Winter 2016

The ’Gate outdoors

Members of the Colgate community can often be seen jogging, strolling, and bicycling around town, but the stakes were raised when the university participated in Campus Challenge from September 6 to October 17.

Created by the nonprofit organization Outdoor Nation, the challenge was part of an initiative to get people to reconnect with nature and spend more time outdoors. Participants earned points for their schools by snapping a photo to record the outdoor activity and uploading it to the Campus Challenge website. Austin Sun ’18 took the above photo of Kaitlin Abrams ’18 in the Thousand Islands.

Everything from bird watching to skateboarding counted in this competition, which was open to all members of the Colgate community, so students, faculty, staff, and alumni from around the world were welcome to join.

With more than 200 participants and 7,530 points accumulated by the time of the challenge’s completion, Colgate finished in the middle of the pack of 57 participating colleges and universities across the nation.

“For a school of its size, Colgate was fairly competitive in the challenge,” said John Simoni ’16, who worked with Ben Harris ’17 to lead the challenge at Colgate.

To draw attention to the challenge, Harris and Simoni hung a hammock outside of the Coop and encouraged people to enjoy the outdoors right there. They also hosted a slacklining event and an outdoor yoga class on the Quad.

Nick Knoke ’16 was the top Colgate participant. Having logged more than 100 entries, he claimed his spot as the most outdoorsy person at Colgate. “I value any time I have away from the hustle and bustle of modern life because it allows me to step back and digest my recent experiences,” he said.

— Meredith Dowling ’17

Ciccone Commons

Students in the first residential commons

Students in the first residential commons, named for Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10. Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18

Colgate’s first residential commons, which opened its doors on Arrival Day 2015, has been named for Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10. Commons residents made the choice by popular vote after reviewing a slate of important names in Colgate’s history.

“I am humbled and honored,” Ciccone said. “It not only recognizes my lifetime commitment to Colgate, but more importantly, it acknowledges the many voices of women and people of color in Colgate’s story — a story that will be woven into the historical fabric of the institution’s commitment to coeducation and inclusion.”

Ciccone is a member of the first class of women to graduate from Colgate. After earning her law degree from Hofstra University in 1977, she went on to a career in law and journalism. She also became a passionate advocate for the Colgate community, both current students and alumni.

Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10

Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10. Photo by Andrew M. Daddio

A founding member of Colgate’s Alumni of Color organization, Ciccone served on both the Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees, chairing its legal affairs and insurance committee. She has mentored students via the Sister2Sister program and career services, and has supported the ALANA Cultural Center, establishing a library of books by authors of color. In 2014, she received the Wm. Brian Little ’64 Award for Distinguished Service.

The Ciccone Commons is the first of four residential commons that will open during the course of the next several years. The system represents a new approach to “living the liberal arts” at Colgate: led by faculty directors, students not only live and enjoy free time together, but they also take classes and study side by side.

“Residential commons allow classroom conversations to continue into the living room, while increasing the opportunity for faculty leaders to mentor students,” Interim President Jill Harsin said.

Sophomore, junior, and senior students will play a crucial role in commons activities, and they will have the opportunity to live in commons annexes located on Broad Street.

“A liberal arts education was never intended to be confined to the classroom — learning happens everywhere,” Dean of the College Suzy Nelson said. “Students are looking for a home away from home and an enriching co-curricular experience. We’re providing the tools they need to build that community the day they step on campus.”

As with the selection of Ciccone, each subsequent residential commons’ moniker will reflect an important character in Colgate’s story — people who have demonstrated courage in the face of adversity and made an impact on the community.

“Diane’s name conveys exactly what we hope for in our commons: a sense of inclusion, warmth, and deep engagement among students, staff, and faculty,” said faculty co-director Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology.

How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor speaks with Professor Greg Ames’s English class this fall

How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor spoke to Professor Greg Ames’s English class this fall, offering advice to students interested in careers in the arts. Photo by Andrew M. Daddio

Critical conversations

Books have a special power. When we read, we experience the lives of others very different from ourselves, in intellectual, social, and spiritual ways. When we talk about what we have read, we build empathy and understanding.

When Kiese Laymon, the African-American author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, shared stories about growing up with his grandmother in Mississippi, in a packed Memorial Chapel in late October, he was for the third time in nine months helping the Colgate community work to address issues of racism, sexual violence, and inclusion on campus.

After Laymon delivered an impactful lecture on oppression last February, his book was chosen through a campuswide vote to serve as the locus for new programs meant to foster relationship building, exploration of social identities, and examinations of systems of privilege, power, and oppression.

Kiese Laymon at the podium in Colgate's Memorial Chapel

Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18

A new orientation session called Colgate Conversations took the typical first-year summer reading assignment to a new level. Nearly 50 faculty and staff volunteers, supported by student Link staff, facilitated first-year seminar class discussions using Intergroup Dialogue (IGD). The IGD method promotes active listening and constructive discussion of difficult topics such as race, gender, sexuality, and class.

