Bicentennial Weekend Highlights

by Christie Crawford ’13

Hamilton College kicked off this year with its Bicentennial Celebration on the weekend of September 15th-18th. The campus buzzed with activities for over 3,500 Hamilton alumni, families, friends, and students.  The cloudy skies and stormy weather did not hold any alumni back from returning to their old stomping grounds for Hamilton’s 200th birthday. Then again, they did go here at some point, which means they know not to be surprised by Hamilton’s flighty fall weather.
The celebration started with the opening of the time capsule from the Class of 1871.  The Emerson Gallery also featured an exhibit called “Time Capsules and Cornerstones: 200 Years of Collective Memory at Hamilton,” in which scrapbooks and other school artifacts were put on display to show how Hamilton has both changed and remained the same for the last 200 years.

The Art Department sponsored a print exhibit displaying various prints made by Hamilton and Kirkland students since 1974.  Even though today’s students live in a world of BlackBerries and fancy technology that the class of ’74 could have never even imagined, the fact that students are still making prints like they did over 80 years ago shows that the class of ’74 is not as far out as today’s students may imagine.

Hamilton and Kirkland alums had the opportunity to relive the glory days and sit in on various classes on Thursday and Friday.  History students ran tours of campus all weekend that focused on bicentennial bits of Hamilton history.  Bon Appétit put together a delicious campus-wide picnic on Saturday on the Dunham quad, bringing together families, friends, and alumni, both young and old.
The Bicentennial Assembly featured speeches from President Joan Hinde Stewart, Student Assembly President Daniel Knute Gailor, Professor Simon, and other Hamilton representatives.  They spoke about Hamilton’s rich past, promising future, and unique legacy.

Students and alumni enjoyed engaging lectures by other professors throughout the weekend. Professor Isserman spoke about the Bicentennial History of the College, and the changes that both the students and the institution have gone through since Hamilton’s founding in 1812.
Various events on campus also inspired opportunities for students and alumni to interact and network.  At the Careers in Entrepreneurship panel discussion, successful alumni such as the CEO at, Dan Nye ’88, and the CEO of Netflix, Marc Randolph ’81, discussed breaking into the “real world” after college and exploring the world of entrepreneurship.  Interactions with successful alumni inspire current students to stay focused and positive about life after Hamilton.

Bicentennial Weekend was also a success for Hamilton’s fall sports teams.  Football, field hockey, and men’s and women’s soccer all had games over the weekend.  Football dominated and won their opening game against Tufts for the first time since 1992.  Women’s soccer faced a tough loss against Amherst on Saturday, but came back fighting the next day and beat Wesleyan 3-1.  Women’s Field Hockey lost on Sunday, but beat out Amherst who is ranked 12th in the country.

All in all, despite a few missing bicentennial banners and several displaced golf carts, the weekend couldn’t have been any more of a success.  (Plus, how can you expect the alumni to behave perfectly on campus when you can’t even threaten them with points?!).

People came from all over to celebrate Hamilton’s 200th birthday, and that says something about the strength of the relationships that are fostered on the Hill. Hamilton has had a great ride for the last 200 years, and if the next 200 years go any way like the last, Hamilton has nothing but a bright, fun future ahead.