As I write this letter from Geneva, our campus has been following the news coverage of the war in Iraq with great interest. In my remarks during a day-long symposium on the war and the attendant issues which featured outside experts and members of our faculty, I noted that our own HWS community has been personally affected by the call-up of reservists from our student body. Our thoughts are with all of the men and women in the military and their families. We all hope and pray for their safe and quick return.
I also observed that in such a challenging time in our nation's history, the fabric of a community can be easily challenged. I believe sessions like the New World Order symposium allow our students, faculty, staff and our Geneva neighbors the chance to explore these issues. Indeed, an academic community is exactly the right place for this intellectual journey. Our students have the chance to take advantage of speakers, faculty and others to form and inform their opinions.
In doing so, we must also respect the diversity of opinion and foster the sense of community to which we all aspire?one that values civil discourse and inquiry allowing for a greater appreciation and understanding of the issues.
Today's Hobart and William Smith ensures that our students experience the kind of intellectual engagement that will prepare them for the 21st century. The vision in our strategic plan, HWS 2005, and the recommendations we are presently implementing will enhance our position among the nation's top liberal arts colleges. A key part of this theme of engagement is our responsibility to report to our alumni and alumnae on the state of the Colleges and our stewardship of this remarkable institution.
Citing a long history of positive operating performance, stable demand and enrollment, a talented and well-focused management team and a large increase in endowment over the past decade, the Standard & Poor's Rating Services has assigned its 'A' rating to Hobart and William Smith Colleges. An 'A' rating reflects the service's confidence in the stability of the Colleges and the institution's ability to successfully manage its finance and operations.
In light of this powerful validation, as well as the unprecedented growth and momentum we are currently experiencing on campus, I want to begin a conversation with all alumni, alumnae, parents and friends about the importance of participation in the future of Hobart and William Smith.
An essential task of any college president is to generate and gather the energy and resources necessary to make an institution thrive. In the nearly four years that I have been president of these Colleges, it has been my privilege to meet thousands of alumni and alumnae who have used their HWS education as a foundation for fascinating lives. Many of you stay connected to the Colleges through The Pulteney St. Survey or our monthly e-newsletter ? Hill & Quad. Some of you click on our Web site and log on to the HWS online community. Hundreds of you attend regional HWS Club events across the country. No matter where you acquire HWS news, I hope you understand that every success we have and every new initiative we undertake is a direct result of dependable, annual contributions to Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
What may not be as obvious are the ancillary benefits of strong alumni and alumnae participation as calculated by support of the Annual Fund. Our ability to leverage new resources from foundations is enhanced with strong reporting of this statistic. The "Alumni Participation" statistic is a computation of the percentage of alums giving to the annual fund - regardless of the amount of the contribution. Additionally, college guides and rankings use this statistic in their calculations. Although net amount of gifts is critical, the broad-based nature of giving can have a significant impact.
I hope you will join us in our effort to enhance HWS and better prepare our students for this important century. By investing in the future of the Colleges, you ensure that tomorrow's leaders will have the benefit of a high quality liberal arts education to address the challenge and opportunities that confront them.
I thank you in advance for your support and dedication.
Mark D. Gearan
Spring 2003 Pulteney St. Survey