Biography of Mark D. Gearan

Appointed President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1999, Mark D. Gearan is the former Director of the Peace Corps and, during the Clinton Administration, served in the White House as Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff.

President Gearan is an appointee of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform. The national commission focuses on policy recommendations on electoral system reform, congressional reform and encouragement of greater public service. He is a former member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, a group of cross-sector leaders appointed by President Barack Obama to recommend collaborative solutions to increase civic engagement. He also has been active on the advisory board of The Presidential Appointee Initiative, a project of the Brookings Institution that has worked to revamp the process through which U.S. Presidential appointees are chosen.

A leader in higher education, President Gearan has held leadership roles in numerous organizations including as chair of National Campus Compact, chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, chair of the Annapolis Group of selective liberal arts colleges, and chair of the Talloires Network Steering Committee, an international organization of college and university presidents from six continents committed to civic engagement.

He has also served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, New York Council of Independent Colleges and Universities, New York State Campus Compact and The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He is a member of the Leadership Council for The Franklin Project, a policy program at the Aspen Institute, and is the co-chair of the National Advisory Board on Public Service at Harvard College. 

In Geneva, President Gearan is on the advisory councils of the Happiness House Foundation, Ontario ARC and the Geneva Community Center. From 2014-2015, President Gearan served as chair of the New York State Gaming Commission, a volunteer assignment that provided oversight of the State's newly created agency for the lottery, horse racing and casinos.

On campus, President Gearan stays connected with students, participating in HWS and community events as well as service projects. He is a member of the Political Science Department and has taught courses on modern American politics. He resides on campus with his wife, Mary Herlihy Gearan, who holds a weekly open house for students in their home. They have two daughters, Madeleine and Kathleen, who attended the public school system in grades 1-12.

A native of Gardner, Mass., President Gearan earned his B.A. in government cum laude from Harvard University and his law degree from Georgetown University. He is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees.



Media inquiries should be directed to:
Cathy Williams
Vice President for Communications
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
315-781-3696 (office)
315-759-3584 (cell)
585-727-6471 (home)


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.