Colgate University News Items of interest about the Colgate community Fri, 02 Oct 2015 13:52:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Students benefit from internship advice and access Thu, 01 Oct 2015 19:27:50 +0000 Emily Bradley ’10 stands with the press corps outside the White House

Emily Bradley ’10, pictured here during her internship with the White House press corps, recently returned to campus to give advice to students.

“Connect with a real live human being – be more than a piece of paper and a GPA.”

This was just one piece of advice offered by Emily Bradley Greenfield ’10, the keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Internship Banquet, hosted by the Center for Career Services (CCS) on September 29.

The banquet allowed first-year students and sophomores to sit down with upperclassmen, who were readily prepared to provide advice about how they landed their internships, catalog tricky questions they’ve encountered in interviews, and describe the day-to-day life of an intern.

The evening started off with a panel discussion, featuring Joe Aiken ’16, who interned at McMaster-Carr in Cleveland, Ohio; Carolina Batista ’17, who was an awareness programs intern for the Run for the Cure Foundation in Tokyo, Japan; Adam Basciano ’16, who interned for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C.; Samantha Beutler ’16, who was a public relations intern for the Food Network in New York, N.Y.; and Julia Yarrington ’16, who interned with McLean Franciscan Child/Adolescent Mental Health Programs in Boston, Mass. Following the panel, students and faculty broke off into small groups to share insight and ask questions.

Panelists represented both the impact of a great internship and the CCS aim to make such internships more accessible to the student body as a whole.

For the summer of 2015, CCS’s ever-growing summer funding program awarded 211 students grants to cover supplemental costs of their summer experiences, such as travel, housing, food, utilities, and commuting. These students, who created concise, thoughtful proposals, received an average award of $2,935. Career services offered an impressive total of $726,490, thanks to generous contributions from alumni and parents.

“Even with relatively stringent Department of Labor restrictions, many internships remain unpaid or underpaid,” said Shauna Hirshfield, internship coordinator at CCS. Often this renders internships, a valuable way for students to stand out to potential employers and graduate schools, “inaccessible for those who do not have the financial means to support themselves while pursuing the experience.”

These grants do not replace wages – instead they make it possible to take advantage of opportunities. The program has steadily grown since it was revamped in 2012. Between 2014 and 2015, applications increased 55 percent. For those who don’t receive funding, the application itself is a learning experience – students create budgets, work with airtight deadlines, and learn to craft a convincing proposal.

In addition to accepting offers across the country, this year, 31 students gained the financial means to explore interests outside of the United States. Colgate students were in workplaces in locales such as Tanzania, Vietnam, Uganda, Mexico, Korea, Thailand, and China.

The general CCS Internship Fund complements the variety of fellowships sponsored by individual alumni. These have been part of a longstanding dedication to support students in their internship exploration but they often have more specific guidelines for the field or student’s financial situation.

“Internships provide an essential ingredient to the power of a Colgate student’s education,” said Mike Sciola, associate vice president for advancement and director of career services. “Students gain insight, skills, and direction that they bring back to the classroom and that employers and graduate programs seek in top candidates. By ensuring all students have access to internship and summer research opportunities regardless of their financial needs, we empower all of our students toward success.”

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Helping refugees to new beginnings Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:12:07 +0000 Students pitched in to help Utica residents

Students pitched in to help Utica residents as part of a first-year pre-orientation program.

The news has been inundated with stories about refugees — in the United States and abroad. With a burgeoning refugee community in Utica (approximately one-fourth of the population is made up of refugee families), which is located less than 30 miles from the Colgate campus, students and professors are finding ways to help.

Utica Refugee Tutors, which operates under the umbrella of the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE), is a group dedicated to tutoring the children of Somali refugees. They visit the Mohawk Valley Somali Bantu Community Association once a week.

Also through COVE, members of the Class of 2019 got an early start on service learning with a pre-orientation program. In the days leading up to first-year orientation, eight volunteers teamed up to work with the Johnson Park Center in the Cornhill neighborhood, which is one of the city’s poorest and where many refugees live. They removed a broken part of the sidewalk in front of a resident’s house, and then laid down new stones. “It was hard work, but all of the volunteers were excited about it, and it was very rewarding to see the finished product,” said Maia Dinsmore ’17, a COVE leader.

Professors get involved, too: COVE also oversees a service-learning course-development grant program with the dean of the faculty office. Supported by the program, faculty members develop a service learning component for a class. The first recipient was Ryan Solomon, assistant professor in writing and rhetoric. He redesigned his CORE South Africa class to include work at the Somali Center, and students from his class went to South Africa for six weeks this summer.

Apart from the COVE, many professors, such as Jessica Graybill (geography), involve their classes in service learning with refugee populations. In her GEOG 311: Urban Geography, students investigate urban spaces, discover how different groups interact in and with a space, and engage in an electronic storytelling project to support marginalized populations, using Utica and its refugee population as a case study.

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Colgate joins Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Mon, 28 Sep 2015 18:02:29 +0000 Coalition

A world-class education has been a Colgate hallmark for nearly 200 years, and now the university aims to make this life-changing experience even more accessible thanks to joining the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success.

The new coalition brings together more than 80 public and private colleges and universities across the United States in an effort to streamline the college application process for all students, with an increased focus on helping those from underrepresented groups, including low-income and first-generation households.

Schools participating in the coalition are required to meet specific criteria designed to increase college affordability, access, and success for students from all backgrounds. Requirements include meeting full financial aid need of all domestic admitted students, and a six-year graduation rate of at least 70 percent (Colgate’s rate is 89.6 percent).

“Colgate has always met the full demonstrated financial need of admitted students. We are delighted to join with so many other colleges and universities that share the same principles,” said Gary Ross, Colgate vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. “In addition, the coalition includes only those colleges and universities that have graduation rates that demonstrate an overall commitment to students successfully completing their college or university experience in a timely way. As a practical matter, the coalition application will provide some online tools to all applicants, which may help reduce the stress associated with the college application process.”

