Following their first day at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the Classes of 2018 gathered with families and friends on Stern Hall Lawn where they were officially welcomed to campus at the traditional President’s Welcome Ceremony.
“Under the mentorship of faculty and guided by an interdisciplinary curriculum grounded in exploration and rigor, the next four years will give you the confidence and experience necessary to investigate new ideas of the 21st century, cultures and points of view,” President Mark D. Gearan told the Classes. “You will be challenged intellectually by both your professors and your peers. We have confidence that this new beginning in your lives promises to be one of excitement, exploration, friendship and engagement in our classrooms, laboratories, performance spaces, studios and athletic venues.”
During the ceremony, which included remarks from HWS leadership, as well as the Orientation Coordinators Paul Ciaccia ’15 and Dana Williams ’16, Gearan also shared advice from recent alums, who assured the first-year students that the next four years will be a time to learn, take risks and form the bonds that will connect them to the HWS community for the rest of their lives.
“Our confidence in you is well-deserved,” Gearan said before introducing the Chair of the Board of Trustees Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09. “You are an outstanding group of students who arrive from many states and from nations around the globe.”
The Classes of 2018 – 653 in all, representing students from across the country and around the world – are an impressive group. They have taken part in community service activities and started non-profit organizations, Gearan said. In addition, there were 19 class presidents and more than 180 are varsity sports captains, business owners, firefighters, activists, public servants and scholars. More than 100 come from legacy families.
Zupan offered a welcome on behalf of the HWS Board of Trustees, highlighting that the students had arrived at a special place.
“You are entering a real community here, one that will push you intellectually and that will give you the tools you need to succeed in the 21st century,” she said.
Following Zupan’s remarks, Dr. Richard L. Wasserman ’70, member of the Board of Trustees and Hobart Alumni Council, welcomed the Classes of 2018 on behalf of the Board and the Alumni and Alumnae Associations. “This is an environment designed to help you succeed,” Wasserman said. “Take advantage of that. Explore new things, try new areas of endeavor, don’t be afraid to fail. We’ll be there for you.”
The HWS Deans also extended their welcome to the Classes of 2018.
Hobart Dean Eugen Baer HON ’07, P’95, P ’97 reminded students that HWS is a place of learning. He also reiterated the longstanding and historical significance of reading and its connection the liberal arts.
“I want to welcome you with this advice,” Baer said. “Please keep in mind that with all the technological changes, one thing has not changed: If you want to truly free yourself from old habits, if you want to free yourself from narcissism, ethnocentrism and prejudice, if you want to be truly free to care for the environment and the community and have a life of consequence, please READ – and the rest will follow.”
Newly appointed Dean of William Smith and Professor of French and Francophone Studies Catherine Gallouët addressed the mixed emotions of both the students and the parents sitting before her, and urged the Classes of 2018 to “give it your all,” as they enter into the HWS community.
“Every year, people like me see students like you arrive on our beautiful campus with the same sense of anticipation, the same mixed emotions,” Gallouët said. “Four years later on graduation day, we watch the same students walk down the Quad with assurance and purpose, knowing who they are, ready to lead lives of consequences.”
After a summer full of communication about Orientation 2014 via weekly Facebook posts, emails and videos, Ciaccia and Williams were able to give the first-year students a warm welcome “home” as they prepare to kick-off a weekend of activities and events.
“We can only hope that this year’s orientation will help you make the meaningful connections that establish that sense of place that over 2,000 students feel as they walk across our gorgeous campus every day,” said Williams.
“The HWS community has provided both of us with support and unbelievable academic, social, and leadership opportunities to the point where we both feel as though we can lead our own lives of consequence when the time comes to leave a place that is so ingrained in our lives,” Ciaccia said.
Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Titi Ufomata spoke of the transition from high school to college, urging students to take advantage of their newfound independence and free time to focus on their studies.
“With freedom comes responsibility,” she said. “You need to prove to everybody that you are that grown person you think you now are.”
As the ceremony drew to a conclusion, Gearan reminded students one last time that HWS is a “special place” where they will learn to lead lives of consequence like the many alumnae before them. “We are very proud of our history and very excited for our future,” Gearan said. “But to the Classes of 2018, you too will make it an even better place.”