In the months since Colgate officially kicked off its Bicentennial celebration, the University has played host to more than 70 events on and off campus, and there is still much more to come.
Celebrating 200 years of academic success, student achievement, and the profound impact Colgate alumni have had on the world, Bicentennial events have ranged from reflective moments focused on the history of the University’s storied campus in Hamilton, N.Y., to light-hearted parties filled will food, laughter, and discussions of how Colgate will continue to grow and flourish in the years ahead.
Last week, alumni gathered at Bicentennial birthday parties in Boston; Washington, D.C.; New York City; San Francisco; Chicago; and Philadelphia to celebrate their alma mater with friends and family.
In September, alumni were welcomed back to campus for an activity-packed Homecoming weekend replete with a symphony concert, fireworks, food trucks, historical lectures, and a special performance by Earth, Wind & Fire. An exhibition in the Clifford Art Gallery explored the history of architecture and planning at Colgate, and the University’s Special Collections and Archives shared a dynamic display of images taken in the Village of Hamilton from the 1890s to 1920s.
Colgate’s alumni of color gathered in October at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem to commemorate Colgate at 200 Years and celebrate the impact of its multicultural community. This was the first stop on a traveling celebration that is continuing on to 30 cities from coast to coast and around the world throughout the academic year.
“It was important that we begin in New York City, so here we are,” said President Brian W. Casey. “There is a shift happening. I hope that it is a shift to a Colgate that is more joyful, empathetic, graceful, welcoming, healing, confident, positive — more beautiful. That’s what we are celebrating tonight. It’s just a seed. Let’s hope that, during our third century, it grows into a magnificent tree.”
In November, Jewish alumni gathered at Shelsky’s of Brooklyn, a delicatessen owned by Peter Shelsky ’01, to discuss the recently-published Repression, Re-Invention, And Rugelach: A History Of Jews At Colgate.
Event attendee Lenard Marlow ’54, P’90 said that the Bicentennial celebrations have shown the strong affinity Colgate alumni have for their alma mater.
“Lots of people love their schools, but not like people love Colgate,” Marlow said. “I am very proud of this place. I couldn’t be prouder. I say this with a lot of experience, Colgate is the best it’s ever been.”
At the same event, former Colgate President Neil Grabois discussed a major University milestone that occurred during his tenure — the creation of the Michael Saperstein Jewish Center, a focal point for Jewish study, worship, and culture on our campus.
“It was a proud moment for Jewish students to have a place that was theirs. It felt to me that we were moving in a good direction,” Grabois said. “I’m also delighted to know [Colgate] is doing extremely well with a wonderful president. [Brian Casey] speaks as a person with a comfort level and forwardness that Colgate needs.”
A day later, in New York’s East Village, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the University’s LGBTQ studies program, and the increased student support now offered to those who identify as a member of the LGBTQ community.
“2019 is an important confluence of events. In the fall, LGBTQ Studies will be celebrating its 10th birthday at Colgate,” said Professor of Mathematics and LGBTQ Studies Ken Valente. “And this is just a wonderful opportunity to think about the past, the present, and the future of LGBTQ life, academic life, and student life at Colgate.”
On January 8, Colgate will host its 200th Professional Network event in New York City, with a panel titled, “Shaping the World: An Evening with Colgate Alumni Leaders.” On March 5, the University will host a series of special events commemorating the historic moment that Colgate received its charter from New York State.