One of the many privileges of serving as President is the opportunity it offers to meet with alumni and alumnae across the nation. And now, in my fourth year, I increasingly have the good fortune to keep in touch with former students - now alums - and to see firsthand the benefits of their Hobart and William Smith education.
It is gratifying to read an e-mail from a former fraternity president who is now a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania, or to receive an update from a wonderful pianist for the Colleges' chorale, now a William and Mary law student, or from a student activist who is now a young Wall Street entrepreneur. Similarly, at events around the country, I have enjoyed hearing about the career plans and aspirations of young alums I knew as students. From the Ph.D. candidate at Rice University to the third grade teacher in New York City, I frequently ask the question: How well prepared do you feel? How did your undergraduate experience make you ready for your next step in life? Invariably, the response is the same. Our graduates prize the kind of engagement with faculty and staff that this campus offers, and believe that their academic experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges was excellent preparation for graduate school or work.
It is this kind of engagement that is the centerpiece of our strategic plan, HWS 2005. We want to extend that engagement to our alumni and alumnae. With a revamped Web site, e-newsletter and redesigned Pulteney St. Survey, we are seeking better ways to communicate with graduates and update them about the energy and spirit that exists on campus today. Bolstered alumni events around the country contribute to the sense of community and pride in the institution that I have seen during my years as President.
This issue of the Survey details Bill Scandling's remarkable engagement with the Colleges. Bill stands as an extraordinary example of a graduate who has shared his resources with the Colleges and significantly has shared his time and professional talents. The old adage of "time, talent and treasure" is an apt one for Bill. I am enormously grateful for his generosity, good counsel and selfless dedication.
To be sure, we recognize that not everyone will be in a position to dedicate resources like Bill has. But our hope is that all alumni and alumnae will engage themselves with the Colleges in some ways. Whether you serve as an admissions volunteer, class agent, annual fund participant, or just display the Pulteney St. Survey in your office, you can make a difference for the Colleges. Our ability to continue the momentum we enjoy is greatly enhanced by the active engagement of alumni and alumnae.
Each day I am struck by the commitment and loyalty of HWS graduates to their alma mater. With our focus on engagement and the implementation of our strategic plan, I am confident that we are poised to significantly enhance our position among the nation's best liberal arts colleges. While I have presided at only three Commencement exercises, I have now met many graduates and have come to admire their personal and professional successes. They have built lives of meaning and productivity. We continue to prepare our students with the skills and perspective they will need as tomorrow's leaders in this dynamic new century. In doing so, we ensure that future HWS presidents will receive the same answer I have received when querying graduates about the quality of their undergraduate experience.
Mark D. Gearan
Winter 2003 Pulteney St. Survey