Student Awards

The Harvey B. Morgan Public Service Award is presented annually to a graduating senior who has successfully completed the requirements of the Public Service Program at Hampden-Sydney College, who has demonstrated an interest in public service at the local or state level, and whose integrity and excellence of character reflect those qualities as evidenced in the life of Harvey B. Morgan ‘52.

Kevin Canny headshot standing in Washington DC

Congratulations to the 2020 recipient, Kevin Canny ’21. Kevin was a top student and very active during his time at the College.  He earned a Harrison Merit Scholarship; served as the single student representative on the Academic Affairs Committee; member of the Garnett and Grey Society; Vice President of the Rotoract Club; a Rhetoric Studio Consultant;  a member of the Martin Leadership Program as a Freshman; founded the Alexander Hamilton Society (a student group dedicated to studying and preparing for careers in national security); interned at the White House; and was elected into the following academic honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Phi Sigma Iota. After a summer internship with the DIA, Kevin plans to pursue a career as either a civil servant or political appointee within the federal government.

Each year the James Y. Simms National Security Studies Award is presented to a graduating senior who has excelled in the field of national security studies, completed the requirements of the National Security Studies minor at Hampden-Sydney College; who has demonstrated leadership and service; and whose integrity and excellence of character reflect those qualities as evidenced in the life of James Y. Simms.

Christopher Thompson standing with a professor

Congratulations to the 2020 award recipient, Christopher Thompson ’21.  Christopher was also a top student and very active during his time at the College.  He earned a Harrison Merit Scholarship; served as a student court investigator; completed both the Martin Leadership Program and the Society of ’91 Leadership programs; was President of the Rugby Club; founded the YMCA Congress Club at Hampden-Sydney; interned at the FBI; and was selected into the following academic honor societies: Omicron Delta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Phi Alpha Theta.  Chris plans to serve as a Management Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton after graduation.

Congratulations to both of these outstanding young men.  You exemplify the best of our student body—we know you will lead meaningful lives of service.

Matthew Marsh ’22

Matt Marsh headshot
Matt Marsh ’22

Why I chose H-SC: I came to Hampden-Sydney because I knew it would be the place where I could thrive with like-minded people.  I also appreciated the meaningful alumni network.

Involvement: I’m in the Four Year leadership program, Chi Phi Fraternity, I’ve served as Student Body Secretary-Treasurer, a Student Court member and the Future Educators Club.

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Center: I’ve enjoyed the opportunities it has presented to connect with other students.  I have also been able to as well as develop my own personal leadership skills, which should help me in the future.

Matt Marsh sitting on a terrace

The WLFP has supported my personal growth by pushing me to recognize my own potential to make a difference in the world. People often lose sight of their guiding principles and the program has helped me to identify my own guiding principles and apply them to my interactions with others.

After Hampden-Sydney: I’d like to work on the Hill for a few years after graduation then attend law school or get my MPA.  I am excited that the Wilson Center has graduate agreements in place with Cornell, Pepperdine and UVA.  This summer I’ll be working for a biopharmaceutical company in their government affairs department.  I will also be training for to complete a triathlon.

M.K. Johnston ’22

MK Johnston headshot
M.K. Johnston

Why I chose H-SC: I chose H-SC because of the exacting and rigorous academic program, the wonderful people, and the excellent alumni network. H-SC is an institution in which I knew from the beginning that I would thrive as a student, young man, and leader in and out of the classroom. I also knew that H-SC would put me in an ideal situation for success in my future endeavors. From the outside looking in, I saw a sense of love, family, and brotherhood at H-SC.  There was no other place I wanted to invest four years of my life to receive a college education. 

The H-SC experience has been a gold mine of developmental opportunities. On top of playing two years for the varsity basketball team, my time here has so far allowed me to participate in the Pre-Law Society, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Brother4Brother mentorship program, the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society, as well as the inaugural class of the Wilson Fellows Leadership program. My fellow students also trusted me with the opportunity to serve as the president of the H-SC Islamic Society, which I did happily while also working a job at the campus library. 

MK Johnston in a suit

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Fellows Leadership program are the countless seminars and programs that not only focused on leadership, but also on various aspects of honing and developing my personality, character, and mentality.  These sessions enabled me to develop my leadership capabilities to take on the world by enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. 

