Preparing men of character for lives of consequence
Hampden-Sydney prepares men to be leaders. Our students are given opportunities to explore, practice, and hone their leadership skills so they can go on to become tomorrow's CEOs, business founders, military officers, college presidents, and civic and political leaders. The Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest hosts lectures, forums, symposia, and excursions that help develop effective and ethical leaders. With direction from current and former leaders, students gain an understanding of the challenges confronting the United States and the world.
Established in 1996 and named for the College's president from 1992-2000, Lt. Gen. Samuel V. Wilson (U.S. Army, Rt.), the Center oversees leadership, public service, and civic education for Hampden-Sydney students, faculty, staff, and alumni; area high school teachers and students; and a variety of community and national educational organizations.
The Wilson Center offers the following specialty leadership programs:
Governor Terence R. McAuliffe recognizes August 10, 2014, as National World War II Merrill's Marauders' Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Past President of Hampden-Sydney College, Lt. General Samuel V. Wilson, was presented with a certificate, signed by the governor, to honor his service and bravery as a one of Merrill's Marauders. The governor's proclamation is in support of a national effort for all states to honor the Marauders on that day.
This day of observance calls attention to the service of the Marauders who were the first American troops to fight the Japanese in Asia. In August of 1943, nearly 3,000 men volunteered to participate in this crucial mission. After walking over 1,000 miles of harsh and dangerous terrain, the unit broke the Japanese lines in Burma and changed the direction of the war. Their journey is known as the farthest trip on foot of all fighting forces during WWII. For their accomplishments in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, the group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, and each member has the distinction of receiving a Bronze Star Medal. Today, there are approximately 60 living survivors.
In 1940, General Wilson was ready to enter Hampden-Sydney, but enlisted in the army as a private instead. His combat duty with Merrill's Marauders was followed by a brilliant career in military intelligence, during which he attended graduate school at Columbia. He rose to Lieutenant General, finishing his service as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA.
He served as president of Hampden-Sydney from 1992 to 2000. During his term, the College's endowment reached $120 million, and in 1996 the College established the Wilson Center, named in his honor. The center oversees leadership, public service, and civic education for Hampden-Sydney students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The students of Hampden-Sydney came to know him as "General Sam", the president who taught a Sunday school class and missed few home athletic events. He was elected President Emeritus in 2000, and at his last Commencement he received the B.A. that he had forgone the opportunity to earn.