As we close out another semester, it is appropriate to look back at what our outstanding young men have been able to accomplish with the mentorship of faculty, staff, and alumni. Thought-provoking presentations that analyze meaningful summer experiences and research papers written over the course of a semester are evidence of the academic rigor at Hampden-Sydney College. Our students write well, communicate effectively, consistently show creativity, and are well prepared to lead meaningful lives beyond the gates.
More importantly, our young men are good young men. They are honest, earnest, thoughtful, and humble. They care more about doing the right thing than doing the thing that will simply earn them a higher grade, more money, or recognition. To paraphrase David Brooks, our students are more concerned about developing eulogy virtues than resume virtues. Character development and holistic education with the goal of producing young men willing and able to serve others for a lifetime are still the pillars of the Hampden-Sydney experience and ethos.
In many ways, Hampden-Sydney College—and the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest by extension—is countercultural, just as we were in 1775 when our College’s founders built a College to produce the future leaders of our yet-to-be-created republic. They built a College meant to have a positive impact on the nation’s culture at large; we follow their example and remain inspired by their courage and foresight. Where we see a breakdown in our civic discourse, we teach civility and respect. Where we see a breakdown of common bonds, we teach the importance of institutions that bind us together. Where we see a breakdown of leadership, we teach about leadership for the common good and the importance of giving up to receive more. Where we see a breakdown of trust, we teach leadership that focuses on honesty, service, and respect. We are confident that our communities, commonwealth, and country will be stronger because of the positive impact our young men will have on the world beyond the gates.
In this season of thanks, let us all be thankful for the outstanding young men who learn here at the Wilson Center. They want nothing more than to become the very best versions of themselves and to be part of a community dedicated to lasting ideals. Let us also give thanks for those faculty, staff, and alumni who embrace our wonderful young men and help provide the best possible experience.
Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season. Please join us for an event on campus this spring semester. You are always welcome.
Dr. Ryan Pemberton ’00
Director of the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest
When he was selected as president of Hampden-Sydney College in the summer of 1992, General Wilson noted, “The single most important person walking this campus is the student, followed closely thereafter by the faculty and staff who serve as his mentor. The single most important thing that happens on this campus is that colloquy between the student and his mentor. All else is secondary and supporting.”
Faculty and staff are called to help these superior young men become the very best versions of themselves. These “men of character who will lead lives of consequence” are worthy of our support and guidance.
Please enjoy this issue’s spotlight on seniors Coleman Meadows and Jackson Aherron.
Wilson Archival Update
The Lt. General Samuel V. Wilson Archival Project continues to take shape . The Atkinson Museum of Hampden-Sydney College hosted an exhibit this semester to highlight the archive. Read more about the exhibit in the Farmville Herald here and on the College’s website here.
Wilson Center in the News
In honor of Veteran’s Day, Wheat Professor John Hillen, hosted a special conversation with H.R. McMaster titled “Preserving the Warrior Ethos.” Wilson Center faculty and alumni continue to lead important civic conversations. To read more from Dr. Marion, Dr. Hillen, and others, click here.
From One Hill to Another
Building a network of alumni, exposing students to potential career and internship opportunities, and providing practical experiences that enhance theoretical learning in the Washington D.C., area are strategic priorities for the Wilson Center. Dr. Marion and Dr. Pemberton led a group of 50 students to Washington for meetings with alumni and friends on November 10. Read more here.
Fall Events Highlighted by the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Symposium
Leading practitioners and policy experts visit campus to interact with our students to help connect theory and practice. Our fall event series was highlighted by a symposium that analyzed the U.S. response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
We also celebrated Constitution Day with Alison Orr Larsen, who is a professor of law and the director of the Alfred Wilson & Mary I.W. Lee and the Institute for the Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School. She gave an outstanding talk titled “Protecting Constitutional Discourse in an Age of Echo Chambers.” You may watch the talk on YouTube here.
Chris Peace ’98, former member of the Virginia General Assembly, provided an analysis of the 2021 Virginia elections. A group of College faculty analyzed the role of authoritarians and populists around the world.
Join us this spring as we celebrate President’s Day and Black History Month, analyze potential redistricting efforts in Virginia, talk with alumni who ran for public office, and hear from an entrepreneur.
Exciting Experiential Learning Outing in Dr. Hillen’s Strategic Leadership in American Institutions Class
Many courses at the Wilson Center incorporate experiential learning opportunities into the course design. Find out more about a particularly fascinating and creative staff ride developed by our Wheat Professor John Hillen in his class titled Strategic Leadership in American Institutions here.
Fall Wilson Leadership Fellows Program Highlights
The Wilson Leadership Fellows Program continues to be a highlight of all Wilson Center activity. 185 students currently take part in the four-year co-curricular program. Foundational pillars include active citizenship, leadership in diverse contexts, civil discourse, and ethical decision-making. Read more for pictures and updates from our busy fall calendar here.