Eric Lax '66, L.H.D. '93

Hobart West Coast Regional Vice President

Best-selling author
Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Herald
The Chapel
Captain of the swim team, after Bristol Gym was completed
Worked as a book stacker the library

Major: English

Why did you choose Hobart and William Smith Colleges? I grew up in Southern California, and I spent a lot of time in the ocean. My English teacher said if I stayed in San Diego I would become a beach bum, and he encouraged me to go to college on the East Coast. The HWS team won the GE College Bowl at that time and the Colleges seemed an interesting place. Of no small import, my father was an Episcopal priest and Hobart gave me a clergy scholarship, which along with a job in the SAGA kitchen made it possible for me to attend.

How do you stay connected to the Colleges? With pleasure. I've remained involved since graduating—I helped organize our 40th and 50th class reunions and my wife Karen and I have had the pleasure of hosting several HWS events in L.A. Also I've had the honor of knowing all of the HWS presidents since I attended.

What makes the Colleges special? First and foremost the accessibility of the faculty and administration. I knew my professors and Dean Ben Atkinson and Louis Hirshson—who students now know as a dormitory but I knew as the president—very well. I could knock on their doors at any time. That sense of community with everyone on campus made a big difference to me. I was also part of a special and wildly interesting class (everyone says that about their own)—the Class of 1966.

Why do you give back to HWS? I believe in a liberal arts education and what it offers not just for studies but also for life. HWS taught me critical thinking but also how to think. I learned to find information and facts beyond my courses and then make the best sense of them. I want today's students to continue to have this opportunity.

What advice would you give to an incoming or current HWS student? Take it all in. Take courses that you never dreamed would be interesting or useful to your career because everything matters. Don't be afraid to be challenged, to learn something different—be willing to be surprised.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.