Affirmations: Page Four of  Five

“The time I spent with the Alexander Hamilton Institute was integral to my time at Hamilton. The guidance I received from AHI’s fellows, including Dr. Paquette, Dr. Ambrose, Dr. Hill, Dr. Frisk, and Dr. Grabar greatly assisted me as I progressed through my studies and beyond. Moreover, they provided me with the intellectual stimulation and academic rigor that I could not always find on the hill. AHI’s programming exposed me to an incredible variety of thought that is hard to come by on any college campus, thanks to countless discussions with scholars. Most importantly, AHI expanded my horizons by successfully bringing students and academics from all parts of the political spectrum together on many occasions and facilitating fruitful, insightful debate. AHI led me to challenge what I believe and formulate strong justifications for my thoughts, while also giving me an acute understanding of those who disagree with me. AHI’s guidance allowed me to blossom into a strong debater with a deep respect for those who hold differing beliefs than I.

The most valuable experience I had with AHI was undoubtedly the WaPONS program, led by Dr. Juliana Pilon. In the two weeks of the program, Dr. Pilon introduced me to professionals and scholars in the field of national security and provided invaluable guidance for how to succeed in the field. Most importantly, she introduced me to scholars from the Georgetown University Security Studies Program, where I chose to continue my studies after graduating from Hamilton. During the WaPONS Program, I learned what I needed to do to succeed in the Security Studies Program and beyond in my career. I am incredibly thankful for everything AHI has given me that has allowed me to grow as both a person and a scholar. I would recommend participating in AHI’s programming whenever the chance exists. AHI provided me with my fondest memories in my undergraduate experience, and I am thankful for every moment I had.”

Amy Elinski, Hamilton College, Class of 2017; Georgetown University Security Studies Program

“My officemate has given me some great tips over the past week, and much of it overlaps with what you taught in your classes. He, too, reads court briefs and memos out loud to proofread them, and places enormous emphasis on concise language. I definitely want to thank you for helping me refine those skills – they really have been crucial to my job so far.

I came across the phrase “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” in one of my briefs recently, and it reminded me of a debate in one of your classes over whether the specific enumeration of liberties in the Bill of Rights necessarily limited the amount of natural rights. My officemate didn’t seem nearly as excited as I was when I came across the term.”

G. W., Hamilton College, Class of 2017

“In the past 24 hours, I have reflected on how many events, both large and small, led up to this, leaving me incredibly thankful for the relationships and experiences I cultivated along the way. It is safe to say I never would be in this position without professors like you and classes like The Old South. The impact you had on my writing and general intellect was enormous and if there is one thing I regret during my time at Hamilton, it’s that I didn’t take one of your courses sooner.” 

Hamilton College undergraduate, Class of 2017

“During my four years at Hamilton College, I had the good fortune to take several American History courses with Professors Ambrose and Paquette. Their constant support and extensive, evenhanded criticism allowed me to significantly improve my academic prose — without their help, it is unlikely that I would have qualified for a position at the college’s Writing Center. The same can be said for my completion and enjoyment of the daunting History major.

Professor Ambrose served as my general advisor during my Freshman year and became my concentration advisor the following fall. In the former position, he helped me navigate the new college environment; in the latter, he guided me through the History concentration’s requirements and suggested a broad range of challenging courses. Finally, serving as my thesis advisor in fall 2016, Professor Ambrose acted as a patient mentor and thoughtful reader. When I finished the thesis, he went out of his way to mail my family a bound copy.

Professor Paquette also supported my academic efforts throughout my college career. His office door was always open to me, his bearing welcoming, encouraging, and frank. In my senior year he pushed me to attend an AHI conference at Colgate (and, not incidentally, drove me to and from the event), which proved a singular learning experience. While there, he introduced me to a number of historians working in fields in which I have an abiding interest. In all of our interactions, he evinced a sincere interest in my intellectual growth, for which I remain grateful.”

