April 27, 2020

Dear Parents and Family Members of Admitted Students,

In the age of COVID-19, it’s hard to think about sending your child to college, whether that college is around the corner or around the world. I write today to tell you about Hobart and William Smith, both from my perspective as the president of this outstanding institution and as a parent myself, and to let you know what we are doing to plan for the future.

I joined the Hobart and William Smith community a year ago, inspired by the promise of its bright future and by the values that it has held dear for nearly two centuries. This is a place that respects each individual student as a complex human being full of unique dreams and aspirations. The Hobart and William Smith curriculum is designed to draw out those dreams and aspirations – to make them evident and tangible, and then to match your student to faculty members who are experts in those fields and who, perhaps more importantly, are profoundly gifted mentors. We then work with each student to expand their thinking, to engage them in global, interdisciplinary thinking and experiential learning, to teach them to adapt to and even create change, and to help them achieve their career goals.

We chose your child for admittance to Hobart and William Smith from a competitive cohort of applicants because we see something in them that we believe will thrive here – a potential that we know we can help them realize.

At Hobart and William Smith, we say that we prepare students to lead lives of consequence. That to me is the absolute definition of what higher education, done correctly, can achieve. A life of consequence, in my opinion, is a life of fulfillment. As a parent, there can be no greater desire than to see our children happy and thriving as engaged members of their communities, with the skills necessary to evolve to meet the challenges they will inevitably face in life.

Here on campus, we have been adapting to the complications this pandemic has created, and moved to a remote learning model in mid-March. Although I have been impressed with the ingenuity and flexibility of our faculty and the resourcefulness of our students to embrace new modes of learning and collaboration, there is no substitute for the long-term benefits of in-person instruction. We therefore have every intention of opening in the fall and welcoming you and your child to campus for Orientation. That intention, however, does not mean we are putting our collective head in the sand. Instead, we have a number of task forces working now on contingency planning, taking into account a myriad of scenarios we may face. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to consult with health care experts and authorities, and will announce any changes to our plans when we have reached the right balance between gaining more information and certainty through waiting, and your need to know for planning purposes.

My hope is that you and your loved ones stay safe and well during these challenging times. We will come out of the other side of this ordeal stronger for what we have learned about dealing with challenges, both personal and societal. As always, do not hesitate to contact me on any matter. I respond to all messages personally and can be reached at


Joyce P. Jacobsen

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Page
COVID-19 Safety Training Employee Daily Wellness Assessment Application for CARES Act Funding July HEERF Student Aid Report HEERF Student Aid Report Stories about the Pandemic

Messages to the Community

Update on Fall Reopening by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - June 24, 2020

HWS Return to Campus Update for Employees Sonya Williams - June 11, 2020

Fall 2020 Study Abroad by Mary Coffey and Thomas D’Agostino - June 5, 2020

Planning Underway for our Fall Opening by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - May 28, 2020

Forward, Together by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - May 12, 2020

Using the CARES Act to Stay on Track for Graduation by John Young - May 12, 2020

Updates from Campus by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - April 27, 2020

An Update to Parents and Family Members of Admitted Students by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - April 27, 2020

Greetings from Human Resources by Sonya Williams - April 15, 2020

Grading for Spring 2020 Semester by Mary Coffey - March 30, 2020

Timeliness and Timelessness of an HWS Education by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 27, 2020

Introducing the HWS Student Emergency Fund by Julie Bazan ’93 and Rick Solomon ’75, P’10 - March 24, 2020

Staff Telework Resources by Sonya Williams - March 24, 2020

Message Regarding Commencement by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 20, 2020

Postponed: HWS Reunion by Bob O’Connor P’22 - March 19, 2020

Updates Regarding On-Campus Housing by Robb Flowers - March 19, 2020

Updates Regarding On-Campus Housing and Services by Robb Flowers - March 17, 2020

A Massive Natural Experiment by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 16, 2020

With Gratitude by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Face-to-Face Instruction Canceled by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 13, 2020

Follow-Up Note on Colleges’ Response to Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 11, 2020

From the Dean of Spiritual Engagement by The Reverend Nita C. Johnson Byrd - March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Information and Contingency Planning by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 10, 2020

An Update on the Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 5, 2020

Information on the Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - February 28, 2020


General questions and comments should be directed to:

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Questions regarding health issues should be directed to:

Hubbs Health Center
119 St. Clair Street
Geneva, NY 14456
Phone: 315-781-3600
Appt. Phone: 315-781-4530
Fax: 315-781-3802