Chautauqua Institution News & Announcements

A Message of Thanksgiving from Chautauqua

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Like many of you, I look forward tomorrow to gathering around a table with loved ones — for me at the President’s Cottage at Chautauqua — to share and partake in a most cherished tradition. At many Thanksgiving gatherings it is customary to begin the meal with a brief prayer or blessing, to “say grace,” as we put it at my table. It is a simple act, but one that is so profound: an expression of thanks for a nourishing meal, for those who prepared and share in it, and any number of the countless blessings in our lives.

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately, and not just in the Thanksgiving context. It’s the reason we have a whole week devoted to it in 2019. The description for that theme begins: “Be it emotional, physical or spiritual, grace takes many forms. It exists in the way we treat one another, the way in which we move through the world, and the way in which we use our gifts, our grace, to lift up others.”

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Prayers for Pittsburgh, from Chautauqua

Chautauquan Daily photo by Ruby Wallau

Dear Chautauquans,

We were all shocked and horrified by the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. A faith community, a city and a nation mourn and grieve and, as a community, all at Chautauqua stand with them and you in prayer and togetherness. To our Jewish brothers and sisters and our Pittsburgh neighbors: May you feel the warm, global embrace of your Chautauqua family as together we seek out a path for healing. And as we remember the lives lost and begin to heal from this unthinkable tragedy, all too common in these troubled times, let us renew our collective commitment to sowing more love, kindness and compassion in our neighborhoods and world.

May the names of those who have lost their lives be long remembered …

Shalom,
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Michael E. Hill
President

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Community Update on Chautauqua Lake Conservation Efforts

Dear Chautauqua Institution Property Owners and Other Interested Citizens:

Thank you for your continued attention to and concern for the health of Chautauqua Lake, which is fundamental to the livelihood of Chautauqua Institution, our community and our neighbors all around the lake shore. I write today to share the latest developments in our efforts to ensure responsible conservation of the lake.

At a hearing on Oct. 25 in Erie County, State Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Siwek asked attorneys for Chautauqua Institution, the Town of Ellery and Chautauqua Lake Partnership to encourage their clients to pursue mediation as a potential means of resolving the litigation regarding the Chautauqua Lake Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Justice Siwek suggested the mediation involve representatives of the named parties, their counsel and mutually agreed upon legal and technical consultants to attempt to work through the disagreements on the content and sufficiency of the SEIS. Attorneys for Chautauqua Institution immediately indicated willingness to participate in mediation.

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The Nonprofit Crystal Ball: What Does the Future Hold?

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Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed the annual Nonprofit Networking Day conference hosted on Oct. 17, 2018, by the Cattaraugus Community Foundation at St. Bonaventure University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be with you for this gathering of some of the most important leaders in our region. The nonprofit sector is not only an important economic and social driver in communities across our nation, but I believe this sector also represents the heart and soul of our communities.

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President Michael E. Hill Delivers Annual Closing Three Taps of the Gavel Address

Photo by Dave Munch

Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed Chautauquans gathered for the season's final Sacred Song Service with the traditional Three Taps of the Gavel to close the 2018 Chautauqua Assembly. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

Tonight we share an evening surrounding a Pilgrim’s Hymn. As pilgrims, immigrants all to this sacred place, please pray with me:

Eternal Friend,
grant me an ease
to breathe deeply of this moment,
this light,
this miracle of now.

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President Michael E. Hill Delivers the President’s Address to the Bestor Society

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Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed a gathering of the Bestor Society on Aug. 5, 2018. The President's Address is traditionally the highest-profile speech the Chautauqua president delivers during the Chautauqua season. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

My heartfelt thanks to each of you for spending your Sunday afternoon here and for representing some of Chautauqua’s truest friends.

It is an honor to gather with you in this magical environment with this picturesque view of our beloved lake behind us, in the shelter of this tent to shade us from the sun, and serenaded by the exquisite sounds of a chamber ensemble that exemplifies the promise of Chautauqua and of the future of artists and artistry.

