18 January 2024 • FacultyResearch “Life-Changing Impacts”: Gift Supports Opportunity and Experience By Andrew Wickenden '09

A new gift celebrates first-generation students and wide-ranging research opportunities, with support for an endowed scholarship and four endowed summer research funds.

The more Deb Metz and Ron Scoma learned about Hobart and William Smith, the more opportunities they saw to make a difference in the lives of students for generations to come. Now, through the Ronald Scoma and Deborah Metz Endowed Scholarship, first-generation students will have critical support to pursue their educational and career goals at HWS in perpetuity, while the Deborah Metz and Ronald Scoma Endowed Summer Research Fund in Honor of Professor Nicholas Metz will create new avenues for research collaborations between students and faculty.

“Deb and Ron’s investment in Hobart and William Smith will create concrete, life-changing impacts for our students,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “In our conversations, it was clear how much their values resonate with the mission of HWS and our emphasis on student-faculty research and increasing access to promising students. I am tremendously grateful to Deb and Ron for their generosity, which will enable us to prepare more students than ever to lead lives of consequence.”

Metz and Scoma first got to know HWS through visits on campus with their nephew Nick Metz, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Development and a Professor in the Geoscience Department. “Nick would enthusiastically describe his work there, the experiences that were offered to the students, and the successful careers that some of its graduates had gone on to achieve,” says Deb Metz.

“He has always been enthusiastic about HWS, its academic programs, small student body, the intimacy and what struck me as an emphasis on student support, success and diversity,” Scoma recalls. “Deb and I both wondered how our lives might have been impacted if we had been able to go to HWS. We kept having much the same conversation, after every conversation with Nick, in which he enthusiastically talked about his experience at HWS.”

Both first-generation college graduates, “Ron and I had often talked about what the implications might have been for ourselves if we had had the opportunity to attend a college like HWS after graduating from high school. As we talked about our own futures, we wondered about the possibility of supporting a student with circumstances similar to our own to pursue a degree at HWS,” says Metz, who earned her degree while working fulltime as a hospital administrator.

As they returned to this conversation — and began meeting HWS staff and administrators — she and Scoma learned about the ways HWS academics and student support intersected and reinforced each other. “I felt confident that HWS’ academic programs, small student body and what struck me as an emphasis on support, success and diversity mirrored my own priorities,” says Metz.

She and Scoma were especially inspired by the personal and academic support built into HWS’ First Generation Program and Undergraduate Summer Research Program.

Scoma, who grew up in the foster care system and worked his way through college, says that he saw his undergraduate education as “an opportunity for a successful professional life. It is important to both of us that any student who might receive the assistance has an opportunity to take advantage of as much as possible of what HWS has to offer for their own lives and, hopefully, the larger community.  I would also hope that the students, if ever possible, as they go forward with success in their own lives, will think to perhaps ‘pay it forward’ at HWS.”

FURTHER TOGETHER: The Campaign for Our Third Century

Through their bequest, Metz and Scoma have created an endowed scholarship, which will be awarded to academically qualified and financially deserving first-generation students; their gift also creates four endowed summer research funds supporting on-campus student-faculty collaborations.

By supporting students in these ways, Metz says, “the idea of creating an educational legacy through HWS seems like a 'perfect fit.’”