I am pleased to share with you highlights of the 2016-2017 academic year at Hampden-Sydney College, a year full of achievement and growth thanks to the generosity of our alumni, parents, and friends.
Strong recruiting efforts and steady enrollment meant that the Hampden-Sydney campus was busy with young men learning, leading, serving, and achieving. In the fall of 2016, the Class of 2020 entered Hampden-Sydney with record-setting qualifications: their average SAT of 1124 was the highest in a decade, while their average GPA of 3.56 was the highest in school history. In the spring, the College community bid congratulations and farewell to the Class of 2017, a third of whom graduated with honors.
Regardless of their individual courses of study, all Hampden-Sydney students hone their critical thinking and communication skills during their time on the Hill-attributes that earned our students recognition throughout year. In February, the Ethics Team took first place in the statewide ethics tournament for the second year in a row, debating the ethics of presidential politics, specifically immigration, privacy, and national security. In April, Senior Alex Abbott won the Best Paper Award at the National Undergraduate Philosophy Conference for his presentation "In Defense of Berkeley's Heterogeneity Thesis." And the presidents of H-SC's Young Democrats and College Republicans, senior Trevor Starnes and junior Chris Ross, garnered national attention for their op-ed entitled "Seersucker and Civility," published in The New York Times on May 8, 2017.
The accomplishments of students like Trevor, Chris, Alex, and others were made possible by the dedication and excellence of Hampden-Sydney's faculty and staff. One hallmark of a Hampden-Sydney education is the close relationships that develop between our students and professors; in particular, H-SC students enjoy academic research opportunities rarely offered to undergraduate students at larger institutions. For example, Elliott Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Kristian Hargadon '01 collaborated with six Hampden-Sydney students over the past two years, researching the role of the FOXC2 protein in melanoma progression. Seniors Brant Boucher and James Lau presented their research at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting-two of only 100 undergraduate students presenting their findings to the more than 20,000 cancer researchers in attendance. Biology professor Dr. Erin Clabough received a fellowship award to monitor sea turtle nests on Hatteras Island using an innovative, remote-controlled sensor and communication system, which senior Josh Chamberlin helped her install, monitor, and analyze. These are just a few examples of the experiential learning offerings at Hampden-Sydney College.
Beyond the classroom, our student-athletes and coaching staff continued Hampden-Sydney's tradition of excellence in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference with Tiger basketball, baseball, swimming, and lacrosse advancing to ODAC tournaments. Two Hampden-Sydney coaches were named Coach of the Year for their success in mentoring young athletes: swim team coach Betsy Leonard and lacrosse coach Jason Rostan '03. In his first year as head coach, Rostan led H-SC lacrosse to its fifth ODAC Championship and the third round of the NCAA tournament. Hampden-Sydney junior Parker Smith earned individual accolades as the ODAC Golfer of the Year, while 78 Tigers earned ODAC All-Academic Honors for their academic achievement.
Our fundraising efforts in 2016-2017 were another mark of success for the College. Cash gifts to the endowment were the second-highest in school history, and total gifts to the College made it the fifth-best fundraising year on record. Construction neared completion on the new Brown Student Center and the renovation of Brinkley Hall, formerly Winston Hall-accomplishments made possible by the financial support of our donors.
Sadly, the past year also included the loss of one of our most respected and beloved leaders on June 10, 2017. Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson served as president of Hampden-Sydney College from 1992 to 2000; under his leadership, the College increased enrollment, doubled the endowment, and established the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest. Gen. Wilson came to Hampden-Sydney after a 37-year career in the U.S. Army, where he was a living legend in the intelligence and special operations communities. Hampden-Sydney is thankful for his years of service to the College and to our great nation. "General Sam" will be deeply missed.
As I look back on my first year as president of Hampden-Sydney College, I am honored and humbled to say that the College is continuing in its vital mission "to form good men and good citizens." Thank you for helping us provide this transformative education to the next generation of Hampden-Sydney men.