Rebuffed by Hamilton College, three professors are establishing The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization as an independent center.
The professors decided to set up the institute separate from the school after Hamilton officials opposed the center last year because of concerns about its autonomy.
The Alexander Hamilton Institute will be located off campus in a historic mansion formerly known as the Alexander Hamilton Inn and will work to promote scholarship and debate in the study of freedom, democracy, and capitalism within the larger tradition of Western culture, said Robert Paquette, a history professor and one of the institute’s founders.
Programming will begin in the 2007-2008 academic year and center on annual themes examined through a mix of lectures, colloquia, conferences, fellowships, internships, and awards, Paquette said Monday. The institute’s programming will be guided by an outside board of academic advisers composed of distinguished scholars from different disciplines, he said.
In its first year, the institute will explore the vital role of upstate New York in ending slavery in the United States. In its second year, the institute will examine property rights and the history of eminent domain.
In 2009 the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth the institute will focus on how Lincoln and other great figures in American history have understood the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
When it was first proposed last year, the center was to be governed by an independent, self-perpetuating board on which only one seat was assured to be a Hamilton faculty member. Some administrators and faculty members complained that the center would have more independence from the rest of the college than any other academic unit.
After approving the center, the school rescinded its support.
Hamilton spokeswoman Vige Barrie said Monday the college had nothing but best wishes for the fledgling institute.
The college’s abrupt reversal last year was widely decried in conservative circles as another example of liberal bias on America’s college campuses, and as retaliation for Paquette’s past activism on campus.
Paquette said the original charter attracted the attention of educators, philanthropists, and alumni around the country and resulted in the rebirth of the center as an independent entity unaffiliated with the college.
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