The Wilson Fellows Leadership Program has helped me grow as a student, person, and leader, by exposing me to valuable information such as public speaking, important leadership characteristics, and team-building exercises, just to name a few.  Thanks to the mentoring program, networking opportunities, help with internships, etc., the Wilson Fellows Leadership Program has put me in a position to continue to be a successful student, person, and leader. 

This summer I will be interning at the H-SC Alumni office, while also prepping and studying to take the LSAT in October.  I will also be starting a new chapter in my life by getting married. After my journey has ended at H-SC, I plan to enroll in law school.

Wilson Archival Update

Since last reporting, the processing of the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers is finishing up. All photographs and documents have been placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Dr. Colin Woodward, the Project Archivist, has organized the collection at the folder level to allow for easy access to materials. He has also compiled an extensive and detailed finding aid that he will upload to ArchivesSpace, Hampden-Sydney’s online archival catalog.

Researchers can view the finding aid on the internet through the new Archives & Special Collections library portal. The finding aid will also be made available as a downloadable PDF file. The finished finding aid will be approximately 300 pages long, with a detailed breakdown of all items in the collection and where they are located.

The collection, which numbers 307 boxes, is organized into various series covering major portions of Sam’s life and career, with materials organized chronologically within each series. The papers begin with Wilson family genealogical material before moving into Sam’s early military career, including his time in Merrill’s Marauder’s during World War II, his Cold War era intelligence work, and his time as an advisor and commander in Vietnam. Sam’s papers include thousands of letters, military records, and photographs as well as Sam’s speeches, personal writings, and family correspondence. Known as the Samuel Vaughan Wilson Papers, this collection is the centerpiece of the newly created Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections.

In April, the Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum opened an exhibit dedicated to General Wilson. The exhibit contains photographs and memorabilia chosen by Dr. Woodward for the exhibit. Among the items on display are Sam’s desk and Special Forces uniform, as well as many photographs from his life and career. Angela Way, director and curator of the Atkinson Museum, worked together with Dr. Woodward, Richard McClintock, and student assistants to put the exhibit together. The exhibit is free and open to the public and will run through the end of the fall semester.

In April, Colin Woodward and Ryan Pemberton held an online Q&A session to discuss the Wilson collection. The session was well attended, with many people viewing the discussion virtually. Ryan and Colin talked for about an hour, discussing General Wilson’s life and the processing of the collection.  In late May, Dr. Woodward is driving to meet Colonel Sam Wilson, Jr. at his home in New Jersey. Sam Jr. has additional books, maps, and archival material that he wishes to donate to the Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections. Colin will integrate the new material into the collection before the project concludes in June.  

Wilson Center Events 2020-21

In spite of the ongoing pandemic and our inability to host lectures, talks and symposia, the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, in conjunction with the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, held seven virtual talks for the greater community this spring. Our alumni registered in droves for the Zoom talks!  We averaged 75-80 participants for each session and are excited to have engaged with so many alumni, parents, and friends. We plan to provide a streaming option for our in-person talks this fall.  

We began the semester with a fireside conversation with Dr. John Hillen, Wheat Professor of Leadership, and a panel of Wilson Center Faculty Fellows.  Dr. Jennifer Vitale, Dr. Viktoria Basham, and Dr. Hillen, both Wilson Center Faculty Fellows, discussed the need to teach leadership across time, discipline, and culture.  As fellows, they each restructured a course to include leadership theory offered to freshmen in the Wilson Leadership Fellows program.  Both Fellows also help connect the academic and co-curricular offerings at the Wilson Center to faculty across multiple disciplines on campus. Dr. Hillen followed up this talk with a presentation later in the semester entitled, “The Quest for Trust: Institutional Leadership and the Rebuilding of Confidence in American Institutions”

In collaboration with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Wilson Center hosted a talk with Sekou Kaalund ’97 to celebrate Black History Month.  Kaalund currently serves as head of Consumer Banking for the Northeast Division at Chase.  He previously led the Advancing Black Pathways Initiative at Chase-a $30 billion effort to combine the company’s business and philanthropic resources to focus on helping people of color realize their dreams through home ownership, increased savings and investments, entrepreneurial endeavors, and access to well-paying career paths.