William Ardery, Hamilton College, Class of 2017

“I am writing to tell you about what a privilege it is that AHI is offering these Monday evening courses to the public. I began taking them a couple of years ago starting with the class profiling the 1960s. The subject matter is always informative and interesting. We have covered a number of diverse topics and the combination of lecture and discussion leads to learning the interests and opinions of others in the class. Not having a background in Political Science, I personally find this very educational and enlightening. The text and course materials are graciously provided free of charge which is an added benefit. I would also like to thank Dr. David Frisk for providing the lectures and compiling the readings. I’m sure he gives them a great deal of thought and effort.”
Greg D’Agostino, New Hartford, New York

“From guest speakers to reading groups, my involvement with the AHI has broadened my knowledge of the world and its history. Particularly, I learned to admire the contributions of Western Civilization to the overall progress of humanity. Without the AHI, I would have had no exposure to the works of Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis De Tocqueville.”

Alex Klosner, Hamilton College, Class of 2017

“I’ve been exposed to ideas and subjects I would not have experienced otherwise.”

Taylor Elicegui, Hamilton College, Class of 2017

“It’s hard to convey how much of my own personal and professional success I owe to the Alexander Hamilton Institute, and specifically Professors Paquette and Ambrose, but looking back, I know that no other organization at Hamilton College could or did influence my own personal and intellectual development more than AHI. By supporting my academic interests, while always daring me to think differently, AHI helped me develop an intellectual grounding, which has proven invaluable in my post-grad life. With fellows of every ideological background, every student and professor who contributed their time to AHI found intellectual enrichment, as they came to learn and have their ideas scrutinized and challenged. I consider my time with AHI as a privilege and remain tremendously grateful to Professors Ambrose and Paquette for the irreplaceable mentorship they provided me while I was an undergraduate fellow of AHI.”

William Swett, Hamilton College, Class of 2018

“Your colloquium [Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton at Monticello] was one of the best organized events I have ever attended. You . . . deserve congratulations for your vision, your skills in getting such a great, complex enterprise organized, and for its flawless execution. . . . All the panelists were first rate and made interesting points, but the ones who stood out for me were the ones who focused, for example, on the circumstances in which correspondences were written and memorable statements were made.”

Member, The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, 19 November 2018

“I have taken four courses in history/political science at the Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) and found them all enjoyable, informative, well organized, and taught in a very understandable manner. The instructor, always a PhD, was well read on the subject being covered, as he was able to select short, pertinent sections from a wide array of much longer articles and books, so as to present a wide variety of viewpoints, without causing excessive reading. Thus, I think that each topic was covered in a well-balanced manner. Also, many of the attendees to these classes made significant contributions to our discussions, based upon their personal experiences, outside readings, or personal beliefs. Additionally, I have found several situations in current events for which material covered in these classes helped explain, by giving some historical perspective. Thus, I consider these courses very worthwhile.”

James W. Fesko, Metallurgical Engineer (Retired), Clinton, New York

“Not all college students have the privilege of connecting with a professor that is able to cultivate within them a lasting appreciation for higher learning and academic achievement. Lucky for me, I was blessed with two of these mentor-figures at Hamilton College, and not coincidentally, they are both co-founders of AHI: Douglas Ambrose, and Robert Paquette.

After leaving the sheltered world of a suburban, Long Island high school, Hamilton’s rigorous academic environment presented a challenge that was unlike anything I had previously experienced. Yet, with their instruction and wisdom, Professors Ambrose and Paquette helped me navigate this journey and—ironically—fulfill the College’s mission statement: to “Know Thyself.” It was Professor Ambrose who first caught my attention with his fiery lectures on colonial American history, but it was Professor Paquette’s passionate discourse on conservative thought in America that inspired me to shift my academic focus. Through their friendship, and the culture of free-expression and intellectual diversity that their leadership has fostered, I found a home at AHI. As I prepare for the next phase of my life, in search of a law degree and beyond, I find myself deeply indebted to this organization, and even more convinced as to the merits of its mission.”
Mike Russo, Hamilton College, Class of 2018

