“The remarkable value of the Alexander Hamilton Institute hit home when the parents of a student thanked me for organizing the AHI undergraduate conference on American politics. They had the good fortune of watching their son deliver a paper in the company of students from Princeton, RIT, and other prestigious academic institutions. Their pride—and their son’s openness to his parents attending the panel!—truly demonstrated the profound impact the AHI has on the lives of students and people in the community.
Three consecutive times AHI has placed confidence in me to co-manage the conference, and each time students have come away with an experience I am sure will last the rest of their lives. Most undergraduates do not have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the most pressing issues facing the American republic with their peers and be exposed to a diversity of ideas and intellectually robust criticisms. Conferences such as those offered by AHI are indispensable for undergraduate education, especially at a time when rational discussion in a tolerant space are hard to come by. The students speak for themselves. On student wrote, ‘It was such a wonderful conference and the whole experience was something that I will never forget.’ Another said, ‘I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and be with such intelligent students and just want to show my overall gratitude to you.’ She added that American history is a topic she wants to study further. Yet another student said that a presentation he had seen was ‘amazingly insightful and truly changed my perspective.’
I also have had the privilege of leading two reading groups at Skidmore College sponsored by AHI. The reading groups are composed of students who have volunteered to study classic texts in the history of thought. Over the course of a year we read texts on American politics and Islamic philosophy. Often our conversations about these texts would continue beyond the allotted time of the reading group. Several students would frequent my office to discuss the ideas of Tocqueville and St. Augustine, as well as contemporary political issues. One such student went on to be the youngest person ever to be elected to his town’s school board. As with the undergraduate conference, the reading clusters offer students the opportunity to explore ideas in an intellectually dynamic environment that is all-too rare today.
The students’ experiences at the undergraduate conferences and reading clusters show the indispensable need for educational institutions like AHI. AHI has helped shape students who have embarked on a wide range of paths such as the Marine corps, graduate school, and politics. Without question, AHI offers an educational experience students can get nowhere else. I cannot thank Bob Paquette and AHI enough for inviting me to be part of an educational experience students deeply desire and truly deserve.”
Dr. Rob L’Arrivee, Ph.D., Political Science, University of Notre Dame
“In the spring of 2016 I saw a poster advertising a class at the Alexander Hamilton Institute about the 60’s. I had grown up in Clinton but graduated from high school in Sacramento California in 1968. I’d visited Haight Ashbury in San Francisco grown up on the creative wave of rock-n-roll and grown to detest the situation in Viet Nam. I let my hair grow long and attended protests in the East. I’d participated in the march on Washington in 1971. I was damned if I was going to let any conservative group inform others what the 60’s were all about.
What I discovered was a thoughtful well-informed educator with a skill for placing the emphasis on history, learning and respect for divergent experiences. The classes were taught in a manner I had recalled from a Philosophy course that reflected the teachings of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. A short thoughtful lecture was followed by a very challenging discussion. As polarized as the 60’s were, we are again entrenched in polarized opinions backed with rumor instead of facts today. But something unexpected happened. The class progressed with a respect for the outlook of others and there were no personal attacks though the discussion did get spirited. Dr. Frisk made an effort to include the reticent as well as the eager. He drew out thought from awkward phrasing. I learned as well as got a chance to share.
Since that class I’ve taken AHI classes on Lincoln, FDR and Reagan, Science in Government and the Concept of Liberty. The quality has remained at a graduate level in my experience. The articles we have been given to read have been well researched. In themselves they have been eye openers of thought from impressive sources. The students are an educated group of teachers and well-read professionals along with those intellectually curious. I have differed in opinion but not in respect for the material and the running of the class, down to making sure the room temperature is comfortable.
Outstanding, I will attend again. I minored in Education so I observe with some knowledge. I am an Independent but with a liberal lean but in this class thought became the predominant dominant.”
Donald Scagel, Saquoit, New York
“I found AHI classes to be educational and thought provoking, really pushing me to reach out and grasp so many foreign concepts and ideas. The readings for the classes where thorough and well put together, as well as intriguing because so much of it was brand new information for me. Mr. Frisk was careful to explain some of the harder parts of the readings, which I appreciated, and was excellent at leading and directing the discussions. I learned a great deal from the classes and I’m excited to learn more from them!”
Shawlame Gorman, Oneida, New York
I have loved taking classes at AHI. Coming together as a community of learners to freely discuss interesting topics is always a highlight of the week for me. The classes are convenient and low-stress, which encourage participation. The topics and themes are wide-ranging and allow for excellent learning opportunities from the diverse members of the class. The professor does his thorough research in order to present a fascinating lecture on the topic. And the interesting readings stimulate class members to share points of interests, experiences, and expertise. I always walk away from a Monday night class with much to think about. As a teacher, it has helped me grow and continue my learning. I often try to incorporate relevant material from the classes into my classroom. It is for this reason that in-service credit is accepted by taking these free classes. I cannot recommend that classes at AHI highly enough. It is a wonderful thing, especially in today’s political climate, for a group to come together, share different viewpoints, discuss interesting topics, value listening, and learn from one another.
Sean Dwyer, New Hartford, NY, 2019
“Thank you so much for showing us the hospitality of your historic downtown headquarters, and for the bonhomie with which you and your associates (including the young man who kindly helped me unload my car upon arrival) graced our stay . . . . Those who visited us there—a reasonably sober and sedate group, I trust—were all impressed with the accommodations.”
Hamilton College alumnus, Class of 1969