The coalition’s free platform of online tools is designed to encourage early planning for high school students long before their senior year, and to help facilitate smoother financial aid applications. This new platform is slated to come online in January of 2016.

Colgate’s participation in the coalition also creates a third application option for prospective students, and the university will also continue to accept the Common Application and the Universal Application.

Colgate will begin accepting the new coalition application in the summer of 2016 for the Class of 2021. For more information, visit

Coalition FAQ

What is the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success?

The coalition represents more than 80 American higher education institutions that share a commitment to providing the best possible college experience, beginning with the college application process. Coalition schools offer an affordable education, promising low-cost, in-state tuition or to meet the full, demonstrated need of admitted domestic students. They also offer proven track records of student success, with graduation rates exceeding 70 percent at all coalition schools.

Which schools are members of the coalition?

A current list can be found here.

Will more schools join the coalition?

Absolutely! The coalition is open to further members, and the roster of schools will continue to grow.

What are the goals of the coalition?

The coalition was formed to improve the college application process for all students. For that reason, the coalition has designed and developed a system of online tools that will guide and support students throughout the process of finding a college home.

Who is leading the coalition?

The coalition is governed by a board of directors as well as a set of committees. Both groups are composed primarily of volunteers from coalition member schools.

Why now? What brought the coalition together?

A growing amount of research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they are entitled to. As a result, even some of the most highly qualified students do not attend college, attend colleges that do not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees. The coalition is developing a platform of tools to address these barriers and level the playing field for students from all backgrounds.

What is the coalition’s platform of tools?

The coalition is developing new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admissions and financial aid processes and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years. The platform tools — which will include a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform, and an application portal — seek to recast the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers, reducing the unfamiliarity of the application for all students.

Who created the technology behind the coalition platform?

The coalition has partnered with CollegeNET to produce their platform of tools. CollegeNET is a Portland-based technology developer with expertise in creating dependable, student-oriented programs and applications.

When will the coalition platform of tools be released?

The coalition portfolio and collaboration platform will be released in January 2016 for students to begin preparing materials for college. The coalition application will open in summer 2016.

What is the coalition portfolio?

The coalition portfolio is an immensely powerful tool for students to organize their personal goals and academic accomplishments as well as a platform to prepare materials for the college application process.

What is the coalition collaboration platform?

Eventually, the portfolio will also become a meeting place where counselors, teachers, and mentors can support the student’s college search and application through feedback and editing.  The collaboration platform will also allow students and counselors to quickly contact their partners at coalition schools, facilitating communication and eliminating confusion.

When will the portfolio and collaboration platform be released?

The portfolio and collaboration platform will be opened to all students in January 2016.

What is the coalition application?

The coalition application is a cutting-edge tool for applying to more than 80 coalition schools. The coalition application features a modern, intuitive interface that adapts to a student’s life, providing a seamless experience whether engaging through a notebook computer, tablet, or even their mobile devices. The application has been designed to minimize student stress, confusion, and intimidation while empowering universities to ask questions that will reveal students with the greatest fit for their campuses.

When will the coalition application be released?

The coalition application will open in summer 2016 to graduating seniors in high school.

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Fostering community through reading Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:25:58 +0000 How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America book coverAn interdisciplinary series of events kicks off this week, addressing themes raised in this year’s Colgate Community Reads book, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon.

Colgate Community Reads 2015 is intended to transform the traditional first-year summer reading assignment into a community-wide discussion, according to Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and director of the first-year seminar program for the 2014–15 academic year.

As has been the tradition, first-year students were mailed a copy of Laymon’s book during the summer. However, the entire student body, faculty, and staff are invited to read the text as well, similar to the Colgate Reads program from the 2013–14 academic year. Instead of discussing the text in first-year seminar classes as has been done in previous years, students are required to attend two of 17 events in a series that includes performances, film screenings, and lectures by scholars from around the country.

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America was selected after a campus committee considered approximately 50 titles nominated by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Last spring, it was one of three titles that were sent to the Colgate community for a vote. The other contenders — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric — also touched on themes discussed in Laymon’s book.

“Given the campus and national events of the last academic year, the committee could not ignore the issues regarding race, gender, and socioeconomic status that come into focus for so many,” Bary said.

Tiger Sullivan ’19 described the book as a “modern-day update on the status of race issues in America.” Laymon “gets straight to the point,” he added. “Racism is still very much alive; in fact, it never really went anywhere.”

With the fall semester now underway, faculty from various departments have invited renowned members of their fields to lead the events featured in the program series and to add to the community’s conversation.

Portrait of Kiese Laymon

Professor Kiese Laymon

The series will officially kick off tomorrow, September 24, with a brown bag luncheon led by poet Tracie Morris at the Center for Women’s Studies at 11:30 a.m. Later that day, she will give a lecture titled “The Literary Canon and African American Aesthetics in Poetry” in the Ho Lecture Room in Lawrence Hall at 4:30 p.m. On Friday, Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, will be speak on “Identity Matters: How Stereotypes Affect Where We Live, Study, and Play” as part of the Division of Natural Sciences colloquium at 3:30 p.m. in Love Auditorium.

Laymon, who is an English professor at Vassar College, will headline the series by giving a lecture in the chapel on October 27 at 7:30 p.m.

“I think it was a good book for Colgate to read as a community because it [will foster] a huge sharing of perspectives,” Sullivan said.


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University community gathers for candlelight vigil Tue, 22 Sep 2015 01:20:31 +0000 Chapel at nighttime

Photo by Andrew Daddio

A hush of mourning covered the academic quad this evening as the Colgate community gathered to grieve the deaths of first-year students Cathryn Depuy and Ryan Adams. The silence was punctuated by words of comfort, songs of hope, and 13 chimes from the chapel bell.

“Our lives are intertwined,” said Interim President Jill Harsin. “Some of those threads have been broken. The shape of our community will be different without those connections.”