“I can say with full confidence that you and the AHI gave me a strong academic foundation that I feel would have been incomplete had I missed the classes, reading groups, and other activities offered by the AHI and its members.  One of my few regrets at Hamilton is not finding and learning with the AHI earlier in my college career.  I believe I gained a much stronger understanding of our political and intellectual history as well as some of the nuances and complexities that are too often lost on today’s students (and citizens!).  The work with the AHI also helped me to recognize and differentiate between serious intellectual rigor and the shallow, simplistic thought frequently disguised in academic jargon.  Without this education, I would not have been as prepared or as confident to be a boarding school faculty member, especially at a time like the ‘16 election cycle.  

I also believe you had a strong influence on my teaching and grading style.  I will never forget the first paper I wrote for your Conservative Thought class.  I thought (at the time) it was reasonably well written, perhaps nothing groundbreaking in academia, but somewhat respectable.  I remember my jaw almost hit the table when I saw that you had rewritten the entire introductory paragraph, corrected every grammar and punctuation error, and pointedly noted where various pieces of evidence or analysis did not completely support conclusions.  While the prose was “passive and pedestrian,” I was thrilled that it at least “showed promise.”  I had never seen that level of rigorous grading, and it forced me to reevaluate what I considered acceptable writing.”
Ryan Glenn, Hamilton College, Class of 2016

“Hope all you’ve been well and enjoying life on the Hill! I thought of you and AHI recently, as I had dinner with a retired Lieutenant General who served as the CIO of the Army (and now works with Deloitte) – her reminded me a bit of General Bunting. I so enjoyed the [Veterans Day] lecture he gave about service back in 2013…can’t believe it was almost two years ago!”
H. C., Hamilton College, Class of 2014

“Thank you again for hosting such a wonderful and thought-provoking conference. My mind is still whirring from the many scintillating conversations across the weekend. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon — perhaps at a joint Buckley/AHI event? Wherever it is, I look forward our next meeting and the exhilarating exchange of ideas that will inevitably follow.”
L. S., Yale University undergraduate, April 2018

“To other students, I would say that the AHI, at its core, is about adding to the Hamilton educational experience. In its best form, the AHI can truly be a resource for everyone. At the end of the day,” he adds, “while I am really grateful to the AHI for all of the specific programming they offered, for the networking opportunities and for the chance to hone writing skills, what I am really going to take away is the love of learning. Because who doesn’t love learning more than people who keep it going outside of the regular classroom? That’s what brought me to the AHI, and I think that’s what makes me continue to appreciate it.”

Phil Parkes, Hamilton College, Class of 2017.

“I have had the pleasure of taking several AHI classes and have enjoyed the breadth of the topics examined. The participants have been a cross section of the community; doctors, lawyers, academics, farmers, students, artists, builders, and retirees with varied life experiences.

Topics are presented in depth with thoughtfully assigned readings and guided discussions without bias or rancor. The friendly conversational tone is engaging and invigorating and leaves me looking forward to the next weekly meeting”.

Duffy Burdick, Clinton, New York

“Thank you for your hospitality and for all the work you did this past weekend to make the conference the great success it was. You are clearly a devoted and talented man, and it was a pleasure meeting you. I learned a lot, met some great folks, and enjoyed the opportunity to present my work. I hope our paths cross again soon, especially if you make it down to Princeton in the future.”

W. C., Princeton University Undergraduate, 2019.

“My experiences with AHI truly helped shape my undergraduate experience. Even though I went to Colgate, not Hamilton, I always felt welcomed by the organization and its members. I am so thankful that I found AHI, or rather, that Professor Paquette found me. Many liberal arts colleges are quite stifling to intellectual freedom and discussion. At AHI I was able to express myself and my ideas openly, without fear of repercussion. By creating a place where intellectual freedom can be expressed, Professor Paquette genuinely helped me grow as an individual. AHI events I attended were some of the highlights of my college career– I learned more at one AHI discussion or panel than I did in some entire classes I took in college.

