Orientation and Convocation

Beyrer ’81 Opens Academic Year

by Steven Bodnar

Friday, August 29 marked a milestone moment for the Hobart and William Smith Classes of 2018—an impressive group of 653 students from across the country and around the world—as they arrived on campus to begin their college careers and kick off Orientation 2014. Following annual tradition, each first-year student received an individual welcome and handshake from President Mark D. Gearan on the steps of Coxe Hall - the same place students will receive their diplomas at graduation.

At a glance, the Classes of 2018 are academically talented and well-rounded, with 19 class presidents, 181 varsity sports captains, 21 club founders and 443 who participated in community service during high school. More than 100 are legacy students, meaning that one or more family members attended HWS.

On the first full day of Orientation, the Classes of 2018 and more than 100 Orientation leaders and mentors went into the greater Geneva community for the 15th annual day of service. This year, Orientation Coordinators developed the service learning component around the theme of food, hunger and justice.

The 2014-2015 academic year officially opened with the Exercises of Convocation on Stern Lawn where Gearan outlined his vision for the year ahead – to foster and enhance a culture of respect (see page 4 for details). “I challenge all of us to engage in the honest, robust and respectful dialogue that will be required to model programs and initiatives to better serve our students,” Gearan said.

The Convocation keynote address was given by internationally renowned expert on AIDS Dr. Christopher C. Beyrer ‘81, professor at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program. “You’re all now engaged in an intellectual journey, an academic one, but also a profound personal and social one,” said Beyrer. “…the reality is that how each of you interact with each other, shapes how you will engage with the wider world ahead.”

Beyrer said the Classes of 2018 are members of the most tolerant generation the country has seen in decades, noting that it’s because of their efforts and the influence of their peers that change is happening. But, he said, there is still much to be done, particularly around issues of AIDS/HIV and inequalities faced by people all around the world. Beyrer urged the campus community to focus on treating one another with compassion. “Because the best part of respect, of dignity, and of gender equality is that it so profoundly feeds the soul,” Beyrer said. “Nothing feels better than taking care of others. Nothing is more rewarding than giving. And finding love, in all its varied forms, is the hidden jewel at the center of our desires.”


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.