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff climbed the hill to share their sorrow and remember two of the Colgate family’s newest members, killed shortly before 1:00 p.m. yesterday (Sunday, September 20) in a plane crash outside Morrisville, N.Y.

“This is where we look for answers,” Dean of the College Suzy Nelson told those gathered. “We are left with more questions than answers. There are many here who will offer support.”

Harsin and Nelson were joined on the chapel steps by Adams’s family, including his mother, Mary Lou Hanney ’82, who described her son as “a person of vast interests and talents — a person of unfailing character and integrity.”

Class of 2019 President Michael Vitale said, “I am overjoyed and proud that I had the God-given opportunity to meet, learn from, and become a better person through the shining symbols of compassion and empowering energy that Carey and Ryan brought into my life.”

Assistant music professor Ryan Endris, chapel music director Dianne McDowell, and the Colgate Chamber Singers provided music. By the glow of 2,000 candles, University Chaplain Mark Shiner closed the ceremony, inviting everyone to look around at the pinpoints of light, scattered across the quad.

“That is what learning to love each other looks like,” he said. “We leave in silence, but in hope. We will love and care for each other in these dark days.”

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Colgate community mourns loss of two students Sun, 20 Sep 2015 23:39:27 +0000 Colgate Memorial Chapel

The Colgate community is mourning tragic news that two students, Cathryn (Carey) Depuy ’19 and Ryan Adams ’19, both of Ridgefield, Conn., died Sunday afternoon in a plane crash in Morrisville, N.Y., after taking off from Hamilton Municipal Airport. No further details are available at this time.

For Colgate students affected by this difficult news, counseling center and chaplain’s office staff members will be available in Judd Chapel on the lower level of Memorial Chapel this evening. Monday, the counseling center will be open and available to Colgate students. As always, counseling is available to members of the faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program.

In light of this tragedy, some of Monday’s campus events will be postponed or cancelled. Please consult the campus calendar for updates.

A community vigil will be held at Colgate Memorial Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Monday evening.

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Fundraising grows by 13 percent in Fiscal Year 2015 Thu, 10 Sep 2015 18:37:35 +0000 Scenic photo of the Academic Quad

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Somewhere, Colgate’s 13 founders are smiling.

Those forward-looking benefactors, who launched a university with $13 and 13 prayers, would be proud to know that Colgate received $45.8 million for financial aid, academic programs, the arts, athletics, facilities, and more during Fiscal Year 2015. That is a lucky 13 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014. Another $22.2 million came in the form of pledges, bequest intentions, and other commitments.

“I want to thank the entire Colgate community for their commitment,” said Interim President Jill Harsin. “Working together, we continue to expand access for bright, ambitious students. We ensure that the opportunities they encounter here will shape their success long after graduation.”

It was a year of growth for many aspects of the university’s fundraising efforts. Giving to the annual fund increased by five percent over last fiscal year to $10.88 million, with a 20 percent increase in support for specific campus programs and initiatives. June was a particularly busy month as more than 1,700 alumni stepped forward to support Colgate undergraduates — a 27 percent increase over the same month in 2014.

“In my decades on campus, I have rarely seen the level of engagement and support that we enjoy today,” said Murray Decock ’80, senior vice president for external relations, advancement and initiatives. “There is an optimism about Colgate’s future that is driven by — and reflected in — the generosity and involvement of our alumni and parent community.”

Colgate’s leadership giving society, the Presidents’ Club, celebrated its 50th anniversary by setting a new record for membership: 3,747 alumni, parents, students, and friends. Alumni membership increased by five percent over Fiscal Year 2014 and recent grads (2005–2014) increased their participation by a remarkable 28 percent.

Parents gave to the tune of $5.2 million, rallying around internships and the Global Leaders Lecture Series. More than 460 parents became Presidents’ Club members, coming close to setting a new record for dollars raised through the Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund.

A total of $2.9 million came from the estates of 16 individuals who made the university a priority when planning their wills many years ago.

The university community was generous not only with its financial resources but also with its time and encouragement.

Last spring, more than 1,700 individuals logged acts of volunteerism during Colgate’s Day of Impact, sponsored by the Presidents’ Club. Throughout the year, alumni and parents worked through the Center for Career Services to offer internships, job shadowing opportunities, mentoring, and mock interviews for students. More than 60 percent of all alumni engaged with the university in some way — online or in person — during Fiscal Year 2015.

This year also brought praise from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The organization named Colgate a Platinum Winner of its Best Practices in Fundraising Campaigns for the Year of ’13 Challenge, which took place in Fiscal Year 2014.

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Welcome to the Machine Tue, 08 Sep 2015 19:54:24 +0000 The Machine Project

Machine Project is a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to helping artists do fun experiments together with the public. Project artists will be coming to Colgate’s campus and the Village of Hamilton throughout the semester to create an innovative series of community art projects.

Ten artists, performers, and innovators will visit Colgate and the Village of Hamilton throughout the fall semester to usher in a new experience in community-driven performance and display.

And they need your help.

Perfect Strangers: Machine Project and the Hamiltonians will unfold from the week of September 8 to November 13 on campus and at various sites throughout the village. Artists and performers from the Machine Project, a Los Angeles-based group, will visit Colgate as part of the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Visiting Artist-in-Residence.

Visiting artists will collaborate with university faculty and village residents to create and display immersive art installations.

The initiative, much like Revolutions Per Minute two years ago, continues Colgate’s long tradition of bringing innovative artists to campus and the Hamilton community. This will be the Machine Project’s first collaboration with an entire community.

Machine Project performers are planning efforts in which artists will work without a predetermined outcome or path for the artistic endeavor. For example, participating performers plan to:

  • Rewire old, obsolete, or broken devices to create new devices with new purposes that are not predetermined.
  • Create portraits of village residents in real time, to be displayed at different sites throughout the village.
  • Conduct a séance to try to conjure the spirit of John Vincent Atanasoff, the Hamilton native who is credited with inventing the digital computer.
  • Additional projects involve diverse skills such as welding, computer hacking, and raking leaves.

