May 02, 2011
John B. D. Potter '11
The Wilson Center held its annual spring conference on March 22nd, 23rd, and 30th. This year's symposium dovetailed with the theme of President Howard's inauguration -- Hampden-Sydney as "a national treasure with a regional foundation and a global outlook." Over the course of the conference, scholars, faculty, and friends of the College combined their efforts to provide the campus community with three interesting and informative sessions. The first session featured Dr. Douglas Bradburn, a professor of history at Binghamton University in New York.
Dr. Bradburn's talk, entitled "Liberty's Martyrs: Hampden-Sydney and the Making of Revolutionary Politics," delved into the "roots of the founding of the College." Born on the eve of the American Revolution, H-SC was founded by men who "thought that education was essential to preserving liberty in the face of powerful tyranny." Fittingly, this institution was named in honor of John Hampden and Algernon Sydney, two famous champions of liberty in England in the 17th Century.
The second session of the symposium, entitled "Light and Liberty: The Educational and Civic Mission of Hampden-Sydney College," was a panel discussion among three men (left to right) with connections to the College: the Rev. Dr. William Thompson, former Chaplain and Pastor of College Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Robert Ramey '51, a retired professor of ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. William Klein '76, the current Pastor of Lexington Presbyterian Church. Dr. Robert Hall (far left), a professor of religion at H-SC, moderated the discussion.
This discussion focused on the historical link that Hampden-Sydney has to Union Presbyterian Seminary, which was founded on this campus in 1812 and remained here until it was relocated to Richmond in 1898. The pastors chronicled the fascinating relationship between H-SC and Union and how that relationship has changed over the past two centuries.
The final session of the symposium took place on March 30th. President Howard moderated a conversation between Gen. Josiah Bunting III and the Hon. Paul Trible '68. Gen. Bunting is a former President of Hampden-Sydney College (1977-1987) and Superintendent of Virginia Military Institute (1995-2002); the Trible is a former U.S. Senator from Virginia (1983-1989) and the current President of Christopher Newport University.
These gentlemen discussed role of liberal arts education in the 21st century. Gen. Bunting stressed the singularity of the liberal arts. As he pointed out, no other course of study is able to "equip undergraduates with curiosity and intellectually rigor" or engender a "life-long appetite for learning" quite like the liberal arts. Echoing Gen. Bunting's sentiments, President Trible made it clear that a liberal arts curriculum has a unique capacity to profoundly shape those who study it. During his four years on the Hill, Trible was "instructed, inspired, and empowered" by his education to "live a life that mattered."