Is it our beautiful campus nestled on the shores of Seneca Lake? Our commitment to an interdisciplinary curriculum that leads to a lifetime of intellectual agility? Is it our remarkable alums whose accomplishments astound?
Can it be found on the athletic fields? That feeling in the pit of your stomach before the big game? Cheering on your favorite team?
Is it our dedicated staff? Or our gifted faculty scholars who pour their hearts into the classroom? The remarkable abroad programs? Is it our commitment to service?
Why do we come back, year after year, decade after decade, to revisit the past and forge a new future…
Like many courses at HWS, "Going Home," a first-year seminar taught by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Richard Salter '86, will hit close to home for the course's students as well as its professor.
With an academic and personal core, the course uses significant literary texts, such as Homer's Odyssey, as a starting point to explore the ways we leave "home" and return to find ourselves - and our home - changed.
"In addition to asking students to begin thinking about big questions such as 'Who am I?,' this seminar allows students to connect the coursework to experiences they're having at that moment," says Salter. "Throughout the semester, the students will begin to forge a new home at HWS and they'll return home for Thanksgiving Break. These experiences outside of the classroom will be brought into our study."
These questions about going home will also come into play when they study abroad or leave HWS to make a new home for themselves. "My hope is that the seminar will begin to prepare them to answer questions that they will ask themselves throughout life," Salter says. The importance of these questions is by no means foreign to Salter himself. "As a Hobart graduate, I've made this campus my home as a student and now as a faculty member. It's certainly different, but I still experience the same encouragement to explore as a faculty member that I did as a student."
Salter has also made homes all around the world as a Peace Corps volunteer, researcher and HWS professor. "My experiences have certainly broadened my perspective as a scholar, as a professor and as a person - something I hope my students will do throughout their time at HWS and beyond."
With this in mind, Salter's students are likely to find that, though the Quad or Scandling Campus Center will change with time, Hobart and William Smith - changed as it may be - will always be home for its students, alums, parents and friends.
"I made this place my home by carving out my own path, pursuing biology instead of chemistry like my father and older brother. As a professor, I have a new sense of home in Geneva and on campus now that I'm raising my own children here."- Sigrid Carle '84, professor of biology, William Smith alumna and daughter of Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Ken Carle
"Hobart and William Smith is my home. Everything I've done here, everyone I've met here and everything I've learned here has helped shape me into the man I am today. Coming to HWS was the greatest decision I ever made." - Anthony Hobaica '09, senior class president, Hobart student and assistant coach of the Hobart football team
"They say you can never go home again, but I disagree. You can and should go home again. When I arrived on campus, I knew I had come to the right place. It felt like home. And it may have changed a lot since my graduation, but I still get that same feeling whenever I return." - Tom Connelley '49, Pulitzer-nominated writer, Hobart alumnus and Navy veteran
"The people at HWS are what make it home for me, the students, professors and staff. When I came back after spending a year abroad, a lot of the buildings had changed but the people were the same. The relationships I had made were all still there." - Yanina Wolfe '09, avid traveler, William Smith student and political science and critical studies major
"Though I didn't graduate from HWS, the faculty, staff and students have all reached out to make me a part of the Hobart and William Smith family. I feel at home on campus, and I think having that kind of special relationship with a school is priceless." - Anne Keech P'12, teacher, mother of Ali Keech '12 and wife of Hobart grad Gil Keech '75, P'12
"When I arrived back in Geneva after my 10-month deployment to Africa with the U.S. Marines, the first place I wanted to go was the Quad. I drove straight to HWS, in my uniform, with all of the medals and ribbons I'd just received, and just laid down under a tree on the Quad. I knew I was finally home." - Peter Beaulieu '04, healthcare improvement specialist, Hobart alumnus and Marine