Colgate University’s participation in the project is being coordinated by DeWitt Godfrey, professor and chair in Colgate’s Department of Art and Art History, and Lynn Schwarzer, a professor of art and art history and film and media studies.

Upcoming Machine Project Events

The Never Been to Me Tour at Colgate University

Krystal Krunch

  • Thursday, September 10 at 7 p.m.
    Zen Den
  • Wednesday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m.
    Clifford Gallery

Computing With the Dead: Transmissions With the Inventor

Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain

  • Friday, September 11 at 8 p.m.
    Merrill House

I’d Rather Listen to a Bad Song

Adam Goldman ’94

  • Saturday, September 19 at 10 a.m.
    Homecoming tailgate, Andy Kerr Stadium
  • Monday, September 21 throughout the day
    Hamilton Center for the Arts
  • Tuesday, September 22 at 4:15 p.m.
    Colgate Center for Women’s Studies
  • Wednesday, September 23 at 7 p.m.
    Trivia Night at the Colgate Inn

Lecture: Adam Goldman ’94

  • Wednesday, September 23 at 4:30 p.m.
    Golden Auditorium

Poetry, Wit, and Wisdom: Taking the Pulse of Hamilton

Cliff Hengst

  • Monday, September 28 – Saturday, October 3
    Hamilton Center for the Arts

Notes for Hamilton

Mercedes Teixido

  • Monday, October 19 – Friday, October 23, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
    Colgate Campus

Lecture: Carmina Escobar with Chris Kallmyer

  • Wednesday, October 28 at 4:30 p.m.
    Golden Auditorium

Archive of Regional Raking

Chris Kallmyer

Performance in collaboration with Colgate Students

  • Thursday, October 29 at 6 p.m.
    100 Broad Street

Imenso Massagem Sonora

Carmina Escobar

  • Wednesday, October 28 – Friday, October 30, ongoing
    Hamilton Center for the Arts
  • Thursday, October 29, 3 – 5 p.m.
    Colgate Center for Women’s Studies

Lecture: Hanna van der Kolk

  • Wednesday, November 4 at 4:30 p.m.
    Golden Auditorium

Spaces Between Us/The In-between Spaces

Hana van der Kolk


  • Friday, November 6 at 8 p.m.
    Colgate Campus
  • Saturday, November 7 at 8 p.m.
    Colgate Campus

Open Archive, Hamilton NY

Kamau Patton

  • Tuesday, November 10 – Saturday, November 14, ongoing
    Hamilton Center for the Arts

Objects for Perfect Strangers

Michael O’Malley

  • Wednesday, September 9 – Friday, November 13, ongoing
    Clifford Gallery
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Expressions of hope launch first residential commons Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:31:38 +0000 Last week, with the arrival of the Class of 2019, Colgate launched its first residential commons. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Memorial Chapel on August 27 to commemorate the moment. Then, they joined in an open-house celebration at their newly renovated upper-campus residence: Curtis and Drake halls.

Faculty Co-director Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology, greeted students with these words.

I am so happy to be here with you tonight to celebrate the opening of our commons together. I have been looking forward to being with you here in this place for nearly a year.

I want to say something about why I agreed to serve as the faculty co-director for the first residential commons. I have worked as a professor of psychology at Colgate since 1999. I chose to teach at a place like Colgate, rather than a large research university, because I value community deeply; I went to a small liberal arts college myself, and I knew that these kinds of places are special because of their potential for creating strong and happy communities.

There are better and worse ways for communities and individuals to be happy, and I want only the best kinds of happiness for my students. So, I offered to serve as the faculty co-director with the hope that, together with a team of people, I could help create a community at Colgate that would enable students to be happy.

There is a whole field of research within psychology that investigates what promotes happiness. I believe that, if we go about creating our commons the right way, we will have three of the most key ingredients for happiness. First, the happiest people are the ones who are passionate about whatever they feel called to do in life. These are people who are not simply going through the motions of their day-to-day activities; rather they pour themselves fully into whatever they see as their purpose. In our commons, we will offer you opportunities to more fully engage in the intellectual life of Colgate, to help you figure out what ignites your own curiosity and passion.

Second, the happiest people are the ones who live in cultures that appreciate diversity and inclusion. In fact, the nations that rank highest for welcoming attitudes toward historically marginalized groups are among the happiest. We hope that our commons will be a place where everyone is valued and where everyone has a place.

Third and most important, the happiest people are the ones who have vibrant, committed relationships with people they care about. I cannot emphasize enough how critical this is; it is nearly impossible to be happy without these caring relationships. The most satisfied individuals have people they care for and who care about them. This is the greatest strength of our commons — we are building a community where you will grow lasting relationships with the people in your class year, with students in other class years, with the staff who work with you, and with your professors.

This is my hope for you: that we will work to build the happiest kind of community together.

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Faculty answer questions on science behind Iran nuclear deal Wed, 02 Sep 2015 12:00:28 +0000 President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lawmakers continue to deliberate the finer points of the Iran nuclear deal, and media outlets are publishing stories on a daily basis, using words like “isotope,” “centrifuge,” and “uranium enrichment.”

Colgate turned to a team of faculty to explain some of those words — and a bit of the science that is so critical to a serious debate of the issues surrounding the agreement.

What is an isotope?
The chemical properties of atoms and their grouping on the periodic table are determined by the number of electrons that typically surround their nuclei. For instance, atoms that have six electrons are atoms of carbon. Similarly, atoms that have eight electrons are oxygen atoms.

Atoms contain the same number of protons as electrons, ensuring that they are electrically neutral. These protons are found in the nuclei. In addition, the nuclei also contain neutrons. Since neutrons are neutral particles (they carry no charge), they do not affect the atom’s chemical properties. This means that a carbon atom can have a nucleus with six protons and six neutrons, or it can have a nucleus with six protons and eight neutrons. The first kind of carbon atom has a total of 12 particles in its nucleus. Not so surprisingly, scientists refer to this atom as carbon-12. The second kind of carbon atom has 14 nuclear particles, so it is called carbon-14. Carbon-14 makes up about one trillionth of all the carbon atoms in our atmosphere (almost all of the rest are carbon-12).

