The Hamilton Award and cash prize are presented each year to an unsung hero, a quiet leader, or patient mentor in the field of professional horticulture. It honors the tremendously impactful, though often understated, Dr. Bruce Hamilton, Director Emeritus, Rutgers Gardens. This award seeks to recognize those who embody the essence of selflessness by helping others advance and who place personal ambition aside for the greater good. The ideal nominee is not involved with horticulture for personal gain, but rather for the love of plants and a dedication to the advancement of those plant lovers whose lives they grace.
Dr. Bruce Hamilton (College of Agriculture and Environmental Science '60), associate professor of landscape architecture, and Director Emeritus Rutgers Gardens Director Emeritus Rutgers Gardens 1994-2005 is a well-recognized expert in ornamental horticulture and is considered one of the best teachers at Cook College. Hamilton has garnered more awards from the students for his teaching than any other professor at Cook, including being selected Alpha Zeta Professor of the Year five separate times. He also was recognized by his peers with the Cook College Excellence in Teaching Award for 1994. Dr. Hamilton was also a very active instructor in the Continuing and Professional Education "Short Course" program and was in high demand throughout the state for talks at local Garden Clubs.
Quotes from Dr. Hamilton's former students
"In the background leading to development of any successful professional, there is always one person who provided just the right push at just the right time; not the person who taught you everything you would eventually know but the person who lit the fire and fanned the coals. For me that person was without a doubt, Bruce Hamilton."
"Doc always wore his passion on his sleeve and instilled that passion in all who he touched. To say he did it in an unconventional way would certainly be an understatement. But what he taught by example that was so much more important than the plant knowledge he freely shared, was that true leadership comes from that all-to-uncommon combination of humility and knowledge married to unabashed passion for one’s chosen field."
-Paul Cappiello, Executive Director Yew Dell Gardens, Crestwood, Kentucky
"I certainly would not be standing in front of audiences, large or small, and giving lectures today if it were not for Bruce. He would see certain passions within his students and then encourage those students to explore different ways in which they could express those passions."
-Bruce Crawford, Director, Rutgers Gardens
"I had the honor of serving as Doc’s last TA when I was a graduate student at Rutgers. I got to work with him as he organized each lecture onto slide trays and learned how he paired the photos of plants he obtained over a lifetime with field walks to see actual specimens, all while he peppered in amusing anecdotes and deeply useful practical knowledge. Classes with Doc never felt like work. As with all truly masterful teachers, interested students (and the TA) hung on his every word because he made the subject matter accessible and fun. And somehow, we all realized that Doc was teaching us about more than plants. He was teaching us how to observe the world around us in order to lead richer lives. We had fun and did not even realize we were being so kindly indoctrinated into the magical world of awareness of our own surroundings. I get to talk about plants every day of my life, and Doc Hamilton is still the yardstick I measure myself against as I seek to inspire a love of plants in others."
Ari Novy, PhD Chief Scientist for the Leichtag Foundation
"A large part of what made Bruce Hamilton such a talented instructor was that he cared as much about people as he cared about plants - and without both, horticulture as a discipline simply wouldn't exist. He contrasted humor with rote instruction and firm insistence on scientific names; he blended an artful approach to seeing the entirety of a plant's form and function with folklore and ecology; and he matched his genuine curiosity with a pragmatic desire to see his pupils become the teachers."
-Frederick R. Spicer, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham Botanical Gardens