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President Michael E. Hill Delivers Remarks at the 10th Anniversary Rededication of the Everett Jewish Life Center at Chautauqua

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Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed a gathering of Chautauquans on July 31, 2018, at the rededication and 10th anniversary celebration of the Everett Jewish Life Center at Chautauqua. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

It’s a joy to be here with this esteemed group of speakers and all of you. A very special thank you today to Rich and the board of the Everett Jewish Life Center, to my friend and predecessor Tom Becker, and with an abundance of gratitude to Edith Everett and your family for bestowing on the Institution this incredible gift, which has nourished our community for the past decade and stood as a symbol of welcome.

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The Long Game of Chautauqua Lake Conservation

The following was submitted as an op-ed to Chautauqua-area media outlets on June 1, 2018.

The herbicide permits granted to the Town of Ellery and other lake municipalities recently by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to control weed growth in selected areas of Chautauqua Lake, and the process leading to the issuing of the permits, have raised significant concern among many regional citizens, including Chautauqua Institution and many of the 1,190 private property owners on the Institution grounds. Our concerns center on the general ecology and sustainability of the lake, including our dependence on it for drinking water, recreation and, more broadly, regional economic development. 

The Institution’s leadership team has closely followed and formally responded to the herbicide application process, including the Town of Ellery's application for Lead Agency Status and the related Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). In order to do so in the most responsible way possible, we hired outside scientific experts and legal counsel to advise and support our engagement in this process. Our goal has been to become informed about the perspectives of the various Chautauqua Lake organizations and municipalities, to stay up to date on the NYSDEC’s own research and investments in lake care and management, and to advocate for a collaborative, scientifically supported long-term approach to lake care and management.

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Elevating Civil and Interfaith Dialogue in Communities: Finding Common Ground in an Age of Discord

Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed a gathering of Chautauquans on April 17, 2018, at South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

I bring you greetings from a Chautauqua Institution community that is preparing to remove its porch wraps and launch the Institution’s 145th season on June 23. As we busily complete a few remaining lecture and entertainment bookings, we are also in the process of inviting our community members to help us frame the next strategic plan for Chautauqua.

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As We Look Ahead, a Collective Wisdom and Hope

Portraits of all 18 Chautauqua Institution presidents is now on display in the hallway leading to current president Michael E. Hill's office in the Colonnade.

There is a new addition to the hallway leading to my office door in the Colonnade, a tribute to all the men — and I look forward to the day we will say “men and women”! — who have been fortunate enough to serve as president of the Institution. As many of you know, I am fond of referring to myself as the 18th president of Chautauqua as a reminder that 17 others came before me, but there is something about this tribute wall to I find particularly moving. As I glance into the faces of my 17 predecessors, I see both a wisdom gleaned from being formed by our beloved Chautauqua and those who populate it year after year, and also an earnestness, an expression of hope on each face of what is to come for the person who is lucky enough to sit in that unique chair.

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Season's Greetings from Chautauqua, 2017

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I've been thinking a lot in recent months about neighbors. Having good, thoughtful neighbors is, I believe, an underappreciated joy in modern life — we're all fortunate in the Chautauqua community to have so many wonderful ones. Neighbors are usually not our family and, for myriad reasons, don't always become our friends, but they are important relationships that require work to establish and maintain a mutual sense of respect and dignity. Our communities are made better when we approach strangers as new neighbors, not as the Other.

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A Message of Thanksgiving from Chautauqua

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As we enter a season filled with family, friends, fellowship and reflection, I wanted to take a moment to thank you. This is an extraordinary time for Chautauqua Institution. In the past year, Chautauqua has experienced monumental change and achievement — we've successfully closed a nine-figure capital campaign, delivered the most ambitious building project in our modern history, and realized promising growth in long-term attendance. Also in that span, it was my great honor and privilege to begin work as your 18th president. Now we embark upon a bold new shared vision to raise Chautauqua's prominence in our national conversation. None of this would be possible without extraordinary generosity and outsized investment of so many members of our community.

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How to Embrace Diversity When You Have None, or Very Little

Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed the annual Nonprofit Day conference hosted on Oct. 24, 2017, by The Nonprofit Partnership at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pennylvania. His remarks as prepared for delivery, with light edits, are provided below.