In both cases, the atoms are carbon atoms and both can be referred to as isotopes of carbon. Uranium has three naturally occurring isotopes: more than 99 percent of all natural uranium is uranium-238; almost all the rest is uranium-235, and there is also a trace amount of uranium-234. Other isotopes have been produced synthetically in nuclear reactors.

What is U-235, and why is it so special?
U-235 is one form of uranium, which differs from the more common form, U-238, because it has three fewer neutrons in its nucleus. The number of protons and neutrons in a nucleus affects its nuclear properties, just as the number of electrons in an atom affects its chemical properties. For example, there are “magic numbers” of nucleons that are particularly stable, just as there are numbers of electrons (such as those of the noble gases) that are particularly stable.

U-235 is special because, when it is hit by a neutron, it sometimes fissions (breaks apart), in the following process:

U-235 first absorbs the neutron and becomes U-236, which is unstable. It then quickly decays via fission into smaller lighter nuclei while releasing 2-3 neutrons plus energy. This energy released from the nucleus is huge: about 100,000 times more energy than is released in a chemical reaction. In addition, the released neutrons can go on to trigger more U-235 nuclei to fission. If enough U-235 nuclei are around, one can have a self-sustained chain reaction that releases energy continuously.

U-235 is less than 1 percent of the uranium found in nature. In order to sustain a nuclear reaction, it’s normally necessary to increase the fraction to 3–5 percent; otherwise the neutrons that are released by one fission event are unlikely to reach another U-235 nucleus to create another fission event. The ratio must be even higher (normally 85 percent) to make a nuclear bomb, and that is why a nuclear reactor can never explode like a nuclear bomb.

Can you just dig up uranium?
Uranium is a naturally occurring element found in many rocks and minerals. However, it is very rare in most places, typically not more than a few parts per million of a rock or soil. (Even in these low concentrations, we often suffer from its effects: one of the products of uranium decay is radon, whose radioactivity is an important environmental danger in some parts of the United States.) Like other rare elements (e.g., tin, silver, gold), geological processes within the Earth can concentrate uranium into ores which are rich enough to mine.

What is a centrifuge and how does it work?
A centrifuge is basically a spinning tube. Spinning a mixture of fluids helps separate them on the basis of their mass, and so, for example, blood samples are often centrifuged to separate blood cells from plasma. For uranium, a centrifuge is one way to separate the fissile U-235 from the much more common U-238. Since both isotopes have common chemical properties (they are isotopes of the same element), separating them by mass is the most straightforward way to purify (or “enrich”) U-235.

You can make a bomb from uranium or plutonium. How do you make plutonium?
Plutonium can be made by bombarding uranium with neutrons. While neutrons make U-235 split apart (fission), neutrons combine with U-238, increasing their mass by one unit to U-239. This nucleus is unstable, and two neutrons quickly decay into protons and eject electrons, creating an atom of plutonium-239. Like U-235, Pu-239 is fissile, and so can be used for a bomb (or for a nuclear power reactor, but this use has been banned since the Carter administration as a non-proliferation measure).

What is a reactor core and what’s inside?
A reactor is simply a place designed so as to encourage a particular reaction. For chemists, this could be a crucible or a test tube. For nuclear reactors, the three essential ingredients are neutrons (which can easily penetrate and change an atomic nucleus), target nuclei for the neutron to react with, and a moderator. Like in a television talk show, the job of the moderator is to facilitate the interaction between the other parties. Here, that generally means slowing down the neutrons, so that they are more likely to be absorbed by the target nuclei. The first nuclear reactor used graphite as the moderator, and basically looked like a pile (that was exactly what Enrico Fermi called it) of pencil-lead rods doused with uranium. It’s more common nowadays to use water as the moderator, so reactor cores are typically at the bottom of what look like swimming pools. One final element is control rods, which absorb neutrons. They can be moved in or out of the reactor to stabilize the reaction.

What’s a heavy water reactor? Is there a light water reactor?
Heavy water and light water are commonly used as moderators in reactors. Most reactors are, in fact, light water reactors. “Heavy” and “light” refer to the isotope of hydrogen in the water; light water uses the much more common hydrogen-1 (two atoms of this, and one oxygen make the H2O), and heavy water is made from hydrogen-2, a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen that sometimes does business as “deuterium.”

In reactors, the purpose of the water is the same as in your car’s radiator–it carries heat away from the reaction. And just as the hot water from the radiator can be used to heat the air in the car’s passenger compartment, the hot water in the reactor can be used to produce steam, which then produces electricity by turning a turbine, just as in a coal or natural gas power plant. But the water also has another purpose–it serves as the moderator of the reaction, slowing down the neutrons. U-235 will only absorb slow neutrons, so fast neutrons must be slowed down (moderated) to trigger a fission reaction.

The problem is that water also has one more effect: light water (regular water) is a good neutron absorber. With all this loss of neutrons in the coolant, in order for the reaction to be sustained, U-235 must be enriched (see “What’s U-235 and why is it so special?”). The advantage of a heavy water reactor is that heavy water doesn’t absorb neutrons, so these reactors, such as the CANDU reactors in Canada, can operate with unenriched uranium.

How did we figure all of this out in the first place?
Like so much of our technology, the development of nuclear fission reactors was made possible by fundamental research driven by scientific curiosity. In 1911, when Ernest Rutherford set his student Eric Marsden to measure whether any alpha particles bounced off a thin sheet of gold instead of passing through, he was not expecting to see any results at all. He was simply being a careful experimentalist, measuring the scattering at all angles. He was shocked by the result, writing, “It was as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.” His careful analysis led to the discovery of the atomic nucleus.

