Speaking to this year’s Convocation theme of global citizenship, President and CEO of Direct Relief International and Convocation 2009 Keynote Speaker Thomas Tighe gave students, faculty, staff and community members three criteria of a global citizen: “First of all, you have to care. Second, you have to think. Third, you have to act.”
Since October of 2000, Tighe has led Direct Relief International, a nonprofit humanitarian medical organization that is funded entirely with private support, providing medical material assistance to locally run health programs around the world and in the U.S. He is also a visiting professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara’s graduate program in Global and International Studies.
“It’s important to recognize that the human element is always present; it’s always the variable, it’s always the X-factor, and people are always ultimately responsible for the actions that occur on their watch,” said Tighe about the importance of social responsibility to global citizenship. “Being a good global citizen means that it’s up to each one of us to make judgments about the issues that matter, the type of world we want to live in and where we engage our time and efforts. The notion of being a good global citizen has to be figured out on a personal level by each one of us. Being here at Hobart and William Smith, you have the unique opportunity to show the rest of us what ‘good’ looks like.”
President Mark D. Gearan shared the sentiment noting that Hobart and William Smith have long been recognized for their global education programs and were recently listed as 18th in the nation by The Princeton Review.
“We begin this year with the charge to think carefully about this enormous opportunity before us-living in this stunning place, engaging with faculty members, staff and other students. How can all of us evidence our global citizenship? How can we make a difference on this campus, in this community of Geneva and for this world?”
After welcoming returning community members and the new Classes of 2013, Gearan outlined four key initiative areas for the year ahead, including working to deepen the commitment of Hobart and William Smith to the City of Geneva; fostering an inclusive community in which every student, faculty member and staff member feels valued and supported; continuing the development of a culture of environmental sustainability on campus; and engaging in a series of important conversations on the development of Hobart and William Smith’s strategic plan.
As part of HWS convocation tradition, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Teresa Amott then invited this year’s recipient of the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Carol Oberbrunner, to the podium to speak.
“The more connected we all are with each other, the better we will be at hearing the voices and the needs of the world’s people,” said Oberbrunner. “I am a wife, a mother, a philosopher, a teacher, a U.S. citizen. But I am also a member of the human family. My wish for all of us is that the humanitarian and global awareness fostered here and the precious connections which we make here will continue to energize us-both for the sake of our own community and for the sake of our fellow beings both nearby and far away. ”
Student Trustees Dan De Nose ’10 and Regina Triplett ’10 also reflected on HWS and the intersections of global education and service.
De Nose noted that global citizenship is intertwined in the Colleges’ mission statement. “How will you become a leader in the 21st century?” he asked. “How will you become a global citizen? Take heed and take advantage of our Colleges and our community. Geneva needs you and the world needs you. Find out what lies within your house-within your heart-and become global citizens.”
In her speech, Triplett shared a quote from author and activist Marianne Williamson: “‘We are all meant to shine… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
“So,” Triplett concluded, “whether you are a student, a professor, a staff member, a member of the Geneva community, or the president of a nonprofit global humanitarian organization, you are powerful beyond measure and your light can and does shine across the globe.”
Indeed, as Gearan, pointed out, this global shining does not go unrecognized. Washington Monthly magazine recently ranked Hobart and William Smith 12th in the nation of allocation of Federal Work Study dollars spent on service in our community.
“You may go on to public service, or to the private sector or to the non-profit sector, but all of us have the chance to engage with one another to fashion a life committed to ideals and values,” Gearan said. “I open the academic year and these Exercises of Convocation in the spirit of global citizenship and for the difference each and every one of us can make in the year ahead.”