Postponed by the ice storm, we held President’s Day 2021 in March.  Noted historian at the University of Texas, Dr. H. W. Brands, gave an informative talk about the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Adam Christensen ’16 spoke about his exciting run as the Democratic nominee for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

In late March, we held a panel discussion on leadership in K-12 education.  Our panelists were alumni who currently lead independent and public schools.   Special thank you to the Rev. Dr. Anthony Sgro ’88, Asheville School, Timothy Beatty ‘97, Heritage HS in Lynchburg, and Harrison Stuart ’02, Episcopal School of Nashville, for their participation.

Dr. Colin Woodward led our final talk of the semester.  Dr. Woodward began working at Hampden-Sydney in 2019 as the Archivist for the LTG Samuel V. Wilson Collection.  Dr. Woodward spent the past two years organizing, cataloging, and digitizing the boxes of personal items donated to Hampden-Sydney College by General Wilson’s family.  More about this special and meaningful collection appears later in the newsletter.

Wilson Leadership Fellows Program Updates

Year One 

students in a church sanctuary with their masks on

 In spite of the precautions and procedures surrounding the pandemic, we were able to adapt and adjust in order to provide students with a meaningful array of events. Sixty-nine Wilson Fellows arrived on campus for the pre-term workshop in late August. During the three-day workshop, the guys hiked the Wilson Trail, completed the leadership reaction course and high ropes obstacle course, tackled a case study on the 1996 Everest Expeditions, discussed leadership vocabulary and development, learned about citizenship and statesmanship, and watched The Crossing and Shorty.  The semester began with an address from President Stimpert on the distinctive nature of our College and its connection to the founding of our republic. The American Shakespeare Center came to campus for an outdoor workshop on leading where you stand. Through dialogue and scene reenactment, the guys learned how to make the most of a situation and audience. We held a workshop with a facilitator from the Federal Executive Institute on personality testing; each of the fellows took the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and learned how to engage with those whose traits conflicted with their own. The last session for the semester was led by Hile Rutledge ’89 who conducted a workshop on emotional intelligence. 

Year Two 

students stand in a semi circle with masks on

The Society of ’91 was established during the presidency of LTG Sam Wilson to recognize the spirit of selfless service and leadership of one of the College’s early classes (1791).  The goal was to provide student leaders with foundational leadership theory and practical skills. Sessions this fall began with an address from President Stimpert who focused on the connection between entrepreneurship and leadership. Fellows were divided into smaller groups and worked with a faculty member. Smaller groups had meaningful discussions after watching Lincoln and reading All the King’s Men. Cainan Townsend from the Moton Museum led a discussion with Fellows in Years Two and Three of the program about leadership in diverse contexts and specifically having conversations with your head and heart.   

Year Three 

students sitting outdoors with masks on

The purpose of Year Three is to help Fellows consider not just what they want to be after graduation but who they want to be. The Fellows began the year with a kick-off dinner and discussion led by small group facilitators. In September, Joe Dunn ’93 spoke to the group about his fascinating career and about making wise and ethical financial decisions. Patrick Wilson, Clerk of Faculty, gave the group a full lesson in Robert’s Rules of Order. Fellows also teamed with the Society of ’91 to hear Cainan Townsend of the Moton Museum talk about leadership in diverse contexts and communicating with your head and heart. Finally, Dr. Christina McRorie, from Creighton University, led a discussion that focused on moral leadership in markets. 

Wilson Archive Update

Since last reporting, much progress has been made on the processing of the Samuel V. Wilson Papers. All items have been placed in acid-free folders and boxes. The collection has been organized at the folder level to allow for easier access to materials. Dr. Colin Woodward, Hampden-Sydney’s Project Archivist, has been working for months on a finding aid that will be uploaded to the Hampden-Sydney College Archives and Special Collections’ catalog and will also be available as a PDF. When finished, the finding aid will be 150 pages long, providing researchers with a detailed breakdown of materials in the collection and where they are located. 

The collection is organized into various series covering major portions of Wilson’s life and career. The papers begin with Wilson family genealogical material before moving into Sam’s early military days, including his time in Merrill’s Marauders during World War II, his Cold War intelligence work, and his time as a commander in Vietnam. The collection includes thousands of letters, military papers, and photographs, as well as Sam’s speeches, personal writings, and family correspondence. The Samuel Vaughn Wilson Papers will serve as the centerpiece of the newly created Hampden-Sydney College Archives and Special Collections.   

