Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award


At Fall Convocation, on Saturday, November 2, 1991, Dean of Faculty Robert Williams announced to the Davidson College Community that a teaching award had been created to honor a Davidson faculty member that displays “an exemplary love of teaching.”  Dr. James P. Hamilton, Davidson Class of 1954, a physician in Charlotte, and his wife Grey Hunter Hamilton set up a permanent endowment to fund the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award, in honor of their late parents: Isabel Reid Hunter, Richard Moore Hunter (Class of 1926), Frances Pressly Hamilton, and Buford Lindsay Hamilton.

Hamiltons and President
James P. Hamilton ’54, Grey Hunter Hamilton, and
President John Kuykendall sign the agreement to increase the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award from $10,000 to $15,000 on
January 27, 1997.


Dr. James Hamilton also was motivated to create this award by his experience at Davidson as a student.  Having traveled a lot when he was young, he did not have a formal education with transcripts, so Davidson’s president at the time John Cunningham accepted Hamilton “on faith” after talking to his grandfather, James Pressly.  He also received a scholarship to help pay for his tuition.  While at Davidson, Hamilton was impressed with the teaching ability and personal devotion of Professor of Biology Olin Puckett, who always took extra time to help students understand lessons of biology and of life.

Grey Hunter Hamilton’s inspiration for the award came from her maternal grandfather Dr. E. L. Reid, who was a chemistry professor at Erskine College and who was fondly known for his concern for students.  Additionally, at the time they created the award, the Hamiltons had a son, Hunter, Class of 1992, at Davidson.

The criteria for receiving the Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award include five years of teaching experience at Davidson College, including any sabbatical leave, and he/she must “have established a record of contagious enthusiasm for classroom teaching and tutelage; be dedicated and patient with students, with service to them being of highest priority; have the ability to stimulate extraordinary accomplishments in students, including those with average abilities as well as those with exceptional abilities; have an ability to clarify complex matters for students; be able to build in students self-esteem, self-reliance, and a desire to learn; [and] treat students with dignity and respect as impressionable persons with individual hopes, fears, pains, and histories—making every effort to know them by name.”

Nominations can be made by any Davidson graduate, student or faculty member.  After all the nominations and letters of support are received, a committee, comprised of five previous award winners, selects the winner. More information is available on this website.

The first Hunter-Hamilton Teaching Award was presented during the 1992 graduation ceremony to Professor of Economics Charles E. Ratliff.  The award initially was awarded to one faculty member and was accompanied by a prize of $10,000 to be used by the faculty member as he or she saw fit.  At first, there was some consternation among the administration and staff concerning the large amount of the award and lack of regulation as to how the award money could be used.  In 1995, the award was changed to be given to two professors with each being awarded $10,000.  Half of the prize was awarded to each of the recipients, and the remaining amount was allocated to a department of each recipient’s choosing. The first awards under this system went to Professor of History Malcolm Partin and Professor of English Gill Holland.  In 1997, the award was increased to $15,000 for each recipient.

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Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award – Works Cited

Barnes, Robin, et al.  Memo to Faculty Colleagues, Hunter-Hamilton Award.  20 Nov. 1991.  Davidsonian File Hunter Hamilton Love of Teaching Award.  Davidson College Archives, Davidson, N.C.

“Charlotte Couple Create Major New Teaching Award.”  Davidson College The Campus Chronicle 6.9 (Nov. 1991): 1-2.

Giduz, Bill.  “Charlotte Couple Creates Major Teaching Award at Davidson College.”  Davidson College Press Release.  4 Nov. 1991.

Giduz, Bill.  “Setina Leads Class of ’99 at Davidson.”  North Mecklenburg Gazette 20 May 1999: B1.

“Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award.”  Pamphlet.  Davidson College: Davidson, N.C.

Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award Selection Committee.  Memo to Davidson Faculty, Recommendations Request.  2 Mar. 1993.  Davidsonian File Hunter Hamilton Love of Teaching Award.  Davidson College Archives, Davidson, N.C.

Krentz, Jeri Fischer.  “Professor’s Dedication Lands Award.”  The Charlotte Observer 23 May 1994: 14C.

Kimmel, Meg.  “The Labor of Love.”  The Davidson Journal 31.1 (Winter 2002): 4-13.

“New Teaching Award.”  Davidson College Campaign Report Jan.-Feb. 1992: 3.

Price, Tom.  “Faculty Expresses Concern Over ‘Conditionless’ Hamilton Award.”  The Davidsonian 18 Nov. 1991: 1-2.

Williams, Paige.  “Couple to Reward Teaching’s Best at Davidson College.”  The Charlotte Observer 3 Nov. 1991.

Author: Mark Grotjohn
Date: 12 April 2007

Cite as: Grotjohn, Mark. “Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award ” Davidson Encyclopedia, 12 April 2007 <>

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