Student and Faculty Work

Colgate’s Bicentennial has offered a plethora of opportunities for students and professors from many disciplines to undertake scholarly endeavors exploring the past, present and future of the institution.

In 2015, in anticipation of the Bicentennial, the university offered funding for special academic projects that proposed to consider or focus on:

  • Elements of the history of the university and/or the region
  • University collections
  • The scientific work of eminent Colgate professors or alumni
  • The legacy of some element of Colgate’s past
  • Methods used at the university to address a new problem
  • The nature of the university today
  • The university’s future

The selected projects took a variety of forms, from new courses and new units within existing courses to faculty- and student-initiated research projects, to one-time events that could bring students and professors together.

In addition to those who received a Bicentennial grant, other members of the community have also been exploring aspects of Colgate’s 200-year history through a variety of projects and events. Much of their work is collected here.


CLAS 313: The Classics and the History of Colgate University

Faculty member: Rebecca Ammerman, Classics

In this spring 2017 seminar, students conducted primary research in Colgate’s archives to recover the history of the study of the Classics at the University. They investigated how the place of the study of ancient Greek and Latin as well as Greek and Roman literature, rhetoric, history, art, architecture, and archaeology has evolved since the institution’s founding. They presented the results of their research to the public at the via an exhibition and symposium, Deo ac Veritati: Pursuing the Classics at Colgate, at Case-Geyer Library, and designed and produced an accompanying print and web exhibition catalogue.

ENST 390: Environmental Lessons

Faculty member: April Baptiste, Environmental Studies

This project-based, interdisciplinary course examined current environmental issues in the context of community-based learning. Students received practical experience working in interdisciplinary teams to examine environmental issues with a goal of developing relevant recommendations.


Colgate University Campus Forest Offset Project Analysis (PDF)

  • Andrew Bianco ’18, Felix Dalstein ’18, Julia Feikens ’18, John Post ’18, Leda Rosenthal ’18, Josh Winward ’18

The History of Transportation at Colgate University (PDF)

  • Marisa Chiodo ’18, Kathryn Deaton ’17, and Jonathan Morales ’18

The History of Heating at Colgate University

  • Julia Marchetti ’18, Yukun Xu ’17, Kylie Armo ’17

Food Provision and the Incorporation of Sustainable Practices at Colgate University over its 200-year History as an Institution of Higher Learning

  • Robert Howie ’18, Geneva Leong '17, and Summitt Liu ’18

Land Use and Forest Management: A History of Sustainability at Colgate University

  • P.J. Bell ’18, Kimberly Duncan ’18, and Martha Montufar ’17

Building and Construction Sustainability at Colgate University Bicentennial Anniversary

  • Katie Connors ’17, Danny LaCrosse ’17, and Emma Newmann ’18

The History of Domestic Water Use at Colgate University

  • Ashlea Raemer ’18 and Jeff Potts ’17

GEOG 401A: The Weather and Climate History of Colgate University

Faculty member: Adam Burnett, Geography

Colgate has long celebrated its geographic location and its relationship with the local environment. Our local physical and cultural environments are among the defining elements of the Colgate experience.

Life at Colgate — and, for that matter, across the wider region — is influenced by weather and climate.  For many current and former students, Colgate cannot be discussed without some mention of the climate, the associated weather, and the shared backdrops they create. As well, the climate impacts the campus infrastructure, the way buildings are designed, and their maintenance. There are also broader implications, including its impact on regional vegetation, water resources, cultural and economic activities, and recreation. Recent concerns regarding climate change add additional complexity to these relationships.

This seminar was part of a larger project to construct a weather and climate history of Colgate University and its surrounding region, associated with the Bicentennial celebration considered a wide range of instrumental data, historical documents, and existing scholarship. Each student completed a project exploring an aspect of Colgate’s weather and climate history. Some used observational weather records to answer a specific climate-related question, while others used historical documents to study the ways in which weather influenced the lives of people in central New York.

HIST 312: History of Colgate, Spring 2017; HIST 114: History of Colgate, Spring 2017

Faculty member: Jennifer Hull, History

This course invited students to rewrite Colgate's history in preparation for the university’s bicentennial celebration. Through weekly work in archives with primary sources, students devised critical research questions and offered creative answers. Through secondary readings and research, students connected Colgate to its larger contexts (Hamilton, the United States, and the world). By producing digital content and object studies, they retold Colgate history — telling new stories about the people, things, and events that built this 200-year-old university on the hill.

Read The Hall of Alumni and Friends, a history of Alumni Hall derived from the research and writing done by Andres Gonzalez ’21 for this course.

POSC 211: The Presidency and Executive Leadership

Faculty member: Tim Byrnes, Political Science

This course is generally centered around a comparative examination of executive power within various types of democratic government. The U.S. presidency is always the major case we examine, but we view it as one among many cases of executive power in democratic settings. During the fall 2018 semester, in anticipation of and celebration of Colgate’s Bicentennial, we will be using the presidency of Colgate University as our central frame of comparison. Within this basic comparative framework, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which executive leaders—in the United States and at Colgate—interact with other sources of power and influence within their respective systems of governance.

In terms of the United States, this will entail close examination of the system of separation of powers in which the executive is checked by legislative and judicial institutions of significant independent authority. In terms of Colgate, this will entail analysis of the ways in which the university’s chief executive officer interacts with and “shares governance” with countervailing forces such as the faculty, other senior administrators, and the university’s Board of Trustees.


