June 27, 2014

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community, 

With the successful close of the academic year and beginning of the summer months, I write to provide an update from Geneva and our plans for the year ahead. 

We celebrated the end of the year at Commencement, where our seniors heard from Brad Falchuk ’93, L.H.D. ’14 who, as one might expect from the co-creator, writer and executive producer of the hit television shows “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” delivered a thoughtful speech about the nature of failure and the creation of heroes. As the Colleges begin construction on the new Performing Arts Center this summer, Falchuk was presented with an honorary degree, as were four other individuals whose dedication to and leadership in the arts are a lifelong passion: Dr. Reynold Levy '66, L.H.D. ’14, former president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Dorothy Wickenden '76, L.H.D. ’14, executive editor of The New Yorker; and local Geneva philanthropists and arts supporters Nozomi Williams L.H.D. ’14 and Carl Fribolin L.H.D. ’14.

Commencement was a fitting end to an exceptional year summarized by this brief video that conveys the excitement of life on campus as well as the purposeful way in which we approach education. Our faculty members have continued to distinguish themselves through dedication and commitment to our students in the classroom as well as through research, publications and presentations on dozens of subjects. I was very pleased to appoint Professor and Chair of French and Francophone Studies Catherine Gallouët as the next Dean of William Smith College. Professor Gallouët has been a dedicated faculty member at HWS for 27 years and brings a wealth of experience in the classroom with deep understanding of our students.  In addition to her commitment to our students, she is an accomplished scholar whose many publications speak to her impressive record of research and exposition.   

In 2013 Hobart and William Smith were among the colleges and universities that produced the most 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Students. We are proud that two more students will benefit from the Fulbright award and travel to Taiwan and Malaysia. This year our students earned a Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, which provides preparation for a career in the Foreign Service; the Goldwater, the nation’s premier undergraduate award in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering; an Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship which includes an internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra­tion; and the Newman Civic Fellow which is awarded by Campus Compact to students working for solutions facing their communities. This spring, a first-year student, Ato Bentsi-Enchill ’17, was named the 2014 winner of The Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch, the Colleges’ annual entrepreneurial contest which has provided him with a $10,000 grant to develop his idea for an online educational service for students in Ghana. And, thanks to the generosity of Honorary Trustee Charles H. Salisbury Jr. '63, P'94, L.H.D.'08, three rising seniors will spend their summers in internships around the globe as part of the Salisbury Summer International Internship Stipend Award. They are three of the hundreds of students engaged in internships this summer alone.

This was also an outstanding year in every sport, most notably when, under the leadership of Head Coach Aliceann Wilber, William Smith Soccer won the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer National Championship for the second time in the program’s history. Hobart Basketball won the Liberty League tournament for the second year in a row, while Hobart Football won all nine of its regular season games this year, posting its second straight undefeated regular season. William Smith Field Hockey earned its third consecutive and 21st overall NCAA tournament appearance. After winning gold medals at the Liberty League and New York State championships, the William Smith Rowing team's varsity eight raced in its fifth straight NCAA Championship. Hobart Rowing capped the 2013-14 season with participation in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship regatta for the 10th time. William Smith College sailors secured their best finish in program history at the ICSA Women's National Championship.  And just last week, Liberty League Commissioner Tracy King announced that Richie Bonney '14 and Olivia Zitoli '14 are the 2013-14 Liberty League Scholar-Athletes of the Year for their commitment to athletics, academics and service.

In the midst of these many accomplishments, we learned in April that the Colleges were included on a list of 60 colleges and universities about which the Department of Education has received a complaint regarding Title IX enforcement and sexual misconduct. As I stated in my letter to all alumni, alumnae and parents in May, the health, safety and wellbeing of all students is of paramount concern to the Colleges. We take sexual misconduct very seriously and are working to prevent and combat it. As we have done in the past, we will continue to provide the HWS community with information on our efforts.  

As we seek to inspire our students to lead lives of consequence, during the last academic year the Colleges invited dozens of alums, parents and notable public figures to campus to speak with students about careers in everything from digital marketing to finance to government, as well as to discuss politics, the arts, the environment and inclusive excellence. In the fall, we presented the 39th Elizabeth Blackwell Award to the Most Reverend Doctor Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to serve as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Hobart College awarded the Medal of Excellence to Dr. Christopher C. Beyrer '81, an internationally renowned expert on AIDS, who is the founding director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Johns Hopkins University Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program. The Medal of Excellence was also conferred on Jeffrey L. Amestoy '68, P'11, P'14, a Fellow of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the former Chief Justice of Vermont Supreme Court.

The Colleges hosted one of the largest Reunions in our history in early June with alumni and alumnae gathering from around the world to share life stories and celebrate connections to one another and their alma maters. This video summarizes the weekend’s many highlights. After the festivities concluded, I received an email from Liam Allman ’15, a Hobart student who remained on campus to assist with Reunion activities. Liam writes that attending Reunion and having the opportunity to interact with alums “…only instilled further my own feelings of pride, honor and gratitude for being given the opportunity to study and live in such an amazing community.” Liam’s note is a heartfelt bookend to an unforgettable weekend as well as a reminder of the important role that alumni and alumnae play in the lives of our students.

The momentum we are experiencing on campus has resulted in increased interest from prospective students who are applying and enrolling in record numbers. The Classes of 2018 will arrive this fall with an enhanced academic profile and greater diversity than ever before. Giving to the Colleges has also increased as we’ve completed fundraising for the Performing Arts Center. The next issue of The Pulteney Street Survey, which will arrive in homes at the beginning of July, includes details on a new fundraising initiative that leverages a recent bequest from William F. Scandling ’49, LL.D. ’67 to encourage philanthropy in support of scholarships, guaranteed internships and entrepreneurial leadership initiatives. The efforts of the entire Hobart and William Smith community – through volunteering and consistent giving to the Annual Fund – have made this success possible.     

With gratitude for your continued support of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and for your confidence in our future, I thank you.


Mark D. Gearan


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