Hobart and William Smith Colleges will recognize six individuals with honorary degrees at this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 13. Selected for the various ways they demonstrate engaged citizenship – in service to Geneva, the Colleges and the nation – Doctor of Humane Letters degrees will be conferred upon:
Rosa Blue P’72, P’77, P’84, P’84, a local civil rights leader whose efforts have benefited Geneva for 60 years. A mother of seven, four of whom attended the Colleges, Blue has served on community boards and action groups to improve low-income housing and increase available daycare, and informally taught women how to get a mortgage and how to get their children into college. During the turbulent 60s, she led trips to march in demonstrations in Washington D.C., and worked to create equality in Geneva.
Born in Madison, Fla., she and her husband moved to Geneva in 1949. She was the first female president of the Geneva NAACP and served as executive secretary of the Geneva Human Rights Commission for more than 30 years. In 1974, she helped organize the first march in Geneva dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., 12 years before the national holiday was first observed. Through the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, she helped establish a scholarship fund for local, black students, which continues to this day. To date, more than 200 local students have been sent to college through these efforts. She remains an advocate for the recruitment of black civil servants in law enforcement and open communication and outreach to the black community.
She has received the Loftus C. Carson Human Rights Award given by the New York State Division of Human Rights; the Heritage Award given by The Martin Luther King Committee; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Geneva Area Branch of the NAACP; the Community Service Award from Geneva’s NAACP; and the Springstead Award from the Geneva Rotary Club. In 2007, the students of Hobart and William Smith presented her with the Award of Excellence for her outstanding commitment to the Geneva community.
Cynthia L. Caird, whose careers in the airline industry and with the United Service Organizations (USO) nurtured in her the belief that higher education must teach students to be 21st century citizens with an important understanding of multiple peoples and cultures. Through a nearly 20-year career with the airline industry and as a fundraiser and special events planner for the USO, Caird traveled extensively and was instrumental in lifting the morale of United States troops around the world.
With her husband, James, Cynthia Caird has been devoted to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, connecting alums with friends and hosting events and campaign receptions in her home. She has also made Hobart and William Smith a focus of her philanthropy.
In addition to the support of capital projects, Cynthia Caird has funded student scholarships, including the James ’56 and Cynthia L. Caird Endowed Scholarship Fund to support students from Albany, N.Y., with preference given to graduates of James Caird’s secondary school, Albany Academy. A dedicated volunteer in her California and Florida communities, she is regularly recognized for her charitable work and her promotion of the arts and theatre.
James F. Caird ’56, founder of the world’s largest privately owned personal lines insurance agency, Auto Insurance Specialists. Described by his professional colleagues as a “trailblazer” and a “maverick,” Caird is credited with pioneering innovative and specialized marketing techniques that changed the way all businesses identify, cultivate and steward clients.
Born in Troy, N.Y., Caird graduated from Albany Academy. He earned his B.A. in American History from Hobart College, where he was a brother in the Kappa Sigma fraternity and a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He went on Columbia University business school and was a serviceman in the United States Army.
With his wife, Cynthia, James Caird has made HWS a philanthropic priority, significantly boosting the Colleges’ efforts to attract and retain the very best students, faculty and staff. In 2007, the Colleges named Caird Hall, a state-of-the-art residence hall, in honor of James and Cynthia Caird. In 2009, their lead gift made it possible to create the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation. The new complex unites several keystone elements of the Colleges’ athletic facilities and provides broad-reaching support that directly benefits all students.
Trustee Langdon Cook P’99, P’05, a graduate of Princeton University and the founder of Langdon P. Cook Government Securities Inc. As a parent of two HWS alums, he has served the Colleges for the past 17 years, first as a member of the Campaign Steering Committee in 1996. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the past 10 years, where he serves on the financial affairs, institutional advancement, capital resources and communications committees and is the chair of the governance committee.
Cook and his wife Lyn also are active members of the Parents Executive Committee, and have hosted events for the advancement of Hobart and William Smith. The Cooks recently presented HWS with one of the largest donations the Colleges have ever received from non-alum parents. The Cook Family Endowment has been created to help the Colleges inspire members of the Hobart and William Smith community to give back in even greater ways. The Cook Circle is being established by the Colleges in honor of the Cook family to encourage and inspire other families to provide support to HWS.
Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s TODAY show and TODAY’s chief legal analyst. She has twice hosted NBC’s “Meet the Press,” most recently interviewing then-GOP presidential hopeful and former Senator Rick Santorum. Guthrie, has been with TODAY for two years. Previously, Guthrie served as NBC News White House Correspondent for three years, offering candid commentary for NBC on “Meet the Press,” the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” and MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” where she also served as co-host. As part of the team that covered Sarah Palin’s campaign during the 2008 presidential election, she received an Emmy for her election night coverage.
Guthrie holds a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Arizona, and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude. After working as a journalist in Arizona and Missouri, Guthrie became the national trial and legal correspondent for Court TV. At Court TV, Guthrie cast a critical eye on many of the nation’s most important court hearings, providing the country with a comprehensive and critical analysis of major rulings and cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. Among the many high-profile cases Guthrie reported on were the Zacarias Moussaoui trial, the Lewis “Scooter” Libby case and the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings.
Guthrie will provide the address to the campus community during Commencement 2012.
Patrick A. McGuire HON’10, professor of economics, interim provost and dean of faculty, who is a longtime faculty member, respected scholar, innovative teacher and dedicated community member. He has held leadership roles on several faculty committees and served as chair of the department of economics.
McGuire was educated at St. Peter’s College before receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University. At HWS, McGuire co-founded the Colleges’ Public Policy program in Washington, D.C., which he has led as faculty director 10 times over the past 25 years. He co-taught the “Two Cities” bi-disciplinary course for more than 20 years, taking HWS students to both New York City and Toronto for five days each as part of their regular coursework. McGuire has led several off-campus programs in Ireland, England and Central Europe as well as a Semester at Sea. He is a regular participant in the annual Wall Street Experience Program which allows students to spend two days with alums and employers from global investment banks, ratings agencies and hedge funds all over Manhattan. In collaboration with his students, McGuire recently completed an economic impact report that tracks the Colleges’ effect on the Geneva community.