Big Responsibility

by Avery Share ’15

“Leaders across our culture in business, education and government have a very good appreciation for scales of responsibility,” says Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel H. Ripley Rawlings IV ‘94. “With any new promotion or increase in duties, supervisors measure their subordinates’ ability to handle more responsibility. If you are found lacking, expect fewer duties. If you measure up, expect your burdens to increase. That’s how the scales of responsibility work.”

A Marine Corps infantry and light armored reconnaissance officer currently serving as a strategic planner for the Headquarters of the Marine Corps at the Pentagon, Rawlings says the scales of responsibility in the military are immense. “I’m certain other government and civilian duties are exceedingly challenging, I take nothing away from those duties.” However, for the military Rawlings says, “Lives are the cost of failures or poor planning. For every brilliant decision made in combat, a thousand risks are calculated and weighed against those scales. The most precious element you’re given by the government and the people of the United States are not the millions of dollars of equipment; it’s your unit, your Marines,” says Rawlings, who has led troops on nine deployments including Iraq, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Pacific Islands, Kuwait and Afghanistan. “In combat, subordinates demand responsibility of their leaders. They deserve it, and they make your decisions better every second of the day.”

It’s those Marines to whom Rawlings attributes his success, “Any measure of success we have in the Marine Corps is due fully to our men and women and our leaders.” After his combat deployments in the Marine Corps, his accolades include some of the highest honors given to members of the military. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his combat actions in Iraq, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal— the third-highest honor bestowed upon members of the U.S. Military by the U.S. Department of Defense. The recognition, he says, comes because of the people he worked for and with. None of it, he reflects, is a measure of his own abilities but of those with whom he had the privilege to lead.

“Responsibility is willingly given by leaders to those who are qualified and interested in accepting it,” says Rawlings. “What they do with it is a true test of their ability to accept more responsibility. The scales of responsibility are always there, and Hobart and William Smith prepares students for that by ensuring students are prepared to live lives of consequence.”


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.