As an Orientation weekend jammed with activities-from a Day of Service to meetings with first-year professors-wound down and Orientation 2009 drew to a close, the Hobart and William Smith Classes of 2013 received their official initiation into the Colleges.
The annual John Henry Hobart and William Smith Dean’s Welcome dinners serve as the final stages of Orientation. Although each dinner is slightly different, with Hobart’s serving as the official matriculation of students, both Hobart and William Smith students sang their alma maters and heard from their deans, student government leaders, the presidents of their respective alumni or alumnae associations.
President Mark D. Gearan asked members of the Classes of 2013 to realize the privilege and responsibility they take on as members of “the one percent of people worldwide who have the incredible opportunity to attend college.”
“Two days ago you signed a contract, whether you knew it or not,” said Dean Eugen Baer to Hobart students, referencing the tradition of every first-year signing each College’s matriculation book during the first day of Orientaiton. “It is an implicit academic contract. The fine print is invisible but should be engraved in your heart. You are entering today into a partnership with Hobart. On our side, our faculty and staff are committed to offer you one of the best undergraduate educations you can receive nationwide. Each course, each semester abroad, each opportunity to serve, each internship, each new language you can learn, each new science and culture you choose to study will expose you to untold new worlds of experience. I charge you today to immerse yourselves in them with your whole heart.”
Addressing William Smith students in Bristol gym, William Smith Dean Cerri Banks asked the first-year women, “What is your life the answer to?”
“What this question does is help us live our lives in a deliberate way,” Banks said. “It provides an underpinning and ethos to why you choose certain classes, majors, and minors, how you study, who your friends are, why you dance, paint or play sports, why you write for the school newspaper, travel abroad, or create beautiful music. This question can help with the work of discovering your passions and creating and sharing your visions.”
Following the deans’ welcomes, the new Hobart men and William Smith women were greeted with speeches from the presidents of their respective Alumni and Alumnae Associations, Dr. Robert H. Gilman ’70 and Katherine R. MacKinnon ’77.
In the Vandervort Room in the Scandling Campus Center, Gilman reminded the Hobart first-years that they “are embarking on a four-year journey of education and growth, as innumerable students have at these Colleges over generations. In doing so you are becoming an eternal part of this place, and this place is becoming an eternal part of you. We are a family here at these Colleges. We come here, born into this place as it were; we grow up, go out on our own and often return for family reunions or engage to help fellow HWS family members in any way we can. After all, isn’t that what family is all about?”
“Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we women are in the world making a contribution, being of service and making a difference,” MacKinnon said to the William Smith first-years. “Over the next four years and beyond, I have no doubt that you will discover and develop your own distinct expression of being a remarkable William Smith woman. In the spirit of William Smith, our founder, and being a William Smith woman, I invite you to take on new challenges, push the envelope, step out of your comfort zone, see everything as a learning experience, including ‘mistakes,’ and an opportunity to explore, stretch, overcome and excel. You are part of a very special group of women.”
Becky Perkins ’11, president of William Smith Congress, also addressed the William Smith first-years while Ross Hicks ’11, president of the Hobart Student Government, and Chris Bramwell ’11, Orientation Coordinator, spoke to Hobart students.
A linguist and philosopher in addition to his duties as dean, Baer set the tone for the Hobart Matriculation ceremony early in his speech: “The Latin word ‘matriculation’ means-ironically-coming back to Mom. You may say: ‘We just said goodbye to Mom the day before yesterday.’ True, but today you get a new one, on an entirely different level-your Alma Mater. Your biological birth is behind you, but your intellectual and spiritual birth is just beginning.”