Rutherford’s discovery helped in the reinterpretation of earlier work, such as his earlier discovery that radioactive elements can decay into new elements. And once the nucleus was discovered, in 1913 Henry Moseley determined that it is the charge of the nucleus that determines the properties of the atom. But there was still uncertainty about what made the masses of some nuclei different from others — many believed that the nucleus contained both protons and electrons, with the electrons partially canceling the protons’ charge.

In 1932, James Chadwick discovered the neutron and measured its mass, and this discovery was critical to the discovery of nuclear fission, (although he didn’t know that it would be!) The work of Marie and Pierre Curie was equally critical. Their careful studies determined which atoms were radioactive. Their daughter Irene Joliot-Curie, with Frederic Joliot, discovered that elements could be made radioactive if they were bombarded by nuclear particles. Nils Bohr and Albert Einstein set additional important theoretical groundwork. Then, in 1938, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission, which was then explained by Lise Meitner. Physicists around the world who learned of this discovery quickly realized its potential as both an energy source and a weapon. At this point, the research transformed from “fundamental” to “applied” as nations raced to harness its potential.

I wouldn’t know a nuclear device from a toaster oven. What does an atom bomb look like?
Well, if you housed it inside a toaster oven, then it might look a lot like a toaster oven. Although it would be tough to fit it inside such a small package, because there are a lot of parts inside that all have to work together perfectly for it to explode. (That’s why the Manhattan Project involved 130,000 people for 6 years at a cost of about $26 billion in 2015 dollars.) At the core of a bomb is a chunk of plutonium or highly enriched uranium. In order to detonate the bomb, the uranium must be compressed by a spherical arrangement of conventional explosives.

Answers provided by:
Jonathan Levine, assistant professor of physics and astronomy
Beth Parks, associate professor of physics and astronomy
Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy
Enrique Galvez, Charles A. Dana Professor of physics and astronomy

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$10 million from Robert Fox ’59 gives rise to $27 million financial aid partnership Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:10:03 +0000 Robert Fox ’59

Robert Fox ’59

Robert Fox ’59 has been a leader, mentor, and friend to many people at Colgate and beyond. So when he invested $10 million in financial aid at his alma mater last July, others were quick to trust his wisdom and join the Fox Partnership.

Keen to sustain the momentum of financial aid fundraising at Colgate, Fox offered his gift as inspiration. Ultimately, 26 partners each invested a minimum of $250,000. They amassed a total of nearly $27 million in just 12 months, in some cases directing their support to financial aid for the first time.

As a student-athlete, Fox broke swim-team records while holding down campus jobs that included cleaning the pool, lifeguarding, and various room-and-board assignments. After Colgate, he earned an MBA from Harvard and went on to serve as CEO of seven companies and sit on dozens of boards.

At a dinner held recently in his honor, Fox told guests, “I’ve had a great life, and it happened because I went to Colgate. I was only able to be there because of financial aid.”

Fox, now 78 and mostly retired, knows his gift will impact hundreds of lives while also raising awareness for the impact of financial aid. “Financial aid can enable students to live their lives to their full potential,” he said.

Every one of the Fox partners expresses love and gratitude for Colgate. Of the 26 partners, 16 have sent one or more of their children to Colgate. Fourteen graduated in the 1980s, and there are three Colgate couples.

At Colgate, where the average aid award in 2015–2016 was $46,602, Fox Partnership proceeds will go a long way, especially when combined with the $142 million raised for financial aid during the university’s recent Passion for the Climb campaign and the $45 million raised in the two years since.

The partnership total includes $11.77 million in estate and life-income arrangements and $15.05 million in cash — it also provides ongoing incentive for others to support Colgate’s financial aid program in years to come.

“Financial aid ensures not only access and socioeconomic diversity, it also widens the pipeline for the best and brightest students,” said Murray Decock ’80, senior vice president for external relations, advancement, and initiatives. “Access is a passport to opportunities, achievement, and career fulfillment. Thanks in large measure to Bob Fox and his partners, the word is out that Colgate is more accessible than ever, and counselors are now steering an ever-more diverse group of students to our campus.”

Colgate’s Fox Partners:


Brion ’76 & Sabrina Applegate P’18

David ’68 & Christine Brode

John ’84 & Barbara Brunjes

Francis ’85 & Susan ’86 Collins P’15

Jean-Pierre Conte ’85

Sally Moran Davidson ’84 & Robert Davidson P’13

Charles Evarts ’53

Alan ’63 & Jean Heuer P’91, ’99

Christopher ’81 & Becky ’81 Hurley P’12, ’12

Paul ’60 & Barbara Jenkel P’89

Peter ’65 & Maria Kellner P’87 GP’16, ’19

Margaret Simonetti ’80 & Michael Kelly

Michael ’80 & Elizabeth Klein P’18

Duncan ’81 & Alison Niederauer

David ’82 & Jennifer ’82 Rea

Gary ’85 & Deborah Shedlin P’19

Josef ’72 & June Silny

Andrew ’93 & Alexis Sweet

Thomas Weidemeyer ’69

Robert ’55 & Susan Youker P’87

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Studying the effects of immigration on U.S. workforce Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:30:17 +0000 Colgate University economics professor Chad Sparber

Photo by Andrew Daddio

The immigration debate has caused concern that foreign workers could out-compete U.S.-born applicants, reduce wages, and even discourage Americans from seeking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Using a $128,640 grant from the National Science Foundation, Associate Professor of Economics Chad Sparber and faculty from four colleges will study the impact that foreign-born workers with advanced degrees have on wages and employment at U.S. firms.

For years, firms have used the federal H-1B program to hire highly educated immigrants, who usually have backgrounds in STEM fields. The U.S. government grants a temporary work permit, allowing firms to tap a labor force that for years has helped to foster innovation, which generates positive effects on wage and employment growth, according to Sparber.

