Office of Undergraduate Studies celebrates 50 years

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“To think about 50 years is in some ways a long time and also is too short to capture who we are,” Professor Suzanne Spring, academic director of the Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS), said at the start of the OUS 50th Anniversary Gala. Hosted by Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey E. Hucks ’87, MA’90 (herself an OUS alumna), the event took place in the Hall of Presidents on April 13.

President Brian W. Casey then gave a brief history of OUS — originally called the University Scholars Program (USP) — which was founded in 1967 as a program of support for students who excelled despite socioeconomic obstacles. In 1989, it was renamed the Office of Undergraduate Scholars.

OUS is one of three scholars programs on campus, including Alumni Memorial Scholars and Benton Scholars. Three years ago, OUS embraced a sister program, the First Generation Initiative, for those who, like OUS Scholars, have been “challenged by circumstances, but challenge them back,” Casey said.

OUS has had a profound effect on Casey’s Colgate experience so far, he added. During his inaugural summer in 2016, the OUS scholars made a “strange place feel like home,” he said. Casey also highlighted the important role OUS students play on campus and noted their deeply felt presence within the Colgate community.

Hucks discussed her personal experiences with OUS, including her time as a student and the ways the program has “intersected [her] life journey.

“For us, the label of scholars in its pejorative ways did not define us,” Hucks said. “But instead we came to Colgate forging a self-defined understanding of ourselves, bringing the presence of our hometowns with us.”

She emphasized that OUS has not only made strides in fostering a campus culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also, its influence extends well beyond the Hamilton zip code.

“OUS is a reservoir of support” and a “golden institution” whose graduates go on to lead and explore the world in a variety of ways, Hucks said.