April 27, 2019
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
For more than a century, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have existed within a coordinate construct founded to educate women within the liberal arts tradition. Since then, the Colleges’ dedication to our coordinate nature has not wavered. The lived experience of coordinate, however, has evolved over the decades, changing to meet the shifting needs of new generations of students and the faculty who mentor them. I write today to share recent actions taken by the Board of Trustees regarding the Colleges’ coordinate structure.
As Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas S. Bozzuto L.H.D. ’18 wrote to you in the fall, at its October 2018 meeting, the Board unanimously passed a resolution affirming its commitment to “the coordinate heritage and mission of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.” The Board then tasked the Student Experience Committee of the Board with creating recommendations that would adapt the coordinate construct to “ensure that all students are welcomed and supported.” In particular, the Board sought to evolve the coordinate construct to be more inclusive, and to revise historic structures, policies and procedures so that the Colleges can better embrace multiple gender identities and a greater range of difference.
Since then, the Student Experience Committee has worked diligently on this project, seeking ideas and perspectives from the entire HWS community and obtaining the guidance of a national expert on inclusion and diversity. They hosted multiple listening sessions on campus with students, faculty and staff, and consulted with the leadership councils of the Alumni and Alumnae Associations. Through the Office of Advancement, the Committee surveyed the entire alum network, gathering data and suggestions from thousands of alums. From the many ideas proposed over the course of six months, the Student Experience Committee formulated a series of recommendations that were presented to the full Board at its April 2019 meeting. After thoughtful debate, the Board accepted and adopted as policy a set of actions that honors the Colleges’ rich history while also evolving the coordinate system to ensure its continued relevance for current and future generations.
The action items cover a broad range of topics that focus on making the Colleges more inclusive; enhancing facilities to create equity and accessibility; amplifying traditions to include all members of our community; and creating educational programming and professional development opportunities.
The Board has now tasked the senior staff to work in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, alumni and alumnae to implement the action items of the policy. We will begin this summer, creating workgroups and timelines, and communicating our progress.
As someone who has witnessed the evolution of the Colleges over many decades and as co-author of the Culture of Respect report, I am confident that these action items represent the Board’s unyielding commitment to inclusion and our heritage. Please join me in supporting this work in the weeks and months ahead.
Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12