History of off-campus study

Project by: Johanna Holvey-Bowles and Elizabeth Gonzales ’19

When off-campus study director Joanna Holvey Bowles and research fellow Elizabeth Gonzales ’19 traced the history of off-campus study at the university for a Bicentennial research project, they learned that students’ deep intellectual engagement in “seeing the world” went back much further than one might expect. A presentation of their findings in April 2018 heavily informs this historical overview of the global reach of a Colgate education.

Read: Origins of off-campus study

Video: 1968 Administration Building Sit-In

Project by: Annalise Simons ’21 and Alicia Nguyen ’20

Two students, Annalise Simons ’21 and Alicia Nguyen ’20, produced Administration Building Sit-in, 1968, a video compiling recordings and images from the Civil Rights era's student occupation of James B. Colgate Hall, a pivotal moment that led to critical changes on campus.

Watch the video and learn more about the sit-in

Life After Death: Two Hundred Years of Natural History at Colgate

Project faculty: Tim McCay, biology; Elizabeth Marlowe, art and art history; Eddie Watkins, biology

Did you know that the founder of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City taught Zoology at Colgate in the 1870s? And that the hundreds of birds he stuffed here are part of the Museum of the Chenango Valley, located just below the Ho Atrium? And that some of the most important early discoveries in the field of plant hybridization took place here as well? Come discover this lost Colgate history at Life After Death: Two Hundred Years of Natural History at Colgate, a new exhibition in Olin Hall curated by students from Museum Studies and Biology.

Video: History of West Hall

Project by: Jane Trask ’17; Lauren Siano ’16; Robert McVaugh, art and art history; Ho Tung Visualization Lab

A video exploration of Colgate's oldest building, West Hall. 

Watch: Life in the Western Edifice

Documentary: Colgate at 200

Project by: Robert Garland, classics; Joe Eakin, Ho Tung Visualization Lab; James Smith ’70

Colgate at 200 is a 35-minute documentary that has been produced for the Ho Tung Visualization Laboratory to coincide with the celebration of Colgate’s Bicentennial. Colgate at 200 tells Colgate’s story from its foundation in 1817 as a Baptist Seminary, its transformation into a leading liberal arts college, and its subsequent history down to the present day. The narrative is interspersed with archival material that tells the story of the engagement of the college and its alumni in world events. As the decades tick by, so do the campus and the Village of Hamilton change before us. “Colgate at 200” tells the story of how the vision of our 13 founders became the world-class teaching and research institution whose birth we celebrate in 2018–19.

Profiles of the Atomic Age

Project by: Liz Rasmussen ’21

As a final project for the course CORE 138: Advent of the Atomic Bomb, Rasmussen set out to "to compile the stories and opinions of individuals who have either lived or grown up under the influence of nuclear power." She managed to connect with 20 Colgate alumni, recording their varied experiences following the advent of nuclear weaponry and energy.

Explore: Profiles of the Atomic Age

The Beauty of Sculpted Minerals

Project faculty: Rich April, geology; Di Keller, geology

Celebrating Colgate's Bicentennial and 150-year association with the American Museum of Natural History.

Beautiful mineral sculptures carved from jade, carnelian, malachite, lapis lazuli, tiger eye, and rock crystal are on loan from the Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. This special exhibit in the Robert M. Linsley Geology Museum celebrates Colgate’s Bicentennial as well as the university’s 150-year association with one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions. The AMNH was created 150 years ago, in 1869, and its founding father was Albert S. Bickmore, then a professor at Madison University (now Colgate). Robert Colgate, benefactor of Colgate University, was signatory to the original letter of December 30, 1868, to the Central Park Board of Commissioners requesting the establishment of a great Museum of Natural History in NYC. One of the first dinosaur eggs ever discovered, which can be seen in this museum, was acquired by Colgate Trustee Col. Austen B. Colgate from Roy Chapman Andrews, world-famous explorer who found the egg during his 1923 AMNH-sponsored expedition to the Gobi Desert. George D. Langdon Jr., Colgate’s 12th president, was named the 9th president of the AMNH and served there until 1993.


Lecture: Colgate’s Most Distinguished Graduate, Now Unknown: Harry Emerson Fosdick

April 17, 2018

Chris Vecsey, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of the humanities and Native American studies in the Department of Religion; chair, Department of Religion, presented a lecture titled “Colgate’s Most Distinguished Graduate, Now Unknown: Harry Emerson Fosdick 1900.”

Read: Colgate’s Most Distinguished Graduate, Now Unknown


Commencement Seminar: Enter Women

May 19, 2018

On the occasion of presenting her with an honorary doctor of letters degree in 2018, Colgate invited Jane Lagoudis Pinchin to present an inaugural Commencement Seminar during graduation weekend. The Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of English emerita, Pinchin has served in most of the significant positions in the academic administration, including provost and dean of the faculty and vice president for academic advancement, as well as interim university president in 2001–2002.

Rather than giving a solo talk, she invited two other Colgate women leaders to join her: Jill Harsin, who has served as interim president (2015–16) and dean of the faculty, and Tracey Hucks ’87, MA’90, the current provost and dean of the faculty.

The Hill Envisioned

A Bicentennial exhibition in the Clifford Gallery researched and organized by Robert McVaugh, professor of art and art history, Emily Crichlow ’18 and Allison Shahidi ’19

April 25–June 3, 2018

August 27–October 3, 2018