this fall.

Sincerely,

David

Recent Events, July 11, 2016

Contact Information


Office of the President

Buttrick Hall
Clinton, NY 13323

Mon.-Fri.: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
315-859-4105
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