Colgate Announces 2024–25 Commons Co-Directors

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Colgate University Residential Commons will welcome new co-directors at the beginning of the 2024–25 academic year.

Through the Residential Commons, first-year students enjoy a robust, engaging living-learning community from their first days on campus. They encounter co-directors and fellow commons members who form a living-learning community that respects and builds on tradition and exposes students to an intellectually rich residential experience.

“I want to thank both our incoming and outgoing co-directors for their service to Colgate,” says Vice President and Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin II. “The Residential Commons play a vital and dynamic role in residential life at the University, due in large part to the dedication of these individuals, who commit themselves to ensuring that our students are received into a welcoming residential and academic community on day one.”

Brown Commons

David McCabe, Richard J. and Joan Head Chair in philosophy, will join Laura Festine, director of university grants and sponsored research, in Brown Commons. McCabe will serve as the co-director, a position held this year by Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Frank Frey, who served as the co-director of Hancock Commons during the 2021–2023 academic years.

McCabe earned his BA from Williams College and his PhD from Northwestern University. He arrived at Colgate in 1994 as an assistant professor of philosophy. During his three decades on campus, he has served as chair of philosophy, director of the Lampert Institute, university professor in the Core Curriculum, and director of the Division of Arts and Humanities. In the philosophy department, he teaches courses in aesthetics, ethics, and political philosophy. His research centers on political philosophy and the ethics of political action.

Ciccone Commons

Senior Lecturer in French Mahadevi Ramakrishnan and Associate Dean of Admission Erin Milin will co-direct Ciccone Commons. They succeed Jessica Graybill, professor of Russian and Eurasian studies, and Carolyn Strobel-Larson, director of entrepreneurship and innovation.

A 2022 recipient of the Balmuth Award, Ramakrishnan earned her BA in history at the University of Madras, India. She received her MA and doctor of arts in foreign languages and literatures from Syracuse University. She is a founding member of the Colgate Contingent Faculty Council and a member of the Core Transition Team — having taught Core 180C: Core French Caribbean.  Ramakrishnan has been an adviser to the French Club for nearly two decades. 

As associate dean, Milin serves as campus visit coordinator and leads the Campus Visit Team, and she manages recruitment and application review for prospective students from Alaska, New York (central N.Y. and North Country), Oregon, and Texas (Austin, Houston, San Antonio). Outside the admission office, she has served as a Living Learning Workshop facilitator and a member of the Community Reads Selection Committee. 

Mabel Dart Colegrove Commons

Lou Kaminski, assistant dean of student conduct, will step in for Director of Outdoor Education Heidi Riley as a co-director in Mabel Dart Colegrove Commons. He will work alongside Professor of Biology Engda Hagos.

Kaminski arrived at Colgate in April of 2023 from Paul Smith’s College, where he was director of student life and housing. To his work in the Dean of the College division, he brings experience in mediation, coaching and feedback, performance management, and effective management practices. Kaminski is also an ultramarathon runner.

Hancock Commons

Professor Beth Parks will take over for University Librarian Courtney Young in Hancock Commons, joining Lyosha Gorshkov, director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives, who joined the commons last year.

Parks received her bachelor’s degree in physics with a certificate in theater and dance from Princeton University. She earned her masters and PhD in physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Since arriving at Colgate in 1997, she has taught courses across the physics curriculum, including classes on quantum mechanics and renewable energy. She has also served as a visiting professor and Fulbright scholar at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda. Parks is currently the editor of the American Journal of Physics

The Commons Spirit

Ciccone Commons opened in 2015, and the University inaugurated Hancock Commons in 2016. Colegrove and Brown Commons welcomed their first students in 2017. The completion of the Residential Commons at Colgate is a key initiative within the Third-Century Plan, which foresees a fifth commons and the creation of Fox Hall as an eventual replacement for Gatehouse.

“The Residential Commons, through their intellectual engagement and community-building, represent the distinctive way in which Colgate pursues residential liberal arts education,” says Provost and Dean of the Faculty Lesleigh Cushing. “I thank our co-directors for going above and beyond in their efforts to ensure the success of this program — and for the students who find home and community there.”