Academic rigor is a guiding north star of this University. It is a founding principle, a point of distinction that has seen this University through two centuries. It will also guide us through the dynamism of our present day. You cannot claim to be an excellent university without having the pursuit of academic excellence as a condition of every day, a guide to every decision.

While a commitment to scholarly excellence has been ever-present on this campus, its form has necessarily evolved with new discoveries — with disciplines, pedagogy, and the needs of society. This edition of Colgate Magazine invites you into Colgate classrooms for a sample — a reminder — of the breadth of the University’s course offerings as they engage the undergraduate of today.

Students of Russian culture, who traveled to former Soviet republics during their undergraduate days in the 1960s or to Moscow itself at any point in the last several decades, will note that Colgate continues to offer courses that explore the history, culture, and identity of that country. But faculty members are careful to look at its Tsarist period and its Cold War identity, as well as its present incarnation: a country that can disrupt global food and energy markets in its pursuit of violent expansion. 

Similarly, the course catalog still features classes on biology and virology, but professors today apply a multidisciplinary perspective to these fields by asking students to consider disease spread as a kind of social network. The same approach can be applied to topics in the social sciences. Colgate students study music as soundscapes, interconnected with social politics. They engage with geology, ecology, ethics, and literature in the real world and on the written page. They analyze the U.S. economy and offer concrete recommendations on monetary policy to the Federal Reserve (and they win awards for the effort). Read more in “Extra Curricular”.

Generations of Colgate alumni graduate with this academic foundation and build careers upon it. Their openness to — and even excitement for — new ideas often serves as a source of personal transformation at some point along their career path. Colgate Magazine editors reached out to several individuals who embraced the risk of professional and personal transformation, and you will find their stories here. They prove that the true test of a quality liberal arts education is its capacity to teach the skill of learning. Read more in “By Chance and By Choice”.

The experience of pursuing a liberal arts education in a residential environment creates a profound bond between Colgate and its alumni.

President Brian W. Casey

The experience of pursuing a liberal arts education in a residential environment creates a profound bond between Colgate and its alumni. Courses evolve, new buildings rise, assistant professors achieve emeritus status, but relationships and memories persevere. They cause graduates to travel thousands of miles to attend reunion in Hamilton, to network with fellow graduates online, to give to the Colgate Fund, or turn out for athletics events when the Raiders compete in the area. Colgate’s 34,000+ living alumni are all likely to have their own reasons to love this place. Colgate Magazine catalogs 52 of them in this edition — one for each week of the year, or 13 for each season, depending on how you prefer to count them. Read more in “52 Reasons to Love Colgate”.

The University’s ambitions, outlined in the Third-Century Plan, are built upon long-standing strengths, and it is accepted that, even in the midst of this transformation, the spirit of the institution, known to generations of alumni, remains unchanged. 

When I started as a swimmer in college, I noticed early on that our coach put the fastest swimmers — the athletes I admired — in lane 3. I wanted to be in lane 3. I worked hard in training, and I started to move up. Lane 5. Lane 4. Until, one day at practice, my coach finally said, “Casey, go to lane 3.” I took my place, and we started the workout. I had achieved my goal, but it was only when that initial euphoria was replaced by the realities of physical exertion that I realized, “Oh, wait, this lane is hard. I have to work even harder now that I am in this lane.”

Colgate is not alone in educating future generations for leadership in a complex world. It pursues its mission alongside a small cadre of other legendary colleges and universities, whose legacies are also tied to the full history of America and American thought. Colgate has earned a place in their ranks, and now that it is there, the community must continuously work even harder to demonstrate the rigor, energy, and capacity for greatness that is the hallmark of this nation’s elite institutions of higher education.

It is the mandate of the Third Century to remember Colgate’s traditions and carry them forward in a way that inspires the Class of 2026 as much as they energized the Class of 1966. Colgate produced its Third-Century Plan as a long-term road map that gives form to the intention and grounds it in well-established campus governance structures. That is how great universities become even greater, how they ensure their longevity in the competitive sphere Colgate inhabits. More than simply keeping pace, this University will stand out from the rest because it carries out its mission with, as they say here, profound determination — as you will see when you turn the pages of this magazine. Enjoy.

For news and updates on the Third-Century Plan, visit thirdcentury.