Union prepares to celebrate Founders Day

Publication Date

Noted economist, scholar and educator Catharine Bond Hill will deliver the keynote address at Founders Day Thursday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

The event commemorates the 224th anniversary of the College’s charter.

Hill’s talk will center on coeducation at Union, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of admitting women in 2020. The talk is free and open to the public.

Hill’s work focuses on higher education affordability and access, as well as on economic development and reform in Africa. She is managing director of Ithaka S+R, a higher education consulting firm.

Catharine Bond Hill

Hill served as president of Vassar College from 2006 to 2016, when the college reinstated need-blind admissions and replaced loans with grants for low-income families.

In 2015, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awarded Vassar the inaugural million-dollar prize for Equity in Educational Excellence for its efforts to expand access and support to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. While at Vassar, Hill also established a first-of-its-kind veterans admission partnership with the Posse Foundation.

After graduating summa cum laude from Williams College, Hill earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brasenose College, University of Oxford, with first-class honors in politics, philosophy and economics. She completed her Ph.D. in economics at Yale in 1985.

Also at Founders Day, the College will present the Gideon Hawley Teacher Recognition Award. Named for the 1809 graduate of Union who was New York State’s first superintendent of public education, the award is given to secondary school teachers who have had a continuing influence on the academic life of Union students.

The ceremony also will include the presentation of the Stillman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The prize was created by David I. Stillman ’72, Abbott Stillman ’69 and Allan Stillman in honor of Abraham Stillman, father and grandfather. It is given annually to a faculty member to encourage outstanding teaching.

In addition, the Hollander Prize in Music, established by Lawrence J. Hollander, the late dean of engineering emeritus, will be awarded.

Founded in 1795, Union was the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York.

Past Founders Day speakers have included Frederick M. Lawrence, secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Russo and James M. McPherson, Paul LeClerc, retired president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library and a former professor at Union, and Alfred Sommer ’63, a global leader in public health whose pioneering work in studying vitamin A deficiency has helped to save millions of children’s lives and eyesight.