Some people leave without a trace. Others leave an entire legacy when they move on. William Smith Dean Debra DeMeis is, without a doubt, the latter sort. After 31 years on campus, DeMeis has left her mark as a professor of psychology, William Smith dean, interim vice president of student affairs. She has chaired or co-chaired several significant committees, implemented leadership initiatives for women and, as interim vice president of student affairs last year, oversaw the Hobart and William Smith athletic departments. “Debra DeMeis has helped shape the identities of thousands of William Smith women and of William Smith College itself as dean,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “Her compassion and genuine interest in the lives of our students have made her an exceptional mentor, colleague, professor and dean.” Her impact on students has also led to the creation of The Dean Debra DeMeis Legacy Award. The new annual award “honoring our students in leadership and service” will recognize a student organization that exhibits the exceptional leadership and service to HWS and the surrounding community that DeMeis embodied during her time at the Colleges. This year the first Dean Debra DeMeis Legacy Award was given to Colleges Against Cancer. The group increased awareness about cancer prevention and initiated programs related to the American Cancer Society. Colleges Against Cancer also raised $45,000 for the American Cancer Society through this year’s Relay for Life event. The establishment of the Legacy Award is only one of several tributes that have been paid to DeMeis in recent weeks. She has been honored and recognized by the Intercultural Affairs Office and The Heron Society and at Moving Up Day, as well as the William Smith Department of Athletics 2007-2008 annual Heron Awards Banquet. At the banquet she was presented with the Heron Award in recognition of her commitment to William Smith College and the Heron athletics program. “Dean DeMeis has been an incredible leader behind the scenes and a visible and supportive fan,” said Maddie Brooks ’08, a squash player. “She is a role model for all Heron student-athletes.” “She has helped us find our voices as young women on this campus,” Student Trustee Shavonne Ward ’09 said. “She embodies courage, humility and largeness of heart. She is our role model.” A mentor to Hobart and William Smith students and athletes alike, DeMeis leaves our campus with more than memories; she will leave us with a legacy. In June, DeMeis will step down as dean, going on to serve Wellesley College as Dean of Students.
Dean Debra DeMeis was presented with the Heron Award by William Smith Athletics Director Deb Steward. The award honors her commitment to William Smith College and the Heron athletics program.