“It is great to be here. The campus is gorgeous as always!” said Stuart Baird P’14, of Lake Placid, N.Y., during Homecoming and Family Weekend. “It was a beautiful day for a drive and it is great to get to see (my son) Andrew.”
With guests such as Baird traveling from as close as Northern New York and others coming from as far away as Los Angeles, Homecoming and Family Weekend 2012 saw the campus swell to more than 3,000 people. This year, homecoming activities included several athletic games, the Fall Nationals soap box derby race, a Barnburner lunch and tailgate, a research symposium and mini-college sessions.
As guests arrived, they were greeted to a show of HWS pride by the theme and fraternity houses lining South Main Street. Students decked out their residences in green, purple, orange and white to set the theme for a weekend of school spirit and revelry.
“Homecoming and Family Weekend is a great way to show off the Colleges,” said Sean Peer ’13. And the decorations were just a small part of what HWS had to show off.
In order to give alums and their families a chance to see the vibrant life on campus firsthand, open houses were held by various offices across campus including the Office of Intercultural Affairs, Abbe Center for Jewish Life, Centennial Center for Leadership, Finger Lakes Institute, and more.
On Saturday morning, visitors gathered to hear President Mark D. Gearan share advances made by the Colleges in the past year, as well as initiatives for the future during his annual “State of the Colleges Address.” Three areas where the Colleges will continue to build momentum include the areas of sustainability, inclusive excellence and the Geneva Partnership.
Also on Saturday, it was time to delve back into academics as mini-college sessions were held on topics ranging from Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman’s discussion of the upcoming presidential election, to Associate Professor of Geoscience Nan Arens’ “What’s New on Mars” talk about the Curiosity Rover. The classes give parents a glimpse into the daily academic lives of their children and remind alums how stimulating an HWS classroom can be.
“I loved the class that I attended with Professor Lester Friedman. It made me want to go back and be a media and society major,” said Jane Jones P ’15, of Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday.
James Ware P’16, of Harvard, Mass., also enjoyed a mini-college class over the weekend. “My wife and I attended the Weather Disasters of 2011-2012 class and it really was very interesting. It is fun to go back and be in class again.”
Outside the classroom, Homecoming and Family Weekend provided another opportunity for guests to do some critical thinking as they attended a thought-provoking reflection on Romney’s White House bid. Newsweek contributing editor, regular panelist on “The McLaughlin Group,” and author Eleanor Clift delivered a talk to the families and alums in attendance at the President’s Forum lecture in Albright Auditorium. Clift, who has written about politics and policy in Washington since the Carter administration, begged the question, “Can the GOP take back the White House?”
“In the remaining weeks, this race is significant enough that there is still room for Romney to make a comeback,” Clift told the crowd. “Either way, both parties are on tenterhooks.”
Parents, families and alums then gathered on Winn-Seeley Hill on Saturday afternoon to watch the favorite HWS tradition, Fall Nationals. The annual soapbox derby race coincides with the Barnburner Tailgate, a giant party for the soccer and football games. This year’s final race between Colby Mauke ’13 and Sigma Phi brother Samuel Bowen ’15 was so close that the judges struggled to come to a conclusion. Ultimately, team “Young Savage,” driven by Bowen, claimed the 2012 title.
Following the Barnburner Tailgate, three HWS athletic teams garnered wins Saturday on the home turf. In football, junior running back Steve Webb rushed for a career-high 150 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Statesmen to a 42-21 Liberty League win over the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Among those in the stands for the game was Jon McGriff P’15, whose son Matt is on the team. Jon drives from South Orange, N.J., for every home game.
“I love to lead cheers because I think it really helps the boys,” he said. “Last year there were a bunch of parents who did it but their sons graduated so I am just trying to keep the tradition going.”
As the Colleges continued to celebrate the anniversary of Title IX with events during the weekend, the Herons gave attendees even more to celebrate with a 2-1 field hockey win over previously undefeated Rochester on McCooey Field on Saturday. Heavy defensive pressure couldn’t stop senior Annie Kietzman from becoming the 12th player in William Smith field hockey history to notch 100 career points during the game.
“I was here before Title IX, which was of course 40 years ago, so I am almost the opposite of a model, I am more of a model for what it helped us achieve so much as what it was like before,” said Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09, chair of the Colleges Board of Trustees, reflecting on the anniversary and its impact on William Smith students.
Also at home Saturday, four different Hobart College soccer players scored to give the Statesmen to a 4-1 victory over visiting Clarkson in the Liberty League opener for both teams played on Cozzens Field.
Homecoming and Family Weekend 2012 also marked the first year of Quad-a-palooza, an evening extravaganza on the Quad on Saturday that included music, food and family fun, including a barbecue and a “CABaret” talent show hosted by the Campus Activities Board.
When Sunday arrived and families and alums all headed back home, Deborah Oddi Sindoni P’16 turned to Facebook to express a sentiment shared by many: “We had a wonderful time! Kudos to all those involved…great job! Can’t wait to attend next year!”
“Homecoming truly highlights the vibrancy of the HWS community – and this year’s celebration was the best yet,” said Director of Parent Relations and Stewardship Kelly Young. “We are very pleased that it was a memorable weekend for students, alums and families.”