In December, Colin Woodward met with veteran, poet, and H-SC faculty member Alan Farrell for an interview at Bortz Library. Dr. Farrell was a professor of modern languages at Hampden-Sydney for over twenty years before working at the Virginia Military Institute. He also served in Special Forces during the Vietnam conflict and was training at Fort Bragg when Colonel Sam was there (though the two did not meet until later). Woodward and Farrell talked for over an hour about Dr. Farrell’s life and career as well as his admiration for Wilson and friendship with him. The interview is available at Colin Woodward’s General Wilson blog.      

Angela Way and Richard McClintock have been meeting with Woodward to plan an exhibit on General Wilson for the Hampden-Sydney Museum. The exhibit will feature memorabilia, exhibit panels, and enlarged photographs that will tell the story of Wilson’s life and career. The exhibit will open in March. 

In the spring, Dr. Woodward will give a talk on General Wilson at the Virginia Forum. Using photographs from the collection, Woodward will provide a brief overview of General Sam’s contributions, and will also discuss the processing of the collection and its opening to researchers in July. The time and date of the talk is uncertain at this time. The conference has been rescheduled due to the ongoing pandemic.  

The acquisition of the Samuel Vaughn Wilson papers has had a positive ripple effect for Archives and Special Collections at Hampden-Sydney. In March of 2020, political strategist and former Nixon campaigner Ken Rietz transferred his papers to the college. The collection includes personal papers, including correspondence, campaign proposals, memoranda, visual media, photographs, and a large amount of original campaign paraphernalia, representing over thirty years of Republican candidates at the national and state level. Selections from these materials, including buttons, posters, and bumper stickers from Rietz’s inspired “Young Voters for the President” campaign in 1972, are currently on display in Bortz Library. 

With the help of Merrill’s Marauders liaison officer Jonnie Melillo Clasen and the Wilson Center, H-SC Archives and Special Collections were able to secure the acquisition of over thirty linear feet of historical material related to Merrill’s Marauders in March of 2020. These materials include General Orders, Special Orders, photographs, oral histories, and a database of soldier names, all meticulously maintained and collected by Hansel Haycox, Merrill’s Marauders descendant historian, together with former Marauder and official historian of the unit, Bob Passanisi.  

The acquisition of these collections ensures that researchers will have other in-house archival collections available for more targeted research, if they so choose. Archival and Digital Projects Librarian Sarah Almond, hired in March of 2020, will begin processing both collections early this year with an eye towards having them available in tandem with the July release of the Samuel Vaughn Wilson Collection to the public.   

A public exhibition of the Wilson Collection is planned at the College’s Atkinson Museum this March.  Please stay tuned for more information! 

Wilson Center in the News

Col. William Anderson ‘67, USA Ret., former member, Wilson Center Board of Advisors 
Candid advice for those wanting to pursue legal careers with overseas organizations,” Lawfire, November 30, 2020 

The Honorable John Hillen, James C. Wheat Professor in Leadership; former Trustee of H-SC 
How to Remember Pearl Harbor Day,” National Review, December 7, 2020 

The Honorable John Hillen, James C. Wheat Professor in Leadership; former Trustee of H-SC 
Don’t add elections to the eroding trust in American institutions,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 28, 2020 

Dr. David E. Marion, Elliott Emeritus Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs and Wilson Center faculty fellow
Civic Education for a Madisonian America: An Essay in Honor of Ronald L. Heinemann,” December 2020

Spring Virtual Event Series

Fireside Chat
The Need to Teach Leadership Across Time, Cultures, and Disciplines  
January 27, 7pm 
The Hon. Dr. John Hillen moderates a conversation with Wilson Center Teaching Fellows, Dr. Viktoria Basham and Dr. Jennifer Vitale 

Black History Month Celebration
Wealth, Race, and Collective Action: Advancing Equity in America
February 4, 7pm  
In partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion,
 Sekou Kaalund ’97

President’s Day 2021
February 16, 7pm   
The Last Romantic, the First Modern President:
Theodore Roosevelt in the White House, 
Dr. Henry W. Brands           

Leadership in K-12 Education
March 10,  7pm   
Rev. Dr. Anthony Sgro ’88, Asheville School 
Timothy Beatty ’97, Heritage HS Lynchburg 
Harrison Stuart ’02, Episcopal School of Nashville 

A Recent Graduate in the Arena
March 1, 7pm  
Adam Christensen ’16 and his run for Congress  

The Quest for Trust
March 24,  7pm  
Institutional Leadership and The Rebuilding of Confidence in American Institutions, 
The Hon. Dr. John Hillen 

Lt. General Samuel V. Wilson—A Life of Service
April 13, 7pm 
A discussion with Dr. Colin Woodward, Wilson Archivist 

Remembering Ronald Lynton Heinemann, Squires Professor Emeritus of History

The Hampden-Sydney community lost a legend this November. Dr. Ronald Heinemann will be remembered for his charismatic lectures, strong opinions, humor, outstanding scholarship, humility, and service to this community, our commonwealth, and our republic. Dr. Heinemann was a longtime supporter of the Summer College and the Wilson Center lectures and programs. He was awarded the James Madison Award for service to the Wilson Center in the spring of 2018.   

