On 10 November 1775, the first students in the history of Hampden-Sydney College commenced their days on this Hill. It fell to their tutors, President Samuel Stanhope Smith among them, to take this group of boys and, by way of successful completion of the formal curriculum, "to form good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning." This original statement of the College's mission guides us still.
Hampden-Sydney College was dedicated to tutelage in the ancient liberal arts some 235 years ago, just as we are to this day. Still, it is instructive to note that those early students were among the first in what soon would be the United States to be exposed not only to the ancient languages of Latin and Greek but also to have the opportunity to learn French. Samuel Stanhope Smith sought to assure that the graduate would be well-prepared to exercise leadership in the world of the eighteenth century and realized that a Hampden-Sydney graduate should be versed in the language of international diplomacy in that day...which was French.
As I look forward to my formal inauguration as the twenty-fourth President of this venerable institution, you should know that those of us who labor daily on this Hill remain dedicated to honoring our past by cultivating vibrant, relevant curricula and programs to prepare our young men for the professions of the twenty-first century. In the months and years ahead, we will continue to parse the ways in which the liberal arts contribute to what constitutes the good man and good citizen of this day and to consider ways in which subjects unheard of in 1775 might be essential in 2010 and beyond.
I will welcome your thoughts and insights as we work to ensure the Hampden-Sydney man stands ready to exit the gates of this campus with a sound foundation for thriving in this millennium. Together, we will build a better world–one Hampden-Sydney man at a time.