Students were asked to reflect on their own social identities as they grappled with Laymon’s book, the messages in Dr. Maura Cullen’s popular annual diversity lecture, and a special letter to the Bicentennial Class of 2019 that highlighted women and students of color, reframing Colgate’s history as a “history for all.” These conversations aimed to position first-year students as active participants in building a more inclusive and just campus community.

Through the Colgate Community Reads program, Laymon’s October appearance became the headliner in a series meant to foster sustained dialogue about his book’s themes amongst many on campus. The series included visiting lecturers, poet Tracie Morris, a dance/art performance, and film screenings like Freedom Riders.

In his reading, Laymon described an emotional talk he had with his grandmother. He disclosed his experiences with sexual violence, and she in turn told him about hers. He also mentioned how hard she worked at a chicken processing plant in central Mississippi, “a Southern laboratory of race and gender terror,” for 50 cents less an hour than the white man hired after her.

“It’s the will and collective action of people in my grandmother’s generation that allowed me to be here,” he said. “My grandmother’s story is … part of our and my story.” Following the reading, students asked Laymon questions ranging from his opinion of contemporary musicians to his thoughts on white privilege and white power.

Jabari Ajao ’18 considers Laymon a mentor and source of inspiration. “Kiese’s works are literary masterpieces that stand in solidarity with the oppressed in America,” Ajao said. “He creates a space in the academy where my feelings and my culture are represented honestly.”

Concluding the Q&A session, Laymon (who, earlier in October, had surprised English professor Kezia Page’s students by video-chatting with them during class), offered this advice to students: “Use your education to get as good as possible at something that is just …is honest … that [gives] healthy choices and second chances to groups of people who do not have healthy choices and second chances.”

Discussing being green at the White House

Constance HarshWhen Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty, participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House on November 19, she was part of launching the American Campuses Act on Climate day of action.

“Higher education has an important role to play here,” she said.

At the White House event, Harsh joined a select group of higher education presidents, other campus and business leaders, and high-ranking government officials.

Also in November, in a letter to the White House, Interim President Jill Harsin reiterated Colgate’s commitments to sustainability, which include:

  • Achieving carbon neutrality by 2019, the school’s bicentennial
  • Making carbon neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students
  • Incorporating sustainable practices in all phases of campus planning and building design, from inception to implementation
  • Achieving a minimum of LEED Silver standards for all new construction and major renovations
  • Enhancing teaching and learning, creating long-term economic resiliency, building and restoring robust ecological systems, and supporting a healthier and more just society

Check out #ActOnCampus on Twitter to see some of Colgate’s sustainability successes.

Village Green

A portrayal of Star Wars character Yoda.

Photo from

May the force — and the joy of reading — be with you this year. The Colgate Bookstore hosted a Star Wars–themed children’s party with games, prizes, and snacks as part of the global Star Wars Reads Day on October 10. Colgate’s was one of more than 1,000 bookstores, libraries, and retailers that took part in the event, which aims to foster a love for both reading and Star Wars among people of all ages.

On October 24, Hamilton resident, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Art Zimmer celebrated the launch of his memoir, Making it Count: From A to Z, the Life and Times of Art Zimmer, at the Hamilton Public Library. The book chronicles his life from his days as a student at Hamilton Central School and local farmer to his experiences as the owner of more than a dozen multi-million-dollar businesses. Zimmer signed books, and attendees noshed on refreshments provided by the Friends of the Hamilton Public Library. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book was donated to the library.

There was no shortage of strikes and spares during senior bowling at the Colgate Lanes. A group of seniors kicked off the fall season during the first week of October. The semiweekly events — held every Tuesday and Friday — are open throughout the year to all seniors ages 50 and older in the Hamilton area. On Tuesday mornings, the men and women bowl separately; on Fridays, they bowl together. Although many of these experienced bowlers regularly top 100 with ease, the event is open to people of all abilities and newcomers are always welcome to join.

— Meredith Dowling ’17

Colgate joins Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success

This fall, the university joined the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, 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.

The new coalition brings together more than 80 public and private colleges and universities across the United States. Participants must meet specific criteria designed to increase college affordability, access, and success for students from all backgrounds. Requirements include meeting full financial 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, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. “In addition, the coalition includes only colleges and universities with 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 online tools to all applicants, which may help reduce the stress associated with the college application process.”

The coalition’s free online tools are designed to encourage early planning for high school students, and to help facilitate smoother financial aid applications. At press time, this new platform was slated to come online in January.

Groundbreaking news

Two shovels at 1965 Arena groundbreaking.

