President’s Message

Spring 2024

Every now and then, in a college or university’s history, you can actually see significant changes. This is one of those times at Colgate. It’s a rare moment at any college and university when the physical campus clearly enters a new chapter. 

But, both by plan, and also due to some serendipity, the physical expression of Colgate’s third century is becoming more apparent on the campus.  

The 19th century at Colgate is most visible in the line of buildings from Alumni Hall to East Hall. The 20th century has two visible chapters. First is the completion of the quads up on the hill with the construction of the chapel and the major academic buildings to the west, as well as the completion of the residential quad. The second half of the 20th century can be seen in the rise of the modern buildings, from Reid to Dana to the original Case Library. Student life at Colgate has changed in fits and starts with the residence halls up on the hill developing first, and Broad Street developing and changing over many decades. The addition of several hundred beds in apartments and townhouses started in the 1970s and continued into the early 21st century.

Right now on the campus, the Robert H.N. Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Center (and the related renovation of Colgate’s largest academic building, Olin Hall) is nearing completion. Down the hill, the new building to house our Department of Computer Science as well as numerous arts departments and programs is fully formed next to Whitnall Field. Slated for completion this summer, faculty, staff, and students will utilize the building in the fall semester for classes and creative endeavors facilitated by the building’s fabrication labs, a robotics lab, a digital recording studio, five computer labs, an experimental exhibition and performance space, a media archaeology lab, and flexible classrooms.

Clearing for the glen that will connect what are now two distinct “academic neighborhoods” has begun, and Peter’s Glen will soon be a several-acre green zone for Colgate. A new mixed-use apartment building downtown in the village has begun.

In the months ahead, we will begin the Lower Campus Initiative, which will see Colgate renovate the existing structures on Broad Street while adding new beds in a new row of structures in a line to the west of the existing buildings. We hope soon to announce plans for a full renewal of our athletics facilities and athletics campus.

I’m an historian by training, and it is tempting to name periods, to define them by a title. The 19th-century building program was surely The Period of the College on the Hill. With the emergence of McGregory, Lawrence, and Lathrop halls, we can see The Academic Program Emerges. The last period of significant growth — when in post–World War II Colgate we see the new Case Library, Reid Athletic Center, Dana Arts Center, and Olin Hall — is Colgate and the American Century, when a booming national economy is reflected in a booming campus.

What is this period now? I think of it as a period in which Colgate embraces its national role and recognizes that it has a campus that includes not simply the upper quadrangles but also a large region along Broad Street.

Colgate is truly a national, exceptional university of quite significant reach and reputation. Its emerging campus expresses that in stone. We are, in short, in an exciting time.