New construction, racial reform highlights at Hamilton College


CLINTON — New construction, racial reform and dealing with the COVID-19 crisis were among the items of growth and challenges for Hamilton College in 2020.

In the new year, the college continues to forge bonds and partnerships within the community and beyond.

Construction on Campus

Hamilton College is engaged in construction projects that involve repurposing, renovating, and preserving several campus buildings. The List Art Center, part of the original Kirkland College campus, is being repurposed.

This major project will completely refresh and modernize the facility as part of the college’s focus on facilities for the humanities. It will become the new home for the Literature and Creative Writing department.

With a continued focus on space for the humanities, Root Hall will also be modernized in the future. A major preservation and renewal project for the college’s historic Chapel will involve reconstructing the tower and steeple, as well as replacing the roof in 2021. 

Hamilton has been collaborating with the City of Rome on the potential for the purchase of land to establish a permanent boathouse for the college’s rowing program. The project development and land acquisition process are on-going.   

COVID-19 testing

All students will have taken a COVID-19 test and tested negative before returning to campus for the second semester. Once on campus, their first stop was at the testing center to take another COVID test. They then quarantined in their room. After receiving a negative result, on their fourth day on campus, they were tested for the third time and released from quarantine once they received their third negative result.

During the first few weeks of classes, students continue to be tested three times a week, and employees with direct contact with students are tested twice a week. All other employees on campus are tested once a week. Students are asked not to leave campus during the semester to limit the possibility of virus transmission. 

College/Community Partnership for Racial Justice Reform

The members of the College/Community Partnership for Racial Justice Reform, founded by Hamilton College Professor of Government Frank Anechiarico, include six area colleges – Hamilton College, Herkimer College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Pratt MWP Institute in Utica, SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), and Utica College. It was formed in 2020 with the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Frontiers Club of the Mohawk Valley, and the United Way of the Mohawk Valley to pursue constructive, equitable change in the criminal justice system locally and statewide. 

The partnership has offered a multi-pronged program designed to provide resources for the community and local government in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and, specifically, to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order 203. The order requires that all jurisdictions with police agencies forward detailed reform plans to Albany by April 1 that take racial justice into account and that source local experience and opinion in doing so.  

In addressing this challenge, the partnership has offered several programs including:

• A survey of experience and opinion about law enforcement, racial justice, and criminal justice conducted by Zogby Analytics.

• Use of the United Way’s 2-1-1 system, funded by the Community Foundation, to deploy the same survey so that anyone with a text capable phone has been able to have his or her voice heard.  

• An eight-part lecture/webinar/Question-and-Answer series that covers Black Lives Matters, police use of force, the treatment of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, domestic violence, and other issues relevant to effective reform broadcast via TV and Zoom.

• Contact with the chief executive officers of each of the 24 policing jurisdictions in the two counties to open discussion about the way the partnership’s work and resources can be leveraged by each jurisdiction in the reform process.

The partnership presented its final program, “Town Hall on Racial Equity and Police Reform,” to the public on WKTV and Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.

It featured two presentations on their “Best Practices for Police Reform” report and on their survey commissioned from Zogby. Patrick Johnson of Safe Streets and Hamilton Professor Anechiarico presented the “Best Practices” report and Hamilton College Associate Professor of Government Gbemende Johnson and SUNY-Poly Professor of Sociology Veronica Tichenor presented the survey.

The Herkimer and Oneida Counties Community Foundation also participated in the Town Hall and presented its equity initiative. The presentation was carried on WKTV’s CBS channel from 7-8 p.m. and the Zoom webinar continued until 8:30 p.m.

Wellin Museum of Art

Although the Wellin Museum of Art is closed to the public this semester, the current exhibition’s virtual tour can be accessed virtually:

The museum also offers education programs to interested schools. Information can be found here:

The current exhibition, “Michael Rakowitz: Nimrud,” focuses on the loss of Iraq’s art and cultural wealth via colonization, archaeological exploration, and war. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the re-creation of a room in the Northwest Palace of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud (Kalhu), constructed between 883 and 859 BCE, first excavated between 1845 and 1851 and thought to have included nearly 200 rooms.

Room H displays reproductions of the 7-foot, ancient carved stone reliefs, including winged male figures and an inscription detailing the ruler’s achievements that lined the walls. In his re-creation, however, Rakowitz displays only the portions of the panels remaining when the palace was destroyed by the jihadist group ISIS in 2015.


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