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Having a ‘Hamilton’ Moment
Having a ‘Hamilton’ Moment

How institutions are capitalizing on the successful Broadway musical

By Elisa Wiseman


Alex, Hamilton College’s mascot, celebrates the July 2015 opening of the eponymous Broadway musical about the life of the institution’s namesake, U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton. (Photo: Nancy L. Ford/Hamilton College)



Hamilton College students and alumni were fans of Alexander Hamilton long before the musical about him became a Tony-winning sensation. But the New York institution is happy to revel in the attention surrounding the first U.S. treasury secretary: Excitement about Hamilton has become an undercurrent of the campus culture, says Ellen Hotchkiss Rainey, executive director of alumni and parent relations. Here's how three institutions are connecting with the production's popularity.

Hamilton College: Rainey's office has made blocks of the in-demand tickets available to alumni chapters across the country. After some shows, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and other cast members have held Q&A sessions. To tout the college's relationship to Hamilton, a recent admissions poster sent to high school guidance counselors reads: "Before the musical, there was the college."

Wesleyan University: Miranda and the show's director, Thomas Kail, are graduates of the Connecticut institution, which in June 2016 established the Hamilton Prize for Creativity in their honor. Beginning with the Class of 2021, an incoming student will receive a four-year full-tuition scholarship for a creative written work that best reflects "originality, artistry, and dynamism." Wesleyan also won a Gold 2016 CASE Circle of Excellence Award for its October 2015 event "Hamilton Evening on Broadway," for which more than 1,300 Wesleyan community members attended an exclusive sold-out performance that raised more than $1.6 million for financial aid.

Wake Forest University: The North Carolina institution's latest undergraduate admissions application asks prospective students to "choose an unsung historical figure who deserves the Hamilton treatment." The university has become known for its creative and occasionally pop culture–inspired essay prompts since moving to a test-optional admissions process in 2008.

About the Author Elisa Wiseman

Elisa Wiseman was a summer 2016 editorial intern for Currents.

 

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