HWS Summer Bridge Program

July 5 - August 9, 2014

Program Overview

First-year students have an opportunity to participate in the HWS Summer Bridge Program, a five-week academically-intensive summer residential program for incoming students. With a focus on writing, analytical and research skills, the program is intended to further develop in students the necessary skills to be successful at the Colleges.

Twenty students are selected to participate in the Summer Bridge Program and take courses on the Hobart and William Smith campus during the summer (July 5- Aug. 9) before the first-year. Courses cover a variety of topics including College Writing, Geoscience, Critical Thinking, and Study Skills for College Success, and are taught by faculty members and staff experts.

As the first leg of incoming students' four-year academic journey, the Summer Bridge Program is intended for students who need additional work in foundational skills for college success. The courses are designed to provide small classroom settings where students can work closely with faculty, staff and other undergraduate students in developing their academic skills. In addition to skill development, the program provides students with an in-depth orientation to campus services, learning strategies and time management. Participants are supported by undergraduate students who live in the residence hall with them, many of whom attended similar programs before their first-year on campus. These students provide peer-to-peer mentorship in study, research and writing skills.

Students in the Summer Bridge Program also work closely with incoming first-year students and staff in the Academic Opportunity Program’s Summer Institute, an annual program designed to provide broad and varied educational experiences to capable students who might otherwise not have an opportunity to attend college. The two programs share faculty, advisers, and students in their preparatory processes.

Participants in the Summer Bridge Program are on a rigorous schedule throughout the five weeks with classes and academic instruction happening throughout the day and evening. Weekend activities in the region are mandatory and include visits to State Parks, excursions to local museums and historic sites, and boating on Seneca Lake, among others.

Programs like the Summer Bridge Program and the Academic Opportunity Program are regarded as among the most successful of their type in the nation based on student achievement and graduation rates. By creating a supportive academic and social environment before classes start, students enter their first semester with a sense of community, academic confidence and clarity on how to succeed in college.


  • Take college courses with faculty members.
  • Earn college credit before the first semester of the first-year.
  • Develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills that will be useful for the next four years.
  • Acclimate early to the campus and its resources.
  • Learn effective time management and study skills habits.
  • Build relationships with faculty and staff, current undergraduates, and other incoming students.
  • Experience living in a residence hall.
  • Gain confidence in their academic abilities.


  • First generation college students.
  • Students who need to develop their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.


The $5,000 cost for this five-week, immersive academic program includes all housing, meals, materials and field study trips. Scholarships are available for students with demonstrated need.


Because much of what one is asked to write in college requires the writer to express his or her own ideas in a convincing, credible manner, this course emphasizes developing the writer's "voice." The course stresses what habits of mind and work lead to an effective essay with an emphasis on the general mechanics of syntax, sentence structure and grammar. The goal is to meet a new writer’s need for focus, cohesion and organization. (Taught by Ben Ristow and Elizabeth Wells)

This course introduces students to the debates surrounding what it means to be a citizen of a democratic society. Through discussions, group activities, lectures, films and readings, students will consider their obligations to the state as a member of a democratic society, who gets to become a citizen and what, if anything, they owe to their peers. (Taught by Justin Rose)

This course is a basic introduction to water in the atmosphere, lakes, oceans and other reservoirs found on land and its movement among reservoirs. We will explore (1) atmospheric moisture; (2) floods and stream processes; (3) the physical, chemical and ecological characteristics of lakes and oceans; and (4) aquifers and groundwater processes. We will also introduce quantitative and different methods of measurement to examine the characteristics and importance of water resources. (Taught by David Finkelstein and Tara Curtin)


DeWayne Lucas
Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor of Political Science
A member of the faculty since 2000, Lucas regularly teaches courses on American politics and research methodology. His research deals with the decision-making processes of Congress, particularly the House of Representatives and the role of party polarization. Since 2013, he has served as the Associate Dean of Faculty and directs the Summer Bridge program. Lucas holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and has a M.A. and Ph.D. from Binghamton University.

Tara Curtin
Associate Professor of Geoscience
Curtin teaches courses in environmental geology, geomorphology, sedimentary rocks, and global climate change. Her research focuses on interpreting the ancient climate history recorded by lake sediments. She received a B.A. from Colgate University, M.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona at Tucson.

David B. Finkelstein
Assistant Professor of Geoscience
Finkelstein teaches courses in Earth system science, oceanography, hydrogeology and geochemistry. His research interests include the relationships between sediments, water and organic geochemistry in modern and ancient lake environments to the role of fire during the Cretaceous. He received both a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ben Ristow
Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric
Ristow teaches introductory and advanced writing courses in composition, rhetoric, and creative writing. His research focuses on the concept of craft in writing workshops and within other artistic disciplines. In addition to his scholarship, he writes short fiction and helps direct our curriculum-based peer tutoring program (Writing Colleagues) at the Colleges. With fellow faculty member Elizabeth Wells, he teaches the writing course and works closely with the Writing Colleagues who will support student writers in the Summer Bridge Program.

Justin Rose
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Rose is an expert at the intersection of social justice and American politics, and teaches courses on urban politics, racial and ethnic politics and American politics. Rose’s current research is on the political thought of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is also interested in the role that institutions of higher education can play to mitigate the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline on the African-American community. He received a B.A. from Rutgers University, a M.A. from Baylor University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Elizabeth Wells
Adjunct Instructor for Writing and Rhetoric
As an adjunct instructor for the Writing and Rhetoric Department, Elizabeth Wells teaches the introductory Writer’s Seminar course for first-year students. In her courses, she focuses on developing a greater familiarity with the writing process – with all of its psychological, practical and analytical underpinnings – by studying the relationship between language and identity. Her current critical interests involve the intersections of psychological narrative with studies on disability, race and gender.


DeWayne Lucas
Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of the Summer Bridge Program

Phone: 315-781-3902
E-Mail: lucas@hws.edu


Fill out the online application or call the Office of the Provost at (315) 781-3902.


June 6 - Applications Due
June 13 - Acceptance Announced
June 20 - Fees Due to Colleges
July 5 - Arrival and Move-In
August 9 - Departure