(Above photo by Mark DiOrio)
What a week
The campus was buzzing with activity September 24–October 2 with A Celebration of Colgate — a series of events in honor of the Inauguration of President Brian W. Casey — and the dedication of the new Class of 1965 Arena as the highlight of Homecoming 2016.
An inauguration for the ages
Within the historic precincts of Memorial Chapel, the community looked forward to a bright and exciting future during the inauguration of Brian W. Casey as Colgate’s 17th president on September 30.
Hundreds of well-wishers packed the chapel for the ceremony. Jill Harsin, former interim president and history professor; Matthew Swain ’17, president of the Student Government Association; Thomas Cruz-Soto, associate dean of campus life and director of the ALANA Cultural Center; and Hamilton Town Supervisor Eve Ann Shwartz all offered words of welcome to Casey. Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86, P’17’20, chair of the Board of Trustees, presented Casey with the University Key, and Connie Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and English professor, handed the faculty gavel to him.
By special request from Casey, Peter Balakian, recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and Colgate’s Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing, delivered a five-part poem he wrote especially for the occasion.
In his “welcome from the academy,” Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College, praised Casey’s energy, wisdom, and commitment to the liberal arts.
Casey himself spoke of his awe and great respect for liberal arts college campuses as places set apart — one of America’s best settings where we expect great things to happen.
“There has always been — present in our quieter, deeper notions of a college — the belief that the essential work of the academy was a good in itself, necessary. That the gathering of faculty and students, engaged in the difficult work of the pursuit of truth, the mastery of a field, was by its very nature essential to our culture.
“The great liberal arts college assumed that encountering profound ideas, meeting the sublime on quiet campuses, offered one perspective. And it was thought that character developed on a campus would teach one how to live a life marked by knowledge, even wisdom. This was always the virtue of the campus.”
As a benediction, the presidents of Colgate’s student religious and spiritual communities offered blessings from their traditions.
Inauguration Week kicked off with a community picnic on the Village Green celebrating two centuries of town-gown collaboration on September 24 — the 199th anniversary of the legendary meeting in Hamilton of 13 men who offered $13 and 13 prayers to found the institution that would become Colgate. Early Hamiltonians contributed $6,000 to help secure the institution’s establishment in their hometown.
Inauguration Poem for Brian W. Casey
By Peter Balakian
(excerpt, from part four of five)
We bless you under the signs
Athena and Hermes.
We hug you to the beautiful
of knowledge and pedagogy —
the heart of our insistence that liberal
education remains the human process
that keeps civilization glued together.
Welcome to our pit of many discourses
the dense green hills of
our syntax, our paradigms and labs of discontent —
our babel of disbelief.
We are a mad lot
of scholars, artists, writers up on metaphysical bennies
and other speedballs of intractable force —
We believe in the classroom
as the playing out of the social
and intellectual life of our nation —
Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian is Colgate’s Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing. Balakian wrote a poem for the occasion, upon Casey’s request. Find it on the inauguration page.
Colgate In Discussion
Inauguration Week panels of Colgate experts considered topics of interest to the institution and the community.
The Media and Communications in the 21st Century
“We try to shed light in dark places.”
— Jeff Fager ’77, executive producer of 60 Minutes, former chairman of CBS News
Fager’s panel colleagues were Howard Fineman ’70, global editorial director, AOL Huffington Post Media Group; Goldie Blumenstyk ’79, senior writer and editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education; Amanda Terkel ’04, political reporter, politics managing editor, Huffington Post; and Alicia Simmons, assistant professor of sociology. Tim Byrnes, Charles A. Dana Professor of political science, moderated.
Colgate’s History: Reflections on the Past and Future
“There was a movement over the years toward a more liberal Christian civic religion and that, to the institution’s credit, gave our approach to a liberal arts education (thanks to Core 17 and 18 and its predecessors) a kind of moral dimension that I haven’t seen at other colleges and universities.”
— James Allen Smith ’70, director of research, Rockefeller Archive Center, and author of a forthcoming history of Colgate University
Smith was joined by President Brian W. Casey; Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the classics; Jennifer Hull, assistant professor of history and bicentennial fellow; and Mel Watkins ’62, Colgate NEH Professor of the humanities in the Department of English. Jill Harsin, professor of history and chair of Colgate’s Bicentennial Committee, moderated.
Cultivating Community Leaders: From the Local to the Global
“Push students to think deeply, to talk about their experiences and share it with someone else. Why was it meaningful? How did it shape you?”
— Ayanna K. Williams ’08, a health care policy professional at The Lewin Group, who, as a student, helped to write the selection criteria and charter for the National Abolition Hall of Fame in nearby Peterboro, N.Y., as an Upstate Institute Summer Fellow
The other panelists included Roger Ferlo ’73, president of the Bexley Seabury Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship; Mark Golden H’14, CEO of Golden Artist Colors in nearby New Berlin, N.Y.; Peter A. Dunn, president of the Central New York Community Foundation; Katie Redford ’90, co-founder and director of EarthRights International; and Jo Kroes Randell ’91, director of development, Sustain for Life. Ellen Percy Kraly, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of geography and former director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute, moderated.
Colgate On Screen
Inauguration filmmaker series
Colgate professor Penny Lane, director 2016, 79 minutes
Who Killed the Electric Car
Chris Paine ’83, director
2016, 79 minutes
Lalee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton
Xan Parker ’92, associate producer
2001, 89 minutes
Under African Skies
Joe Berlinger ’83, director
2012, 108 minutes
Rod Blackhurst ’02, director
2016, 89 minutes
You can watch many of the Inauguration Week events via Colgate’s Livestream archive, and read more about President Casey here.
A homecoming for the books
The highlight of Homecoming Weekend 2016 — with the Raiders hosting nine athletic contests in two days — was the grand opening and dedication of the new Class of 1965 Arena. Members of the class, along with more than 2,500 other fans, were on hand for the first games in the Steven J. Riggs ’65 Rink, where women’s hockey defeated New Hampshire, 4–2 (their second win at Riggs Rink), and men’s hockey tied Army, 2–2.
“I believe this new facility empowers all of us. It’s something that all coaches and student-athletes can rally behind, not just the six programs that are in this building, but the broader community as well. It enhances the pride in all of us… This beautiful Class of 1965 Arena and Steven J. Riggs ’65 Rink will help set a new standard of pride and excellence in everything that we do. It will inspire all of us to work harder every day and bring home more championships, which is what we aspire to do every day.”
— Head Men’s Hockey Coach Don Vaughan
Read the story of Steven J. Riggs ’65.