Encouraging college students to explore diverse ideas and engage in open discourse is crucial to their education. Luckily for me, I was able to do this with the help of Professor Paquette, and I can only hope that others have this great fortune. AHI is a safe place for those denied safe spaces elsewhere and I will be forever grateful for the influence it had on my life.”

Caitlin Gilligan, Colgate University, Class of 2019; Manager, External Communications, The Empire Center

“The conference at Colgate was a fantastic way to cap off my undergraduate experience. This past weekend widened my perspective, allowed me to make some great friends whose paths I hope I will cross again, and stimulated a great deal of reflection on the many topics presented. More than anything it left me excited for the years to come following my graduation.

Many thanks to you and everyone else at the AHI and Colgate University who worked to provide such a wonderful opportunity.”

Shane Leary, Rochester Institute of Technology, Class of 2019

“I have participated in several of AHI’s adult classes and have enjoyed and benefited from each one. Professor David Frisk is thoroughly prepared and provides a wide selection of short readings for background information.

The topics and discussions deal with American history and current issues. Different points of view are presented in the material and welcomed in the discussions.

I have particularly enjoyed “The Constitution in the 20th Century and Today: Key Decisions and Controversies” (Fall 2015) and “Abraham Lincoln: Leader and Legend” (Fall 2017).

I highly recommend this AHI program.”

David B. Goldenson, New Hartford, New York

“The luncheon was a great success & your talk was perfect. Just what everyone needed to hear . . . Thanks so much for helping make this celebration happen.”

Mary Rogers, The Questers: Preservation, Restoration, and Education, 2019

My experience during the WAPONS [national security]program, made possible by the AHI, has been instrumental in my educational and professional development during my time at Hamilton College. The carefully cultivated curriculum at the WAPONS program included readings on a wide area of topics concerning national security. Under the tutelage of Dr. Juliana Pilon, all participants came prepared to learn and engage with some of the top experts in the various fields of study. Every day was spent meeting with esteemed experts. The immense respect each expert had for Dr. Pilon created a more interactive and effective learning environment as each student was able to ask questions. The many qualified speakers were not only extremely knowledgeable but also engaging and invested in our experience. Students from all over the country engaged in thoughtful debates over various policies and issues, providing an environment difficult to replicate in the average classroom.

My experience at the WAPONS program allowed me to bring forth lessons learned and knowledge gained into my future classes as a government major and to my internships with the Army ROTC program I am a member of. I have found myself referring back to the sources and notes taken while at the program for current projects. I feel very fortunate to have experienced the WAPONS program only possible through the work of AHI!”

Katie Tenefrancia, Hamilton College, Class of 2019

“My time with AHI instilled in me a lifelong love of learning and appreciating the Western Canon: Tocqueville, Blackstone, Lord Acton, Cotton Mather, Hayek, the Putney Debates, and others. Second, professors forced me to write with brevity. Lucid writing reflects clear thought.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Professors such as Paquette, Hill, Bradfield, and Ambrose taught me to engage in the honest pursuit of truth–-to be a scholar and not a passive ideologue.

All of these are the hallmark of a liberal education. This is priceless.”

Hamilton Undergraduate, Class of 2019

It was a true delight to get to know your student Andrew Juchno, and we are looking forward to welcoming him to DC this summer. The Hertog Foundation relies on the care and insight of professors like yourself to build the best cohort of students for our courses—so thank you for recommending Andrew!

We hope you continue to nominate such exceptional students for our programs.”