Dr. Heinemann epitomized the very best of what it meant to be a professor at Hampden-Sydney College and at any institution committed to liberal education. He was an outstanding scholar, noted by many in his discipline, but was superbly gifted in the classroom and dedicated to teaching. He had many deeply held opinions, but was objective, open-minded, and always willing to listen and acknowledge strong points, even when they differed with his opinions. He critiqued the institution but did so out of love, respect and hope for positive change. He ultimately served this institution he loved for parts of seven decades. Most importantly, students were at the heart of what he did. He held students accountable, pushed, critiqued, and thoroughly enjoyed teaching, shaping, and molding 18-22 year old young men. 

Dr.  Heinemann was committed to the College, to liberal arts education, and to our mission of forming good men and good citizens with the hope that the students would serve others, and in so doing would help perpetuate our republic. Transcendent values like service, honesty, objectivity, community, the transfer and building of knowledge, and care for the underserved defined his professional life.  

May his life of service stand as model for current and future Hampden-Sydney faculty, staff, and students.  May we continue to remember Mrs. Sandy Heinemann, their daughter Erica, son David, grandchildren, extended family, and friends in our thoughts and our prayers. 

Please be on the lookout for additional information about ways Dr. Heinemann will be honored by the Wilson Center, the History Department, and the College.   

Enjoy some remembrances from his colleagues at the Wilson Center:

Farmville Herald Article 

Talk with Drs. Simms and Heinemann 

Electoral College Debate with Drs. Marion and Heinemann 

Dr. John Eastby 

When I was asked to add to the remembrances of Ron, I was not sure where to begin. I have only been here since 1989, and Ron was already twenty years into his career when I came to know him. Unlike several member of my department, (Political Science at the time) I did not have an office on the third floor of Morton so, excepting as I had a class on the floor, I did not see Ron often nor have occasion to interact professionally with him on any regular basis.  We knew who each other was, and from early on, I understood that Ron was an important member of the Four Horsemen of the History Department (Jim Simms, Amos Lee Laine, and Keith Fitch). Ron and I seldom had any sustained interaction and he was not on the same committees as I was during that time.  

 It was really not for another ten years after I arrived, I suppose, that I came to know Ron beyond the acquaintance level. Oddly enough, the circumstances were not academic but musical, and religious music in particular. Rondi and I had begun attending College Church almost immediately after arriving at H-SC, and Rondi joined the choir quite early in our time here, but I did not. I am not even sure when I did finally join, but it can be placed somewhere in the late 1990’s. Ron sang tenor, and I was a baritone, but there were times when another tenor was needed. Gradually, I began singing tenor as often as I was singing bass or baritone, and it was in that role that I think I most fully came to know Ron. He had a very nice tenor voice–smooth, and gentle–if I may put it that way. His pitch and sense of rhythm were both sound, and he was a regular in attendance, both for practice and on Sunday.   

Although I was a genuine latecomer, the tenors section (he and Dr. Tom Mayo having anchored the section for some time before I joined) I always felt welcome. Anyway, to get to the main point, it was in the choir that I got to know Ron and to see the ways in which his public or teaching life flowed out of his personal life. In practice he wanted to make sure we got things right melodically and rhythmically.  His entrances were always firm and confident. Even when West Wing was calling, he was willing to go over a part or a piece one more time to make sure we had the music. He was almost invariably upbeat and positive in rehearsal and on Sundays. Before or after rehearsal (and sometimes while the sopranos went over a part) we almost always had occasion to discuss something related to the well-being of the College (and it was never far from his mind), or the state of the nation and the Commonwealth, or the Detroit Tigers.   