“These are the types of workers responsible for creating new growth-promoting technologies that create positive spillovers into other sectors of the economy,” he said. “Think about all the technologies that help us do our jobs more effectively that didn’t exist ten years ago — many of those advancements would not have been possible without H-1B workers.”

But others worry over the potential drawbacks of using foreign workers. The project will examine these issues. Research has begun by examining data that are free and open to the public. But information on wages, profits, employment, and expenses at firms is confidential and available only through the U.S. Census Bureau. Access requires visiting any of the 19 Research Data Centers across the nation.

“This grant allows us to do more ambitious work — helping to support travel required for accessing restricted-use data, for example,” Sparber said. “We would not be able to do this project without NSF support.”

Through the years, experts who studied migration focused on illegal immigration or workers with high school degrees or lesser education. Personnel with advanced degrees were largely ignored.

“Many people were missing the fact that foreign-born workers also make up a sizable portion of the U.S. labor force with a bachelor’s degree or more education,” Sparber said.

“The foreign-born share of workers with a graduate degree has grown from about eight percent in 1970 to twenty percent today,” he said. “Immigrants were responsible for seventy-seven percent of the STEM employment growth between 1990 and 2000 and more than half of the total growth from 2000 to 2010. It is really interesting — and important — to ask how those trends and figures are affecting the broader economy.”

The grant will fund their work for two years. But, said Sparber, a project isn’t finished until the papers are published: “In economics, the time between the inception of an idea and the publication of a paper can last several years. It is hard to say how long this project will take, but it is the top research priority for everyone on the team.”

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New ColgateX online course: Medicating for Mental Health Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:32:22 +0000 A portrait of Scott Kraly

Scott Kraly, Charles A. Dana Professor of psychology (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

“It is highly likely that you, a member of your family, or a close friend will face the decision of whether to use a medication to treat a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Do you have the skills and knowledge to participate in the decision to use a drug as therapy?”

That is the opening paragraph for Medicating for Mental Health: Judicious Use of Psychiatric Drugs, a new online course on ColgateX, launching on August 26.  The instructor is Scott Kraly, Charles A Dana Professor of Psychology.

The course already has more than 3,000 registrants from 121 countries. Participants will learn how to be effective collaborators with physicians, psychiatrists, or psychologists.

Watch Professor Kraly preview the course below:

The course is a continuation of Kraly’s research, featured in the Summer 2013 issue of the Colgate Scene and in his book, Psychopharmacology Problem Solving: Principles and Practices to Get It Right.

This free interactive ColgateX course offers participants a chance to acquire confidence that a psychiatric medication can improve  symptoms while minimizing the risk of side effects.


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Campus welcomes the Class of 2019 Mon, 24 Aug 2015 20:06:36 +0000 A family unpacks on arrival day, August 23, as the Class of 2019 joins the campus community.

A family unpacks on arrival day, August 23, as the Class of 2019 joins the campus community. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Waiting in line for arrival day registration Sunday, Alex Valdez ’19, of Ontario, Calif., and Enrique Nunez ’19, of San Antonio, Texas, said they became friends during this year’s First-Generation Initiative orientation.

“I decided to come here partly because of the beauty of the campus, and because of what I learned about the rigorous classes,” said Valdez, who added that his visit finalized that decision. “When I came for April Visit Days, everyone was totally welcoming.”

Nunez and Valdez are two of the 781 enrolled students in the bicentennial Class of 2019, which is the first to have the option of joining Colgate’s new residential commons, a living-and-learning community established to connect some of the university’s most talented professors with students’ out-of-class experience. Led by Professor Rebecca Shiner and University Chaplain Mark Shiner, the 200 commons participants live in Curtis Hall and Drake Hall, take first-semester seminars together, and will be connected to a Broad Street house for all four years.

“The residential commons is our way of living the liberal arts, where students live in a welcoming and vibrant community that offers a range of social, recreational, and intellectual opportunities,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson. “It also offers a central gathering place that binds together the people who live in areas that surround it. I see this as less of a change, and more of Colgate just becoming better at being Colgate.”

Along with being the first to take part in the new residential commons, first-generation students in the Class of 2019 have a new support system specifically designed to help foster a smooth transition to college.

“The initiative provides a two-day pre-orientation for first-generation students to become acclimated to campus, while building relationships with their peer mentors and creating a growing sense of community within their cohort,” said Drea Finley ’13, assistant dean for administrative advising and director of the First Generation Initiative.

The new scholars program will provide continued support for first-generation students throughout the academic year in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), the university’s long-standing scholars program for students who have overcome significant challenges on their path to Colgate. As sister programs, both OUS and the First Generation Initiative are dedicated to enhancing the academic and social experiences of their students. 

Additional pre-orientation programs include Wilderness Adventure and international student orientation as well as preparation for participation in activities such as community outreach, Maroon-News, WRCU Radio, Raider Pep Band, Masque and Triangle student theater, and religious life.

Twins Iona ’19 and Mey McLean ’19, of Washington, D.C., said they looked at a lot of larger schools before changing their focus to finding a small liberal arts institution.

“We visited 22 schools before deciding on Colgate,” said Iona, who performs in a drum and bass duo with her sister called the McLean Twins. While both are undecided about a major, they said they are thrilled with the limitless possibilities ahead.  “I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m excited to find out.”

Arrival Day for the class of 2019

Arrival day photo gallery by Andrew Daddio.


International Student orientation for the class of 2019

International Student Orientation photo gallery by Linh Lee ’18.


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Colgate University Names Brian W. Casey as 17th President Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:30:48 +0000 Portrait of Brian W. Casey

Brian W. Casey of DePauw University will serve as Colgate’s 17th President, beginning July 1, 2016. (Photo by Duncan Wolfe)

Colgate University’s Board of Trustees has named Brian W. Casey, the president of DePauw University, as Colgate’s 17th president.

