Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I am honored to serve as the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and grateful to the many alumni, alumnae, parents, faculty, students and staff who have already extended such a warm welcome to me. Your enthusiasm for the Colleges and your passion for our collective future are palpable.

Already in my short time here, I'm getting a sense of the character of the Colleges. Nearly every person with whom I have interacted has told me a story about an admissions counselor, professor, coach, staff member or alum who took a chance on them or who encouraged them in some significant way. Just the other day, an alumna reached out to the Colleges via social media to tell us that she is "eternally grateful to HWS - You turned us into explorers of ourselves."

What a great phrase - explorers of ourselves. That is what an excellent liberal arts education provides - the tools necessary to explore and to take joy in doing so. Hobart and William Smith is a place that values the life of the mind as it also prepares students to lead lives of purpose and meaning, what the Colleges call "lives of consequence." That mission of intellectual discovery and self-actualization resonates powerfully, and is one of the things that attracted me to Hobart and William Smith.

A key component of my first year as president is learning all I can about the Colleges and beginning to develop connections with the people who make this place special. I've made "Explore HWS" the theme of my first year because I want to encourage everyone around me to participate actively in the practice of learning and to see the Colleges from new perspectives. You can follow along on my journey of exploration through my podcast, in which I interview some of the intriguing people who teach and learn here, as well as the graduates who bring such pride to the Colleges. I've also launched Instagram and Twitter accounts so as to share visuals of some of the things I'm discovering, like a first edition (1651) of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (one of my favorite books) in the Colleges' Archives and the lab table of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. That table, pictured on the opposite page, is a powerful representation of the determination and accomplishments of one of the Colleges' most notable graduates. I have since moved it to the President's Office as a reminder to visitors and myself of the insight and perseverance that echo through the Colleges' history.

We are at a pivotal time in the life of the Colleges and in the history of higher education. Disruption is a prevailing theme, whether in the form of shifting demographics of college-bound students or new technologies that are challenging us to rethink how to learn. Cost and financial aid are critical concerns as we seek to make a Hobart and William Smith education accessible. But for students of history, this theme of disruption is nothing new. Every generation faces some degree of disorder, and every generation is measured by its ability to rise to its challenges.

I believe the Colleges' ability to rise to its current challenges will be determined in no small part, as it has in the past, by the commitment and confidence of our graduates, faculty and staff, current students and parents. I invite you to explore the Colleges by serving as a volunteer, joining me for a campus event or attending one of the many regional events we have planned around the nation. Together, we can enhance the academic effectiveness of the institution, expand our reputation and build our financial resources with the goal of ensuring that all HWS graduates go on to lead lives of consequence.


Joyce P. Jacobsen