Consortium and Member Institutions Join in Recognition of Hudson’s 400th Anniversary

In addition to marking the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the Hudson River, the Hudson–Fulton–Champlain Quadricentennial Commission was established to commemorate Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the Lake Champlain Region 400 years ago and the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s historic steamboat journey from Albany to New York City.

The Environmental Consortium’s 5th annual River Summer program will incorporate the Quadricentennial spirit this year. This July, the program will use the history of the Hudson River as a unifying theme through its modules. Through participation in River Summer, faculty come together for a unique cooperative teaching and learning experience. River Summer uses interdisciplinary and team teaching for a hands on – on the River – experience. Members of the Consortium participate as faculty and “students,” on board SUNY Stony Brook University’s research vessel, Seawolf.

Funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation and coordinated by Margie Turrin and Tim Kenna of Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute of Columbia University, River Summer will explore the history of the Hudson and its effect on political, economic and sociological influences on the river, while investigating the natural, biological and chemical features, as well as the confluence of all the subject matters that make our Valley so special. "This summer we are excited to be working with West Point instructors to include an in depth look at this historic fort, its rich history, geology, and contributions on every level to the Hudson Valley. This is truly fitting for the Quadricentennial year," noted Turrin. Setting sail on July 9th, River Summer 2009 will consist of three modules covering the area from the New York/ New Jersey Harbor to the headwaters of the Hudson in the Adirondacks. View the River Summer itinerary.

Pace University will be participating in the Quadricentennial with a premiere presentation of a play based on the journal of Robert Juet, a crew member on the 1609 expedition led by Henry Hudson. The 1609 journey was the third time the Dutch East India Company hired Hudson to find a Northeast Passage; this time he found what is now called the Hudson River. He followed the river for 150 miles, during which Robert Juet documented their experiences in his historic journal. Commissioned by Pace Provost Geoffrey Brackett, the play has been written by Joseph Bruchac, a writer and educator of Abenaki descent.

According to Brackett, “We wanted to contribute a meaningful consideration of the impact of Hudson’s exploration on Native American people. Pace University thought it was essential that the perspective of all relevant cultures be incorporated in our recognition of this historic event, not just the Eurocentric viewpoint.” In collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian, a troupe of students from Pace’s performing arts program will produce and perform the play in New York City. Additional performances are scheduled through partnering institutions: Marist College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Russell Sage College

Marist College, a member of the Environmental Consortium, is playing a significant role in the Quadricentennial. Marist was the first college, university or school to be recognized as a partner in the New York State’s Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission.

Tara Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Commission, presented an official Quadricentennial flag to Marist College in September 2008, signifying the importance of the college’s role in the historical celebration. The flag was delivered at a luncheon hosted by the School of Communication and Arts Dean, Steven Ralston. According to Ralston, "The work performed by our students in support of Quadricentennial activities is very much in keeping with Marist's ideals of excellence in education, the importance of community, and the principle of service." He also added, "Thanks to our strategic location along the banks of the Hudson River and our outstanding educational programs, Marist students and faculty members are serving as leaders in promoting this important celebration."

As an example, students enrolled in Mark Van Dyke’s "Public Relations Case Studies" classes were able to work with Quadricentennial officials to help develop a communication plan to promote the 2009 events. New York Governor David Paterson addressed the 2009 graduates at Marist’s 63rd commencement incorporated a Quadricentennial theme, and on June 10th, the replica of the Half Moon docked at Longview Park along Marist’s riverfront for a day of education as part of River Day. Looking ahead, Marist will host the Saturday portion of the September 25-26, 2009 conference, Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Conference: America’s First River: The Hudson. This two-day conference is being co-sponsored by The Hudson River Valley Institute, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the National Park Service, and the New York State Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, and will cover diverse topics including history, commerce, art, the River’s first peoples, forgotten landmarks, Dutch-American relations, and more. Full details and agenda can read in the Hudson River Valley Institute’s June newsletter. On October 3rd, a reenactment of the former Intercollegiate Rowing Association Poughkeepsie Regatta will take place along the Marist riverfront.

Fordham University, another Consortium member institution, has contributed an impressive resource to the Quadricentennial commemoration. Under the guidance of Dr. Roger Panetta, visiting history professor at Fordham, thirteen undergraduate sophomores of the Honors Program at Fordham College at Lincoln Center have created a Hudson-Fulton Celebration website. During his course, "Trends in New York City," students researched, wrote and designed the newly implemented website which was completed in the fall 2008 semester. The website uses primary sources chronicling the celebration as it unfolded and secondary studies of New York City in the early twentieth century. The students’ mission was to create a resource that would promote a better understanding of the celebration that occurred on the 300th anniversary of the exploration of the Hudson River. To learn more and navigate the digital website, visit Dr. Panetta is also co-curator of the Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture exhibition at the Hudson River Museum, and editor of the exhibition’s companion catalog.

This snapshot outlines just a few opportunities to engage in this year’s historic Henry Hudson anniversary. To find out more about the multitude of events taking place and how to get involved, explore the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission’s Explore NY 400 website!