Photo by Andrew M. Daddio

In October, Colgate celebrated groundbreakings for two facilities that will transform the student experience in two key areas: preparation for success after Colgate, and athletics. In separate ceremonies on October 2, supporters turned shovels and applauded the creation of Benton Hall and the Class of 1965 Arena.

Both buildings were funded primarily by gifts from alumni, parents, and friends.

Benton Hall, to be nestled just below the Academic Quad near the Hurwitz Admission Center in James B. Colgate Hall, will serve as the new home of Colgate’s career services efforts, the Office of Undergraduate Studies, and the first-generation initiative.

“I want to say thank you to the Colgate community for giving Benton Hall a location of prominence, recognizing that it underscores the significance of student outcomes and distinguishes us with prospective students, parents, and employers,” said namesake Daniel Benton ’80, P’10, H’10.

The Class of 1965 Arena and Riggs Rink will replace Starr Rink as the home of Colgate hockey. It will also house offices and locker rooms for men’s and women’s lacrosse, soccer, and ice hockey.

During a ceremony at what will soon be center ice, key supporters buried 13 pucks and $13. Trustee and former Athletic Affairs Committee chair Michael J. Herling ’79, P’08,’10,’12 noted “the educational value of athletics, and that intercollegiate athletics help promote character traits valuable to personal development and success.”

“It takes enormous commitment to get to the point where we are today,” said Daniel B. Hurwitz ’86, P’17, chair of the Board of Trustees, “from our alumni — and from many who are not alumni — who generously supported the buildings we’re here to celebrate.”

The Class of 1965 Arena will be ready for the first game of the 2016 hockey season in October. Benton Hall will open its doors in 2017.

“As we build Colgate for our next century, these two projects scream to our core: we want it all,” said trustee Stephen J. Errico ’85, P’16,’18, an investor in both facilities. “We want excellent academics, high-quality athletics, and a fantastic career for the students who come through here.”

Taking her business to the next level

Miranda Scott '18 pitching her new business

Miranda Scott ’18

Miranda Scott ’18 launched The Waffle Cookie just last summer, and she’s already learning the ups and downs of running a business. Scott recently participated in the annual “Real” Elevator Pitch competition, where college students present their ideas to investors during elevator rides up the second-tallest building in St. Louis, Mo. Twenty finalists were invited to pitch to 20 judges on December 6. They had 40 seconds — for each of the 10 rides — to earn the judges’ favor. It was organized by Saint Louis University’s John Cook School of Business.

Scott and her best friend, Serena Bian (a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania), decided to start a social enterprise during the summer break after their first year. The friends, who met at the Cranbrook Schools near Detroit, felt the weight of the city, even though they were in a suburb. “So we wanted to have our social impact benefit Detroit,” Scott said.

“We both love food, we love sweets, and I have a particular liking for breakfast foods, so we experimented and came up with the waffle cookie,” Scott said. Slightly softer than a cookie, the confection is made with a waffle iron and comes in a variety of flavors, from white chocolate chip macadamia nut to lemon.

They began by selling at farmers’ markets and two retail stores. But when the academic year started, they decided that they only had the bandwidth to sell online — they make all the orders themselves.

For every 10 cookies sold, they donate a meal through Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit that “rescues” surplus food and donates it to emergency food providers in the metro Detroit area. At press time, they’d sold 946 cookies since their online store launched in early October, and they’d donated 94 meals. (During the summer, they sold approximately 450 cookies and donated money to a different nonprofit.)

To get the business off the ground, Scott and Bian raised $3,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Also, a Colgate parent has invested in The Waffle Cookie. Scott joined Colgate’s Thought Into Action (TIA) Entrepreneurship Institute this year, which is how she learned about the “Real” Elevator Pitch Competition. TIA leaders told students that if any of them were finalists, the institute would pay for the trip to St. Louis.

On December 5, Scott went to the monthly TIA meeting and practiced her pitch on her peers. The ’Gate student then hopped on a plane for the Gateway City. (Bian couldn’t join her because she was on a Wharton Business School panel that day talking about The Waffle Cookie.)

The next morning, Scott met her competitors and stepped into her first elevator. “You couldn’t even shake [the judges’] hands,” because time was so limited, she said. The two judges scribbled notes as Scott delivered her pitch and handed out cookies. “I was nervous at first, but after the first one, I realized that it was super fun,” Scott said. “By the time they were over, I wanted to do ten more.”

The Waffle Cookie may not have won the cash prize, but Scott was mainly in it for the experience, like “learning what other young social entrepreneurs are doing,” she said. And while networking afterward with the judges, Scott received advice from successful businesspeople — one of whom offered her an internship.

Over winter break, Scott and Bian planned to tour a facility in Detroit that would bake and ship their products so they could spend their time on market research and sales strategies. The two would like to open a storefront in Detroit after graduation: not only looking for sweet success, they also hope to make a positive impact on their community.

— Aleta Mayne