And so it was on Wednesday nights that I got to see Ron in regular action and to see the depth of his sense of care for the well-being of the institution, and particularly, the education of our students. What always stood out, even from vantage of a choir conversation, was that his concern was not just that they acquire some detail of historical knowledge, or hone their ability to write, but that they develop a moral alertness as the touchstone for interpreting the history or the news they (and we) are bombarded with daily. And so, most every week during the fall and spring (summers were down time for the choir), I was gradually provided the opportunity to encounter Ron, not just as a colleague, but a fellow singer, church congregant, and friend.  When Ron became ill and need treatments in Richmond a few years back, he asked me to drive him for one of the visits. We had a far ranging conversation of the type one only gets to have on rare occasions, and it will probably be the memory of that day that will stick with me most fully in the coming years.  

It was partly that engagement that gave me the idea to use Ron and others to help in a course that Dr. Ken Lehman and I put together about two years ago now. Ron had played an important part in planning and producing the Vietnam War Conference back in 1992–certainly the most remarkable conference I ever had occasion to observe here or anywhere else. General Sam Wilson had wanted to use that conference as a resource for the students, but we had not followed up on that fully over the years.  However, after some conversation with Dr. Lehman, we dusted off the tapes and used them as a basis for reconsidering American participation in the war. As we planned the program, it increasingly seemed appropriate to bring in some of the original H-SC contributors to the panels. These include Dr. Alan Farrell, Dr. Jim Simms and of course Dr. Heinemann. We brought them in twice each, and we also used B.A. Klein for a session as well. And in all four cases, their presentations and discussions went beyond what Ken and I could have hoped for. I am not sure that, without having come to know Ron in choir and the discussions that grew out of that experience, it would have occurred to me (us) to offer the special topics course and to bring Ron and the others in, but Ron was immediately supportive of the project. And as I say, he did not disappoint. He (and Alan and Jim) being contemporaries of the war and participants in the conference brought a life to our discussion which will always make that course one of the significant memories of my time at H-SC.  

I am sure that by living in this academic village for thirty years I would have come to know Ron regardless, but, as I hope I made clear above, it was, I think, the regular contact and opportunities made possible in the somewhat unlikely venue of College Church Choir that led to many, if not most, of my strongest memories of Ron. It was in College Church that the colleague I first met in the halls of Morton became a friend and something of a model for understanding education, not simply as the assimilation of information, but as the development of a serious moral capacity by which to filter and use that information.   

Dr. Caroline Emmons 

A sad year became sadder still when our College community lost two longtime faculty members with the deaths of Tom De Wolfe, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, and Ron Heinemann, Squires Emeritus Professor of History. Both men had taught at the College for decades, shaping not only the academic program, but also the lives of thousands of young men. As a member of the History Department, I worked most closely with Ron Heinemann and, indeed, had been hired to be his replacement in teaching 20th-century American History. Of course, no one could replace Ron, and he was never really ready to retire. As a result, I had the opportunity to be his colleague more than his successor. In important respects, Ron shaped my understanding of what it means to be an effective faculty member at Hampden-Sydney: a passion for teaching, a commitment to the ideals upon which the college was founded and, above all, dedication to the education of our students. 

Many students and alumni have shared memories of Ron and the experience of taking classes with him. One I’ve heard most often recalls the first day of Ron’s Civil War class, when he habitually proclaimed to students that Robert E. Lee was a traitor, a shocking assertion for many raised on a very different historical interpretation. While Ron may not have persuaded all of his students to accept this view —although more than a few have said they were persuaded, to their own surprise— he was such a forceful and effective lecturer that most were enthralled from that moment forward. I learned from Ron that, while our students may be taken aback when presented with challenging or unwelcome information, if I was rigorous with them and with myself, fearless in presenting the historical record, and uncompromising in expecting them to use evidence and reason to support their positions, I could be successful in Hampden-Sydney classrooms. I have always found this to be true. Ron pushed all of us to be better: better at explaining and defending our views, better at nurturing our students in their intellectual growth, and better at serving as stewards of the College he loved so well. 

