President’s Message

Summer 2019

Cover of Third Century Plan bookI write this column in the busy days after a remarkable Bicentennial All-Class Reunion, which brought close to 5,000 guests to Colgate’s campus. During the weekend, I had the great opportunity to speak to the gathered alumni about Colgate’s Third-Century Plan.

In the coming months, and briefly in this issue, we will highlight the details of this plan. If you wish to read the full document or an executive summary now, you will find them at In this short column, I will offer a few words about this plan, as well as offer some updates on other campus activities. There is a lot happening at Colgate.

Prior to the development of the Third-Century Plan, with the Board of Trustees and the faculty, the University made a commitment to be carbon neutral by the time Colgate celebrated its Bicentennial. I was happy to announce on Earth Day that Colgate reached that goal, becoming the first college or university in New York State to achieve carbon neutrality. The Office of Sustainability published its annual report last spring, noting that Colgate released a net 4,418 metric tons of CO2, or 1.5 tons per student, in 2018. That is a reduction of 72.9 percent since 2009, when Colgate made its long-term carbon neutral commitment. Colgate’s community garden now produces 4,800 pounds of food per year, which is distributed in the community and used in our own dining halls. Further, the University’s forested lands sequestered 3,776 tons of carbon. Guided by a campus committee, Colgate now purchases a small number of carbon offsets to make up the difference.

As the sustainability staff members were collecting these data this year, Benton Hall was opening its doors. The home of career services and the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships, Benton Hall was designed to LEED Platinum specifications and is currently operating at unexpected levels of efficiency. Actual steam usage is 10.8 percent less than building models predicted. Those same models predicted electricity usage at six times greater than actual consumption.

Burke Hall and Jane Pinchin Hall, Colgate’s newest residence halls, are also designed to meet high sustainability standards. These halls reflect the architectural heritage of campus and respect the environment, even as they advance the Residential Commons system. (Read more about the residence halls here.)

Across campus, the University continues its Bicentennial tree-planting initiative. Colgate has planted more than 150 trees to date on the academic and residential quadrangles and along the hill near Case-Geyer Library. Local species have been selected for their resilience and biodiversity. More than half of these trees have been planted through the generosity of alumni, parents, and friends in honor of significant events and important individuals in their lives. (As just one example of this outpouring of support, during the Bicentennial All-Class Reunion, the Alumni Of Color organization celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ALANA Cultural Center by planting a tree in front of Olin Hall.)

Shortly before the tree dedication ceremony, I presented Colgate’s Third-Century Plan to the alumni community in Memorial Chapel. This plan, in addition to setting a long-term course for Colgate, outlines a series of initial steps designed to guide Colgate as it pursues its mission at the highest possible level. Several of these initiatives will transform and enhance the campus.

Among those first initiatives is the development of the middle campus — the area below the Academic Quad that contains James C. Colgate Student Union, Dana Arts Center, Little Hall, Ryan Studio, and the library. The plan for middle campus will transform this disparate set of buildings, several in need of significant renovation and renewal, into a new, cohesive academic neighborhood. There, we will assemble faculty, staff, and students in music, theater, dance, the visual arts, film studies, computer science, anthropology and archaeology, and entrepreneurship. It will also house the University’s many collections, including those from the Picker Art Gallery and the Longyear Museum of Anthropology.

Colgate’s new Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative, funded through a generous $15 million gift from Robert H.N. Ho ’56, H’11, will support an expansion of Olin Hall. The renovation will provide an opportunity to, once again, steward current campus structures in a way that both expands their capacity for sustainability and reengineers their layout for interdepartmental collaboration.

The Third-Century Plan reinforces Colgate’s commitment to sustainability, amplifies the importance of creativity and innovation in the academic experience, and will secure the University’s place as a leading American institution. The autumn edition of Colgate Magazine will go into more depth on these and other elements within the Third-Century Plan. Until then, know that the campus is being made more beautiful, sustainable, and relevant in our complex world.