Convocation 2006

David Deming '75, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Welcoming Remarks
August 30, 2006

Good afternoon, and welcome to President Gearan, members of the Board, Dorothy Wickenden, David Rickey and his family, faculty, staff, students and members of the Geneva Community.

I stand here today on the shoulders of those board chairs from the past years who have elevated these Colleges to where we begin today: Charlie Salisbury, Tom Melly and Bill Scandling, names that this institution knows well and has benefited for their bold leadership, vision and love for the Colleges. This new chapter of board leadership strives to maintain and accelerate the wonderful positive momentum built under President Mark Gearan’s leadership.

You might wonder: what are the roles of the president and board chair?

President’s Gearan’ job, as president of Hobart and William Smith, is defined as leading and managing the institution. My role, as chair of the Board of Trustees, is leading and managing the board. We have an extraordinarily engaged and committed board who stand firmly behind all of you in our effort to provide the tools and environment necessary to enhance a 21st Century educational community.

We are grateful to President Gearan’s leadership over the past seven years—this is a different place with his leadership, and the Board recognizes his tireless dedication to Hobart and William Smith.

Our board of trustees is comprised of 40 individuals from across the country whose expertise ranges from health care to investment banking, from journalism to real estate development and from construction to education. Our board has received great service from the two elected voting student trustees. Their counsel is invaluable and we have a better board than most colleges because of their impact. We convene three times a year in Geneva and multiple times throughout the year in other cities—depending on their committee service. Several committees on the board build in faculty, staff and student participation to ensure solid, collective thinking on important topics that impact our campus community.

The board has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure HWS operates within its annual budget as well as the responsibility to raise additional funds to support the ongoing improvements here. Underpinning our work is a common objective of bettering HWS’s reputation in the market. This goal cuts across every aspect of this community. As I mentioned earlier, HWS has been on a positive trajectory for over five years, and we work tirelessly to ensure you have the resources to take us to new heights.

What are we doing about it?

Well most immediately, the Capital Campaign officially kicks off with the public phase on September 21 at Lincoln Center in Manhattan and follows with the campus celebration on Saturday evening, November 4, here in Geneva. We are hopeful that we’ll shortly be able to announce that we’re at $90 million toward our goal of $160 million.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank all of those staff and faculty members who have participated in the campaign effort thus far. Your participation has great salience as we export that news to those alums we are trying engage in this important endeavor. The campaign has two major fund-raising priorities: our capital projects and building our endowment, both critical to maintaining our place as a leading liberal arts college.

A lot has been accomplished to date with the creation of multiple endowed scholarships and endowed internships—bolstering the access for many to college and then ensuring that our students are well positioned for life after college with our enhanced focus on career services.

Several building enhancements have been made in the past few years with the creation of this space. Behind me, Stern Hall is holding 40 new faculty offices and 10 classrooms. We’ve also seen the rebirth of Trinity Hall as the home for the Salisbury Center for Career Services along with the Public Service Office and off-campus programs. The Finger Lakes Institute, Bozzuto Boathouse, McCooey Field, de Cordova and North Halls, the redesign of Jackson, Potter and Rees and several other residence halls. This fall, we are about to dedicate two new important facilities at the Houghton House estate. The Goldstein Family Carriage House and The Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Building will allow for our visual arts to stretch out from the cramped environment of past years. And there is more to come …

As a board, we’re proud of what we’ve all collectively accomplished at these Colleges. And from where I began, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this great group of trustees—they love this place, as do I.

To the students here with us today: you have a great gift in front of you with tremendous faculty and a robust campus environment with first-class athletic programs, dozens of robust student clubs and organizations, many leadership opportunities and a wealth of interesting speakers throughout the academic year. Do yourself a favor – embrace these opportunities because it’ll be over before you blink.

Thank you.