Hertog Foundation, 2019

“A standing room only class on Abraham Lincoln! Lively, intense discussions and debates in classes on the ‘60’s and Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. All these and many more such classes are regularly taught by Dr. David Frisk, an AHI Resident Fellow. He always prepares robust syllabi and readings, and offers insightful lectures that draw a wide range of Mohawk Valley community members who bring their own interesting observations and enthusiasm for learning to each session. Dr. Mary Grabar, also an AHI Resident Fellow, frequently participates in classes and has contributed several short lectures on George S. Schuyler, prominent African-American journalist and novelist (1895-1977). She has written his soon-to-be published biography. Dr. Christopher Hill has offered a well-attended class on the Crusades and a notable lecture on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

AHI Director Dr. Robert Paquette has fruitfully collaborated with AHI associates, as well as colleagues at universities and colleges nationwide, to present notable lectures, conferences, and symposia on a rich variety of topics related to the historical, textual, and political roots of the American polity and Western civilization. These include a truly invigorating week-long seminar on Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and a thoughtful and timely “Tolerance, the Constitution, and the Limits of an Open Society,” the topic of the Ninth Annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write some words of praise for the AHI– its productive and vital people and programs. “

Dr. Susan Goldberg, Clinton, New York

The undergraduate conference at Colgate was a fantastic way to cap off my undergraduate experience. This past weekend widened my perspective, allowed me to make some great friends whose paths I hope I will cross again, and stimulated a great deal of reflection on the many topics presented. More than anything it left me excited for the years to come following my graduation. Many thanks to you and everyone else at AHI and Colgate University who worked to provide such a wonderful opportunity.”

Undergraduate, Rochester Institute of Technology, Class of 2019

Since the end of the most recent adult education class, I have been thinking about the benefits I have personally derived from the programs provided by the Alexander Hamilton Institute. Over the last several years I have attended some of the Spring and Summer seminars. These are designed for college students and feature panel members from both university faculties and professional organizations, but they have been free and open to the public. The discussion and debates among these brilliant and well-educated people have provided a wealth of information, knowledge and insight about the topic involved. And it is a real joy to hear truly articulate people speak about any subject. I have also been privileged to attend individual lectures. One that comes to mind was presented by Heather Mac Donald on the topic of “Are Cops Racist?”. Again, the information and clarity she provided were remarkable.

For me (and many others like me), however, the single most important program the institute provides is the adult or continuing education classes. I have been attending these for several years now, and I continue to attend because they offer knowledge and stimulating discussion on a variety of topics. The participants come from a wide range of political persuasions and appear to feel free to express their opinions -I certainly feel that way. The most recent course was “Science and Government” and considered not just how government programs are influenced by science and new discoveries, but also how political conflict affects the integration of scientific knowledge with government policy. Other courses throughout the last several years have featured topics such as “The Concept of Law”,” Abraham Lincoln”, and “Statesmanship”. I can think of few things in my life that bring as much value and joy as these Alexander Hamilton Institute programs.”

Fred Diddle, Sherrill, NY, June 3, 2019

“I made a visit to AHI in the spring of 2014 when David Frisk was offering the course on Statesmanship and Leadership.  I’ve been attending every class every semester ever since.  I have been a history and literature buff for as long as I can remember.  AHI’s commitment to the principles of Liberty, Democracy and open discourse through the study of History, Government and Politics, Economics and Statesmanship have provided me with the opportunity to further my personal studies, broaden and deepen its scope, and open new areas of interest. Some classes, such as Statesmanship and Leadership, The Constitution, and Liberty: The History of an Idea were by far my favorite courses.

The semester spent studying F.A. Hayek’s works (The Constitution of Liberty and The Road to Serfdom) were both extremely challenging and second only to the study of the Bible, study of our history, our founding, and how they relate to events is paramount to understanding and functioning in these modern times.  It is imperative, in my humble opinion, that we as a nation not only study and discuss these foundational principles, but teach them diligently to our children.  It has been my great pleasure to sit next to my young daughters during these classes to hear foundational principles from wise instructors and to experience the many facets of public discourse.

To AHI board of directors, keep up the good work the various Colloquium’s and meetings hosted by AHI.  It has been a rewarding joy to be included in these very rich and dynamic academic experiences.”

