Lakeviews: On Leadership

Mark Gearan

In the life of Hobart and William Smith, there have been times of dramatic accomplishment when the efforts and momentum of the community have pushed the institution to a new level of excellence. Every time a student earns a prestigious award, a sports team wins a championship, or a donor makes a transformative gift, it enlarges our aspirations and broadens our sense of identity.

Certainly the identity of this institution was forever changed in 1906 when William Smith signed his deed of gift to create the college that bears his name. At the time, the Civil War was a vivid memory, there were only ten miles of paved roadway in the entire United States, and women could not vote.

Into this era of tumultuous and rapid growth came William Smith College, created by an immigrant who was a practical businessman and a hard worker. Unlike many others of the time, he believed that women should be able to study and practice in any field.

Our very structure as coordinate colleges demands equitable education, representation and leadership opportunities. In effect, these Colleges have been a social laboratory for the cultivation of leadership. You have only to look at the accomplishments of our graduates to comprehend the kind of leaders Hobart and William Smith fosters.

Today, we find ourselves once again pushing the boundaries of who we are and what we can accomplish.

Gifts to Campaign for the Colleges, which seeks to raise $160 million, already exceed $105 million. The results of campaign contributions can be seen in an increased endowment, new programs and scholarships, and an already stunning campus enhanced by the addition of new buildings and the renovation of many others.

Since the public phase of Campaign for the Colleges launched last September in New York City, I have had the pleasure of traveling across the country to meet with groups of alumni and alumnae to toast our success and share plans for our future. At each celebration, the enthusiasm and confidence in the Colleges' mission has been infectious.

This energy has made a powerful impression on prospective students and their families. The Colleges are increasingly becoming more selective, with the admit rate for the Classes of 2011 dropping to 53 percent from last year's 64 percent. Our SAT scores have increased substantially, with 719 accepted students receiving merit awards, compared to 639 a year ago. We've admitted 95 more minority students than last year and students will arrive on campus this fall from nearly every state.

Once here, the Classes of 2011 will become passionately engaged in intellectual exploration, the kinds of journeys that have led their predecessors to Rhodes and Gates Scholarhips, half a dozen Goldwaters and numerous Fulbrights. Guided by exceptional faculty and a curriculum that rewards curiosity, they will follow their interests wherever they lead - to faraway countries, graduate-level research here on campus, public service, and the most sought-after internships. Along the way, the Classes of 2011, like all of our students, will craft lives of meaning and consequence - they will become leaders.

In the words of William Smith, we understand that it is not what one is, but what one is and does that counts.

All my best,

Mark D. Gearan

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.