26 February 2024 • FacultyResearch Tracing the History of the Adams Intercultural Center

Bilal Akeem '28 looks back at the history of the Adams Intercultural Center.

A new archival research project traces the 54-year history of the Adams Intercultural Center (AIC). The project shines a light on the center’s history as a space for student activism, events and academic support, as well as its close relationship with Higher Education Opportunity Programs.

The project is led by Director of the Adams Intercultural Center Alejandra Molina and her intern Bilal Akeem ’28, an incoming first-year in the Class of 2028.

“Looking back at the history of the AIC has made me realize something,” says Akeem, a homeschool student in Farmington, N.Y. “This space, an inclusive, open environment for students and organizations to gather, to get to know and help each other out, is not only important, but necessary.”

He says the internship has been an exciting initiation to the HWS community, introducing him to alumni, faculty and staff as well as campus resources.

“This position allows me to pursue my interest in history. And I feel prepared ahead of the Fall semester knowing how to access resources in the library,” Akeem says. 

Archival Images, Interviews

By the end of the semester, Akeem and Molina will publish a booklet that will include a timeline, photographs and excerpts from interviews with alumni, staff and Geneva, N.Y. community members including Lillian E. Collins, Beth Henderson, Molina, Terry Smith ’80 and Associate Director of HEOP/AOP Edith Wormley.

"The Adams Intercultural Center history project will not only preserve the legacy of Hobart and William Smith, but will also honor the countless individuals, especially students, who have shaped and enriched its history," Molina says. "Their contributions remind us of the importance of honoring the past and building upon it for a more vibrant future.”

Akeem recently shared early research findings at the HWS Athletics’ “Diversity Dialogue: Spaces and Places” series on Feb. 18. Project updates are also being shared to Instagram @hws_ic. They will present the final booklet to the campus community in April and to alumni during Reunion 2024.

The timing of the research project coincides with two exciting moments on campus. This is the first complete academic year the Adams Intercultural Center has been open following the renovation, expansion and dedication in 2023. This Reunion year is also the 25th anniversary of the Afro-Latino Alumni Association (ALAA).

ALAA, which includes approximately 1,500 alumni, promotes the interests of all graduates of color and has been a driving force behind programs designed to support the success of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

In addition to interviews, Akeem has spent many hours looking through documents and photographs in Archives & Special Collections with Interim Archivist Brandon Moblo in the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

Follow the AIC’s Instagram @hws_IC for project updates.