Casey, who has a distinguished history with America’s top academic institutions as both a student and an administrator, said: “I am truly excited to begin my service at Colgate. I have long admired the academic excellence, rich traditions, and spirit of the university. Colgate is a distinctive institution in the American higher education landscape, with a unique scale and atmosphere. The university is also marked by a dedication to the achievement of excellence. Throughout the search process, I encountered members of the community committed to moving Colgate — even more than it is today — into the very highest ranks of American colleges and universities. To achieve that, I know I will be building on the work of the faculty, the leadership of the Colgate board, and the profound support of the university’s alumni. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.” He will take office on July 1, 2016.

“Colgate is incredibly fortunate to have attracted such an experienced, proven, and nationally recognized leader as our 17th president,” said board chair Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86, P’17. “Throughout the search process, Brian displayed a deep understanding of all aspects of Colgate while exhibiting great respect and admiration for what makes the institution profoundly unique and excellent. He possesses a strong creative vision, coupled with an extraordinary record of collaborative leadership. I have no doubt that Brian will be embraced by the entire community and undoubtedly enhance Colgate’s strengths while effectively addressing various challenges.”

Search chair Michael Herling ’79, P’08,’10,’12, said, “The entire search committee is thrilled that Brian has agreed to join us as Colgate’s next president. Brian embodies all the characteristics and competencies that we hoped to find in the ideal candidate. In addition, we believe that his fit with Colgate and his understanding of Colgate’s distinctive strengths is truly compelling.”

“Brian was our unanimous first choice,” said search committee member Douglas Johnson, associate professor of psychology and director of Colgate’s Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research. “He recognizes the opportunities and challenges facing higher education, and he persuasively argues that academic excellence is the cornerstone of Colgate’s future. A strong supporter of faculty, he understands that the symbiotic relationship between teaching and scholarship is the bedrock of that excellence. Brian is a great unifier and creative leader — thoughtful, conversational, connected, and intellectual. He combines a sense of wonderment with a practical, analytical, and realistic understanding of how institutions of higher education operate. He will be a welcome addition to the Colgate family.”

Experienced Academic Leader

Born and raised in New Jersey, Casey earned a BA in philosophy and economics at the University of Notre Dame, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude. Casey went on to earn his JD from Stanford University Law School, where he graduated with honors. After beginning his career as an attorney with the Wall Street firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, Casey earned his PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University.

As a former captain of Notre Dame’s varsity swim team and the school’s 1985 “Scholar-Athlete of the Year,” Casey recognizes and appreciates the fine balance between academics and athletics.

He is known for relating well with students. “I had many conversations with students who wanted an energetic, visible, and involved president,” said Joanna Howe ’16, one of three student representatives on the search committee. “Brian encompasses exactly what we were looking for in a campus leader. He has a contagious energy, and his genuine care for students and student life is obvious. I was especially impressed when he told me he gets up and does morning practice with the swim team, and that he has dinners with students at his house and an open door policy for students to come talk to him. I’m so excited to welcome him!”

Prior to his appointment at DePauw in 2008, Casey served as associate dean for academic affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, leading faculty recruitment and development, as well as strategic academic planning.

Previously, as assistant provost at Brown University, he spearheaded a multidisciplinary approach to the study of commerce and entrepreneurship. He was a key figure in efforts to develop academic programs with Brown’s neighbor, the Rhode Island School of Design. He also helped to develop an international seminar that brought together faculty, students, and visiting fellows involved in the study of America’s past, across the departments of history, English, American civilization, anthropology, and Africana studies, and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America.

As DePauw’s president, Casey has led an intense, comprehensive, and successful period of growth through DePauw 2020: The Plan for DePauw, a multi-year strategic plan for the university. He also led efforts to develop a comprehensive campus master plan, and, with the faculty, established a new general education curriculum. Under his leadership, DePauw has made major investments in academic programs, campus projects, student advising and postgraduate planning, as well as DePauw’s home city, Greencastle, Ind., and established and secured more than $56 million for The DePauw Trust, a dedicated endowment to support need-based financial aid.

To support student outcomes, Casey directed the creation of DePauw’s Hubbard Center for Student Engagement, a centralized home for comprehensive advising for off-campus study, internships, career planning, and pre-professional and graduate school preparation.

Less than a year after the October 2014 public launch of The Campaign for DePauw, the university had raised more than $220 million toward a $300 million goal. Casey has also led DePauw through six straight years of balanced budgets and saw a 51 percent increase in its endowment since 2008.

The Search Process

The board’s approval of Casey’s appointment followed his selection by a committee — 11 trustees, five faculty members, three current students, and a member of Colgate’s senior leadership team — that was formed in early February 2015, after former President Jeffrey Herbst announced that he would conclude his tenure at Colgate at the end of June 2015.

“The search process, with the great assistance of our colleagues at Spencer Stuart who facilitated thoughtful campus and alumni conversations, yielded an incredibly deep and talented pool of candidates,” said Herling. “It was clear to all of us that Brian rose to the top in every way, which made our decision a very easy one. I want to thank our committee members, who worked tirelessly through a very aggressive time schedule, particularly this summer, to reach this great outcome.”

“I am confident that Brian’s passion and enthusiasm for the liberal arts generally, and Colgate specifically, will be welcomed by the entire community when he joins the university next July,” said Hurwitz. “He will lead an institution with an unwavering commitment to the intrinsic value of a liberal arts education and a strong desire to nurture a living and learning environment responsive to the needs of a new generation of increasingly diverse students. In the meantime, Colgate is in excellent hands with Interim President Jill Harsin for the 2015–16 academic year.”

“I’m very pleased with the selection of Brian Casey as Colgate’s next president,” said Harsin. “I look forward to working with him over the next year to ensure a smooth transition while advancing our strategic priorities.”

“In this year of transition, I look forward to working with Interim President Harsin, members of the board, senior administrators, and the Colgate faculty to learn all I can about Colgate and to develop — with all these groups — a robust path forward for the institution,” said Casey. “I also look forward to joining the Hamilton community and, in the months ahead, to visiting campus and meeting as many faculty members and students as possible.”

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