November 15, 2016

To the HWS Community:

In the past week I have had the opportunity to reflect on the election and its implications, benefit from the perspective of two President's Forum speakers, talk with students on campus and our First Year students who visited Washington D.C. with their First Year Seminars, and engage in discussions with faculty and staff. I have talked with Clinton supporters, Trump supporters, Johnson and Stein supporters and those who did not vote.

It is clear to me that many of us are searching for answers and analysis, causes or justifications. Everyone has their own perspective and each of us has experienced this in very personal ways. I have my own viewpoints and my own evolving analysis of the results.

But today I write as President of Hobart and William Smith – a title and role I have valued and been privileged to hold for 17 years – and a trust given to me that I have worked to honor and respect.

And so my message is a simple one: if the election results and following conversations have left anyone on our campus feeling under attack or unsafe, know that HWS will stand with you. Know that there are caring faculty, staff and fellow students who will be there for you. We value diversity and always strive toward a more equitable and just community for all.

After all, this is a campus whose very founders – Bishop John Henry Hobart and William Smith – reflect a resolve for inclusion and belonging. Bishop Hobart ordained the first African American Episcopal priest in New York State, only the second in the country. And William Smith, inspired by the activists and events in nearby Seneca Falls, founded a women's college long before women could vote.

At Convocation I quoted one of my favorite speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." And I reminded students of President Obama's important addition to Dr. King's quote that it will not bend on its own.

Our task is to work to bend that arc of justice. Each of us can build and enhance our campus community and model it to our nation and world. With meaningful dialogue and service to the Geneva community, we can all make a difference.

So let us enter this season of Thanksgiving grateful that we live in a campus community where ideas and values are matched with care and action. HWS is a special place. Let us resolve to honor our history and show real community.


Mark D. Gearan


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