“The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization is much more than an educational organization; it is a cradle of intellectual diversity, a caring fold of academic nurturing, and a guiding light for the future. AHI’s remarkable coordinators have not only supported and guided Hamilton undergraduate students like me but also created a framework for the development of both students and citizens in the Clinton, NY area and beyond.
College can be an exciting and formative experience, but it can also be a daunting and frustrating one without a sense of rootedness. I often stop and think about how most people, unfortunately, live and die in the same corner of the earth where they were born. It is ironic that the lucky lot in our case (Hamilton College students) elevate their vantage point by moving to a small, remote liberal arts college. Great thinkers, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Henry David Thoreau, demonstrated that isolation doesn’t necessarily expunge open-mindedness, but it’s still far too easy to get stuck in the corner you moved to in the escape from the one you left. AHI has provided students a sense of direction to intellectually navigate turbulent waters.
It’s easy to take notice of the institute’s programming: from events like the Monticello Colloquium to speaker-series at the historic headquarters, we have enjoyed some unforgettable experiences. But the true greatness of AHI lies beyond the surface. Behind every incredible event and learning opportunity, there is the effort of outstanding people. I want to personally thank Co-founder, President, and Executive Director of AHI Professor Robert Paquette. He is a man who truly cares for his students, mentees, colleagues, and the pursuit of knowledge. He labors tirelessly to uphold academic excellence and puts his heart and soul into the people around him in addition to every fiber of AHI’s elegant cloth. I want to also convey my admiration for Co-founder and Charter Fellow of AHI, Professor Douglas Ambrose. He too is a legendary instructor and spreads his intense passion for history and learning to his students. Although I have yet to take a course with him, from the classes and presentations I have visited to the conversations we have had, I can tell that he is a teacher of the highest caliber and a person of enormous compassion. I also enjoyed a presentation by AHI Co-founder and Charter Fellow James Bradfield at the organization’s headquarters. His engaging, informative, and nuanced discussion on the Coase Theorem shed light on the underpinnings of economic systems, addressed the limitations of economic theory, and provided insight on how we can galvanize our knowledge for the betterment of humankind. It would be an understatement to say that the three professorial founders of the AHI are individuals of erudition.
Academic excellence and integrity shine throughout AHI’s structure and membership. I have met and worked with extraordinary individuals as a Staff writer on the AHI backed, student-run publication of Enquiry. It was a pleasure to assist Enquiry Editor-in-Chief Claire Anastasia Kitz and Managing Editor Andrew Juchno. They are smart and hardworking and have taught me a great deal. I also want to thank AHI Resident Fellow Dr. David Frisk for providing support and helpful feedback in the article creation process. AHI Resident Fellow Dr. Mary Grabar has extensively written and published intellectually stimulating works and supported the institute as well. From its founders, fellows, directors, and trustees to its undergraduate students and community members, AHI is grand.
The Institute’s support has not only developed my intellectual capability and advanced my professional skillset, but also strengthened my personal fortitude and invigorated my spirit. As a first-generation American, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants who fled the Soviet Union, it is a great blessing to have been born in the United States, and a great joy to have the opportunity of higher education. For me (and for many others), education has been liberation. I am very appreciative that AHI has supported me in my journey and that I have the chance to be part of something that strives to uplift the human spirit. Above any academic and professional opportunity that my experience with AHI has endowed, I am most grateful for its help in conditioning my character towards living a more meaningful life, pursuing knowledge and wisdom alike, and loving humanity. The Alexander Hamilton Institute transcends the boundaries of any classroom, building, or city. It has the potential to touch the hearts and better the lives of countless people, just like it did mine.”
Edward Shvets, Hamilton College, Class of 2021
“When I walk into the Alexander Hamilton Institute, I am greeted by a sense of belonging and a sense of respect. There exist few places where I can sit down beside two individuals, both of whom I disagree with, and have not only a civil, but also a productive discussion. From Professor Ambrose’s lively orations deconstructing the psychology of early sermons to our weekly reading groups in the library, the AHI engages with students on a unique level and teaches them how to approach the world around them. Professor Paquette is committed to bringing the best and the brightest intellectuals to engage in Oakeshottian conversations. I will never forget sitting in Montalto, listening to fourteen of the world’s leading scholars debate the founding principles behind a republican government. The Alexander Hamilton Institute is a home for ideas, a forum for discourse, and a stage to learn about civil society.”
Sajan Palanki, Hamilton College, Class of 2021
“I have taken the liberty of placing your name [Robert Paquette] on a plaque we have dedicated here to the memory of [AHI academic advisers] Betsey and Gene [Genovese]. . . . [W]e thoroughly enjoyed having [AHI Undergraduate Fellow] Kayla Safran with us a few weeks ago. And we hope you will be disposed to steer more of your associates and students to our precincts.”
Reid Buckley, Buckley School of Thought, Reflection & Communications, to Robert Paquette, 19 November 2012.
“I have taken a few classes and attended speaker programs at the Alexander Hamilton Institute or AHI, as it is also known. All the programs I have taken have been excellent, informative and well attended. Most are open to the public and free for those who attend. The class is once weekly in the evening and textbooks are provided. Assignments consist of 25-30 pages of readings and class includes a lecture and discussion; participation is voluntary. Best of all there are no exams, and snacks and beverages are provided.
Guest speakers and educators with memorable presentations included Andrew McCarthy, discussing his role as a Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York after the first World Trade Center bombing which occurred in the early 1990s and Dr David Frisk’s lecture on the Gettysburg Address during the class on Abraham Lincoln.
The people who attend are from all walks of life, business owners, teachers, lawyers, doctors, students, blue-and white-collar workers and people who are retired. A variety of points of view are shared and all have an opportunity to speak or listen. The class discussions are lively, open, honest, intelligent, thought provoking, and respectful. Most attending have one thing in common, to learn something that they did not know before the walked in that evening. The AHI is a treasure, located in Clinton NY, check it out.”
Alan P., New Hartford, New York
“AHI became a big part of my life while I was a student at Hamilton, and I have a hard time imagining my time at school without it. The programming – a wide-ranging array of reading groups and lectures, as well as the annual colloquium – provided the opportunity to study and discuss a though-provoking mix of modern commentary and classic texts with AHI Fellows, visiting scholars, and a group of students interested enough in subjects such as history, political theory, economics, and literature to spend their extracurricular time thinking and talking about them. Coming into college with little knowledge of these outside of what I’d learned in high school, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the Fellows were to newcomers, as well as how encouraging they were towards students’ more advanced studies. I am grateful to AHI for pushing me to thinking with more depth and humility, encouraging me to communicate more clearly, and for laying the foundation for continued engagement with subjects and texts that I might otherwise have left behind in college.”
Marta Johnson, Hamilton College, Class of 2013