Bob Gorman, Oneida, New York

“Thank you for organizing the AHI conference, and facilitating the travel, food, documents, and panels. The panels and discussions over meals enhanced my understanding of the founding of our nation, especially how Hamilton and Jefferson’s vision shaped the rest of American history. Interacting with such prestigious scholars last week was an experience of a lifetime, and the conference will shine as a highlight of my time at Hamilton.”

Nick Jickling, Hamilton College, Class of 2019

“As I have done for many years past, it was once again my treat to host the college students from the Hamilton Institute . . . and their instructor, my good friend Dr. Juliana Pilon, to the Voice of America last week.

The students had a guided tour of our facilities to include watching two live radio shows in English and Indonesian. Over dinner provided by the Hamilton Institute, they also received from me a brief lecture and discussion on international broadcasting and public diplomacy.

Their instructor, Dr. Pilon, is one of the luminaries of Washington, DC. She has been a professor at the National War College at Fort McNair where she has helped train many general officers in the military and at the Institute of World Politics where I first met her. She is also the author of several books. These young people in her class will be the future leaders of our nation. I’m glad I had the opportunity to host Dr. Pilon and the Hamilton Institute students by showing these young people what we do at the Voice of America in support of our country’s national security interests.”

Rick Barnes, Supervisor, Voice of America, 2019

“AHI’s Science and Government class … was intellectually stimulating and the AHI

environment was a welcoming place to share an evening with others committed to

expanding their body of knowledge. Class discussions were always interesting and thought provoking. Attendees at AHI represent a wide range of knowledge gained from extensive reading/studying/academia, occupation, and life experience. We enjoyed listening to all of it. … The information shared enhanced our understanding of larger issues outside the classroom.”

Trudy and Eric Kennedy, Utica, New York

“To the Alexander Hamilton Institute I owe a large debt of gratitude. In particular, Professors Paquette and Ambrose were a vital part of my undergraduate education, offering a much needed supplement to Hamilton. Their guidance and support shaped me into the scholar that I am today. Both are generous with their time and advice, demonstrating a commitment to students that very few professors of their caliber can match. I consider them both mentors and friends, and am incredibly proud of all that they have accomplished in founding and sustaining our Institute.”

Andrew Juchno, Hamilton College, Class of 2019

“Thank you so much for making it possible for me to come to the colloquium on Hamilton and Jefferson, and for letting me stay at the AHI.  It was a wonderful, eye-opening weekend.  I learned so much about the two that I never knew before, and it was good to hear so many different perspectives from such knowledgeable scholars.  Monticello was absolutely beautiful, and we look forward to hearing what is next and experiencing your vision.  And to Bob Paquette, thank you for allowing us to participate in

the food was spectacular, and I so enjoyed getting to know so many new people over the course of the trip! Thank you for such a great opportunity!”

Elizabeth Niebanck, SUNY-Oneonta, Class of 2021

“When the Alexander Hamilton Institute came to Clinton and took over the old restaurant on the green and I spoke to Jim Bradfield and Bob Paquette about the organization and its goals and objectives, I knew I had to get involved. As a founding member of the Conservative Party of New York State and at the time a Regional Vice Chairman for upstate New York, I understood the problem with many of the liberal arts colleges moving to the extreme liberal position on most current topics. Also the move to the ‘political correct nonsense’ that permeates many of the college administrations today.

My involvement with AHI has been an interesting and rewarding experience. As a retired teacher at a local college, I can appreciate the value of having an alternative program that provides the students with a conservative point of view on subjects in which they are involved in their studies. Also AHI returns to the philosophy of teaching students to think for themselves and do research to arrive at solutions to topics of interest. It is a great concern of mine that universities and colleges today are more concerned with forcing their students to fit ito the liberal mode of the university administration than fostering an environment that provides students with the ability to think and reason for themselves.”

Daniel Fitzgerald, Clinton, New York