As many of you in the audience know well, Chautauqua Institution is a nonprofit community whose mission is currently exemplified through a nine-week summer season, where we celebrate the best in human values through the arts of nearly every type and manifestation, educational experiences, a wide array of recreation activities and programs, and through interfaith exploration.

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Prayers and Thoughts on the Equinox

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Periods of transition often inspire us to reflect on that which we leave behind and the new experience ahead.

As we welcome the arrival of the fall season on this day of equal day and night time, I find myself reflecting on that ideal of equality and what it means for our society and the mission of Chautauqua. It conjures memories of our dialogue during the 2017 season on issues of balance, on the nature of fear, on the state of the Supreme Court and so many other inspirational experiences of enlightenment and engagement with the other.

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Closing of the 144th Assembly, Three Taps of the Gavel Address

Three Taps of the Gavel Address
Closing of the 144th Assembly

Michael E. Hill
18th President of Chautauqua Institution
August 27, 2017

 

“When I was a kid, ‘sanctuary’ meant only one thing. It was the big room with the stained-glass windows and hard wooden benches where my family worshipped every Sunday. Church attendance was not optional for my sisters and me, so that sanctuary was where I learned to pray — pray that the service would end and God would release me back into the wild. I also learned that not all prayers are answered, no matter how ardent.”

These words from Parker Palmer, a columnist and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, speak to me as we conclude our 144th Assembly.  I suspect that many of us came to these sacred grounds and this hallowed grove to find sanctuary: sanctuary from a chaotic world; sanctuary from political divisiveness; sanctuary discovered in community, in the trademark fellowship envisioned by Vincent and Miller 143 years ago when they first scouted out this place that would become our beloved Chautauqua.

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Chautauqua Interfaith Prayer Vigil: Creating Beloved Community After Charlottesville

President Michael Hill's Remarks for the Charlottesville Vigil

I confess to being at a loss today in the wake of what can only be described as an act of homegrown terrorism perpetrated on good people in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend.

I am at a loss to offer words that might attempt to make sense out of something so senseless.

I am at a loss to provide an adequate expression of sympathy to those who continue to feel beaten down by hatred and ignorance and the cancer that is racism.

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PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS as delivered to members of the Bestor Society on August 6, 2017

Following a selection of Mendelssohn performed by a Student Octet of the Music School Festival Orchestra, Timothy Muffit, Music Director

The invitation for today’s event asked you to join me for my first President’s Address to the Bestor Society.  This has been a season of firsts for me as the 18th President of Chautauqua, and truth be told, as I progress with you through our 144th Assembly, I feel both a briskness in the pace of this season and, at moments, as if time has simply stopped, asking us to pause and to drink in all the blessings this sacred place provides.

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Let Us Begin. And Let Us Be Bold

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President Michael E. Hill Delivers His Three Taps Of The Gavel Address To Open The 2017 Season During Sunday's Morning Worship Service June 25, 2017 In The Amphitheater.
 
Photo by: Dave Munch, Chautauquan Daily
 
 
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Civility in Discourse: The Past, Present, and Future of Adult Civic Learning, Remarks Michael E. Hill President

Civility in Discourse: The Past, Present, and Future of Adult Civic Learning 

Free Lecture - Wednesday, May 17th, 2017, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM 
Jefferson Educational Society

In a world no longer easily defined by religion, occupation or geography, can cultural institutions bridge generational divides, such as those between digital immigrants and digital natives?

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President Michael E. Hill Delivers Remarks at the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Remembrance Service at Hurlbut Church

President Michael E. Hill Delivers Remarks at the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Remembrance Service at Hurlbut Church

Good morning, and thank you for assembling in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. The title of today’s service, “We Still Have a Dream,” is a particularly salient one for the times in which we find ourselves, and, quite frankly, is the right emphasis for where we find ourselves in January 2017.

We gather in this sanctuary to honor the legacy of one of the most important civil rights leaders in recent memory. As many of you know, I count my second home as Washington, D.C. If you find yourself there, you simply must go visit the King Memorial on the National Mall. That monument is rich in symbolism. On the site, Dr. King is a towering figure etched in granite, seen emerging from a mountain, referencing the “I Have A Dream” speech we’ll hear later this morning, in which he foreshadows:

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