Dr. David Marion 

Remembering a Good Man and a Good Citizen 

Ronald Heinemann was not a quiet or timid member of the Hampden-Sydney community—he made his presence felt around campus, and beyond the campus as well.  He was unquestionably a consequential member of the Hampden-Sydney family, and the depth of his commitment to making a difference was reflected in the energy, passion, and serious thought that he invested in his teaching, his scholarship, his community service, and life itself. His moral convictions defined him in every way that is important, and they were visible for everyone to see—Ron was not one to hide his convictions under a bushel basket.  Our conversations over a period of more than forty years, some of them public and some private, were often spirited and always enlightening. Our last public debate, on the merits of the Electoral College, took place less than a month before his untimely death. His criticism of the Electoral College was tough and informed, and his stamina at 81 left me at 72 feeling rather aged. I apologized the next morning for the occasional aggressiveness of my defense of the Electoral College only to have him respond that debates should be spirited. He could be spirited himself, but he was always a gentleman.  Ron was emblematic of what was best about the Hampden-Sydney College that I joined in the mid-1970s—it will be a shame if the qualities that defined him are not also emblematic of what is the best about Hampden-Sydney College in the decades to come.  

Dr. Jim Simms 

Written by his dear friend and long-time colleague, Dr. Jim Simms, as Dr. Heinemann was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion 

Our second honoree for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion is Ronald Lynton Heinemann, Squires Professor Emeritus of History. Professor Heinemann began his teaching career at Hampden-Sydney College in 1968, teaching American History, specifically the era of the Civil War and 20th Century U.S. History, and retiring from full-time teaching in 2004. Continuing to teach on a part-time basis, Professor Heinemann has just completed his thirty-ninth year of service to the College, a service that on any standard would be considered outstanding—outstanding as one of the most renowned and respected teachers at Hampden-Sydney College in the last half of the 20th century. He has received teaching awards on six different occasion: the Settle Trustees Prize for outstanding teaching and scholarship, the Cabell Teaching Award, and four Fuqua Teaching Awards voted on by the students. Professor Heinemann has also been outstanding as a scholar, being an authority on Virginia History and having authored or edited four monographs and published several articles pertaining to the Commonwealth.  His most important book is the very highly praised biography of an icon of Virginia politics–Harry Byrd.  In addition, he is frequently asked to give lectures on Virginia’s history and politics around the state. His record as a scholar and teacher make him a standout even within the very talented and productive faculty at Hampden-Sydney—primus inter pares.  

But, Professor Heinemann’s service to the College transcends being just a teacher and scholar. A good liberal arts education is only one aspect of the Hampden-Sydney experience—albeit quite important.  Hampden-Sydney is also about the formation “of good men and good citizens,” and once again Professor Heinemann has been an outstanding servant of this College as a role model for her sons.  Among his many personality strengths is a strong moral ethos which informs his person, his teaching, and his scholarship. Dr. Heinemann believes that the historian must do more than simply recount the past and study history for its own sake. He believes that the historian functions as the moral conscience of the society. Ultimately, the historian must assess the past and make moral judgments which are intended to inform the students’ judgments about the present and reinforce the values brought with the student to the College. It is indicative of the presence of moral issues in his classroom that before his first semester at Hampden-Sydney was completed, the students had given him the sobriquet “Righteous Ronnie,” not a appellation of derision, but one of sincere affection and respect. 

One might argue that what is more important to the student than the facts and dates of the past or even the moral assessment that one may make—history after all is a matter of interpretation—is the professor himself. Students will forget the details of the past, i.e. who was the “Rock of Chicaumaugua,” or what was General Westmoreland’s strategy at Khe Son., but they will not forget the experience of being in Professor Heinemann’s class. Dr. Heinemann was and still is an example of what is truly to be admired in a professor. He presented to his students a dignified persona, and by respecting his student he engendered their respect. To conduct oneself with dignity was the standard for both student and professor. His students observed that taking pride in one’s work and hard work itself are admirable traits. They learned that being passionate about life and about one’s profession are positive virtues. They observed that one should have the courage of his convictions, as he himself demonstrated on a number of issues over the years. And they observed that caring for the downtrodden and rejecting discrimination is an obligation of all good men and good citizens.  And they understood that while he was preaching to them, instructing them, and criticizing them, he cared deeply about them as young people and about their spiritual and moral well-being. The students knew that he liked them. Ultimately, it is who he was and is as a person that is his most important gift to his students and this College community. 

Professor Heinemann has made teaching at Hampden-Sydney his life’s work in the vein of Brinkley, Thompson, Crawley, Bliss, Ferenz, Gilmer …. Working here was not simply a nice way to earn a living; working here was a commitment to a way of life. A man of dedication, honor, and integrity, Professor Heinemann has unreservedly given of himself to this College, the community and his students and is a worthy recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion.