William Smith alumna honors parents
In the early 1940s, Paul and Grace Vandervort recognized the importance of a strong liberal arts education, and provided their daughter, Janet, with a rare opportunity to attend William Smith College. Nearly 70 years later, Janet Vandervort Cable ’45 repaid their kindness by making a gift that honors both her parents and her alma mater when she endowed an on-campus, multi-purpose room in the name of her generous and loving parents.
“They worked hard, and they deserve their name in print,” says Cable. “They were so happy, and I have such lovely memories of them.” On Monday, June 9, Colleges community members gathered during a ceremony to honor Cable and her parents and dedicate the well-appointed Vandervort Room, which will open to the general public in fall 2008.
Designed by alumna Pamela Lucas Rew ’81 of KSS Architects and made a reality by the generous spirit of Cable, the banquet room will become the nucleus of activity on campus, hosting events from admissions open houses and community celebrations to luncheons, receptions and musical performances. It will also serve as a space for HWS students to connect with the community when hosting area groups such as Boys and Girls Club, Geneva Arts Council, Geneva African American Men’s Association, the regional spelling bee and many more.
“When the Scandling Campus Center was built, it truly transformed the culture at HWS,” says Dean Debra DeMeis, who coordinated the effort to install a community center on campus. “With this renovation, history will repeat itself, and we will once again be transformed as a community.”
Accommodating up to 375 guests, the Vandervort Room is part of an overall plan to coordinate campus neighborhoods in a central location, improve the quality of faculty and student interactions on campus and heighten the Colleges’ visibility within the community.
During the dedication ceremony, Genevan Frank Pullano thanked Cable for her generous gift, noting that the Vandervort Room will greatly enhance the Geneva Partnership. “This new space will play host to an even stronger relationship between HWS and the Geneva communities,” he said.
The new room will also aid Colleges staff members, who appreciate that the facility was designed to handle the large-scale events that frequently occur on campus. “This new room is going to make our lives so much easier, and it will be much appreciated by our staff,” said Paul Zaroogian, general manager of HWS Dining Services, referring to new dish and storage rooms off the Vandervort Room, which will house table- and dinnerware throughout the year for use in the function hall.
“It’s going to be like a dream come true,” said Pat Heieck, the Colleges’ catering manager. Following the dedication, Cable, who was joined by husband John Cable, reminisced fondly about her dining experiences in Comstock and happily imagined what the multi-purpose room will be like for current and future students.
“I hope they attend events in the Vandervort Room, and I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my time at William Smith,” said Cable. “This is a well-designed facility that will change the day-to-day experiences of everyone who uses it,” said Colleges President Mark D. Gearan, thanking Cable for her generous donation.
“For generations, students will come to this room and reflect on the graduate who made it possible.” Vice President for Institutional Advancement Bob O’Connor also thanked Cable, reading a heartfelt letter of appreciation from Cable’s classmate Grady Jensen ’44 before leading guests in a toast to the Cables for their charitable contribution to the Scandling Campus Center project.
When completed, the Scandling Campus Center will provide much needed space for student activities and study needs, campus dining, meetings and other gatherings. It will also house the Student Activities Center, Saga Dining Hall, the Faculty Dining Room, Marketplace (a new café), a newly renovated kitchen, the Post Office, a recreation and game room and indoor and outdoor seating and meeting areas. “We can see and celebrate how this room embodies a dream and a vision for the future,” said Chaplain Lesley Adams. “This will be our family center.”