Uniting a divided nation: Hamilton College finds a ‘Common Ground’


Responding to the sharp and escalating political polarization in the United States and abroad, Hamilton College President David Wippman created the “Common Ground” speakers program in 2017.

Its goal is to host speakers, one a Democrat, the other a Republican, who model respectful dialogue across political boundaries.

“With capable speakers on both sides of a given issue, each willing to acknowledge strengths in the position of the other, we aim to encourage students and other audience members to question their own assumptions and consider carefully the evidence and arguments supporting other viewpoints,” he said.

Beginning in October, the program brought two former senior advisers to U.S. presidents, David Axelrod from the Obama administration and Karl Rove from the Bush administration, to speak. On April 11, two former national security advisers, Condoleezza Rice from the Bush administration and Susan Rice from the Obama administration, will discuss foreign policy issues at the college. These programs are free and open to the public but do require tickets. Information on tickets will be available in March at www.hamilton.edu/commonground.

The public was invited to a series of free events last weekend at Hamilton College and the village of Clinton. The celebration of 100 years of hockey in the Mohawk Valley and the Hamilton College coach, Albert Prettyman, who introduced the sport, included games and programs. Former NHL player and Hamilton graduate Guy Hebert was on hand with several other hockey notables.

In the last year, Hamilton has begun construction on a new health and counseling center. The 13,186-square-foot, two-story facility is expected to be completed by July. It is located between the Sadove Student Center and the Anderson Connell Alumni Center. As is true on most college campuses across the nation, Hamilton has experienced a significant increase in demand for counseling services.

Director of Counseling Services David Walden said, “This facility will be an excellent launching pad for our expanded services and for continuing the dialogue about how we define wellness for the Hamilton community.”

The facility will replace the Rudd Health Center, which housed both health services and student counseling until the fall of 2016. The counseling office outgrew its space, requiring a move to temporary facilities on College Hill Road until the new building is completed.

Other recent construction on campus includes the creation of the Tietje tennis courts, arranged in four pods of three courts each. Construction of a new indoor 28,000-square-foot practice facility began in January. It will be equipped with synthetic turf that will serve multiple sports and will include an enclosed batting cage for baseball and softball practices. Completion is expected in November.

In 2017, Hamilton partnered with QuestBridge, a California-based nonprofit that connects high-achieving, low-income students with highly selective colleges and universities. Hamilton will become the 39th institution to join QuestBridge, whose current educational partners include six of the eight Ivy League colleges and six of Hamilton’s peers in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

QuestBridge recruits, develops and motivates these students to increase the percentage of these who attend the nation’s best colleges.

The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art celebrated its fifth anniversary this year having hosted 50,168 visitors, 22 exhibitions, and 114 public programs and events. The museum has worked with 25 local school districts through its K-12 educational outreach program tailored to address the Common Core curriculum. T

The museum’s next exhibitions include “This Place,” the photographs of Israel and the West Bank taken by 12 photographers from 2009-2012, and “Maria Cabrera: Space in Between.” The latter show presents the stories of people from throughout Latin America who have crossed the border between the U.S. and Mexico through narratives stitched into sculptural replicas of desert plants indigenous to the Southwest.

The shows continue through June 10 and are free and open to the public. Additional information can be found at www.hamilton.edu/ellin.


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