Kirkland College

name = Kirkland College
established = 1968
closed = 1978
type = Private Women's College
city = Clinton
state = New York
country = United States

Kirkland College was a small, private liberal arts women's college located in Clinton, New York from 1968 to 1978.


Planning for Kirkland began during the 1962-1963 academic year, with assistance from then-Hamilton College president Robert W. McEwen. [] It was named after Samuel Kirkland, the founder of Hamilton. Since Hamilton was a men's college prior to 1978, the idea was to make Kirkland its female counterpart. However, two factors led to a more innovative and experimental nature at Kirkland: First, the introduction of progressive views of undergraduate education on the part of Millicent C. McIntosh, former President of Barnard College, and second, the mandate to "start from scratch" without regard to the more traditional patterns at Hamilton, a mandate embraced by Kirkland's president, Samuel F. Babbitt.

Kirkland opened in 1968 on its own campus located adjacent to Hamilton College. The Kirkland faculty and students operated in a more diverse and transparent community than had been the norm at Hamilton, and there were many differences that led to small and large conflicts between the two institutions. Meantime, the economic climate, having been very positive during the planning stages for Kirkland, began to deteriorate. As a result, the debt service accruing to build Kirkland's entirely new campus exerted a tremendous burden on its finances. It was forced to turn to Hamilton for relief. In 1977, Hamilton refused such relief, and the two colleges were merged under protest into a single, coeducation Hamilton in 1978.

Recent Controversies and Kirkland's Legacy Today

When Kirkland was officially incorporated into and absorbed by Hamilton College in 1978, most continuing students elected to join the new co-ed college, and many faculty accepted equivalent positions in Hamilton's departments. Yet discontent at the demise of Kirkland College (to whose ideals of non-traditional education many founding faculty members had wholeheartedly committed themselves) festered long after 1978, and still colors inter-faculty relations and affects campus social dynamics. Since the late 1990s, Freshman Orientation at Hamilton has included a panel of former Kirkland College professors (now Hamilton professors) who explain the history of Kirkland College, and express dismay at the loss of Kirkland values (social equality, feminist ideology, etc.) at Hamilton today.

Over the years, Kirkland's legacy of advancing academic and social gender equality has continued to incorporate related issues, such as racial equality and GLBT tolerance. In the mid-1990s, the Kirkland Project was formed. The pProject's web site describes itself as follows:

The Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture is an on-campus organization committed to social justice, focusing on issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, as well as other facets of human diversity.... The Kirkland Project is named in honor of Kirkland College, from 1968-78 a college for women coordinate with Hamilton. The Project builds on Kirkland's twin legacies of women's education and innovative pedagogy, expanding on them to meet the global challenges that face contemporary male and female students, faculty and staff.

During the 2005 Fall semester, the Kirkland Project announced its seventh annual artist-in-residence would be activist and controversial Clinton pardonee Susan Rosenberg. The artist-in-residence program functioned to bring writers/artists/activists/etc. to campus each spring semester to enrich the campus community, foster creative dialogue, and teach one or two classes on a proseminar basis. Past recipients were far less controversial, and ultimately Rosenberg's engagement by the Project arose loud outcry from the Hamilton community some influential alumni. The firestorm was vociferous enough to prompt Ms. Rosenberg to withdraw from the engagement.

During the same timeframe, the Project had invited highly controversial University of Colorado Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill to speak as part of the Project's 2004-2005 lecture series, "Class in Context: Intersections of Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality and Nationality." His invitation was ultimately canceled by Hamilton College president Joan Hinde Stewart due to death threats, following another campus-wide firestorm of consternation, including some debate and coverage of the event in the national media. [,2933,146039,00.html] []

The name of the college lives on at Hamilton in the form of the Kirkland Alumnae Prize Scholarship that is offered annually to an upper-class female student by the Kirkland College Class of 1974. [] A recent book by Kirkland's former president, gives an intimate history of the college. [] The Hamilton College Bookstore sells various Kirkland merchandise. []

The green apple was a part of the Kirkland College crest, and remains a symbol of Kirkland. During commencement exercises at Hamilton many students and faculty choose to wear a green apple pin on their academic robes to honor Kirkland's legacy. Many graduating seniors also place green apples on the podium prior to receiving their diplomas.

Notable Kirkland people

* Christie Vilsack, a former Kirkland student, was the First Lady of Iowa.

* Joanne Rappaport is Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University.

* Esther Barazzone, a former Kirkland faculty member, is now president of Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. []

* Roz Chast, cartoonist for The New Yorker, is a Kirkland alumna.

ee also

*List of current and historical women's universities and colleges

External links

* [ The Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture]
* [ Hamilton College]

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