Alumni Column: Giving Thanks For Our Colgate Education

Christian Teeter, Alumni Council Director and Class of 1995

As we enjoy the idyllic beauty of our sylvan campus this spring and think about our summer plans, our internships, new jobs or our journey home after graduation, we should give thanks for Colgate’s intellectual and academic attributes that have made our experience on campus special. While we go to college to make new friends, forge relationships, lead organizations and set our sights on future professional opportunities, we must always remember the significance of study and scholarship at Colgate, with the many distinguished characteristics that reinforce the university’s legacy of academic excellence. Because of a committed faculty, an intimate learning environment, smart students and the reinforcement of critical thinking across our curriculum, we know that a Colgate education is second to none.  

The faculty at Colgate is distinguished in its unwavering commitment to students. While many professors are experts in their respective fields, they care about students. Generous office hours, engaging class discussions and multi-disciplinary assignments help create a dynamic learning environment. Colgate professors, however, often go the extra mile, working weekends, responding to students promptly and thoroughly and also collaborating with one another to assist students with academic difficulty. Students are often inspired by professors who take a personal interest in them, treating them as colleagues, as their learning continues.

The intimate learning environment at Colgate is also very important – we have no teaching assistants, and as such, faculty and students know each other well. Whether students are having a class outside on the quad or joining a faculty member for dinner at her or his home, the intimacy of the Colgate learning environment creates a special bond between students and teachers. This often leads to lifelong relationships as students stay in touch with professors long after graduation – and in some cases, even work to plan alumni events with their beloved faculty members years later.

Further, the idea of “smart students” is something we should not take for granted as members of the Colgate community. When we are in the company of bright people, we can have more engaging discussions. We learn that we are not the “smartest person in the room” and that there is always someone more advanced. Working with highly intelligent classmates encourages us to “raise our game” in the academic environment as we navigate Colgate’s academics. And, because of the collective intelligence of our students, our professors also know that they anticipate and appreciate being challenged – which is so much more productive than festering through an “easy” class that leaves students disengaged and waiting for dismissal.

In addition, the faculty’s appreciation of critical thinking shines through Colgate’s academics in many ways – because of the prominence of critical thinking at Colgate, we are confident that our graduates can reason, reflect, analyze and ponder an issue to great extent. Graduates are thoughtful, thinking things through and applying the concept of empathy in order to get to the bottom of a serious issue. The deep discussions that take place in academic classrooms compel students to seek the truth as they wrestle with difficult concepts, rich readings and complex data sets. These efforts continue to benefit Colgate, as our graduates rise to the top in almost every industry.

We have much for which to be thankful. As we share our own unique experiences on campus with our friends, families and colleagues, we encourage you to consider some of these venerable academic and intellectual distinctions that make Colgate such a dynamic, engaging place to complete an education.