Colleges Have Many Ties to New Center – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Colleges Have Many Ties to New Center

The new Geneva Community Center opened recently and the 24,000 square-foot space has something for just about everyone in the community. It also has a special meaning for a number of people connected to the Colleges, from President Gearan who serves on the center’s advisory council, to the lead donor for the construction of the center to recent alums who helped determine its feasibility and a faculty member who will make good use of it with a community theater group.

In 2008, the Senior Research Practicum in Sociology led by Professor of Sociology Jack Harris enabled students to conduct sociological research for organizations in Geneva.  Amanda Stern ’08, Jenny Quirindongo ’08 and Jennifer Lever ’08 worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva to determine what variety of uses the community would like to see available in the planned community center, so it would be a true community center. After meeting with a representative of the Boys and Girls Club, the group created a plan and conducted research. Their findings were presented to the Boys and Girls Club and were taken into consideration when the Center was being developed. Provost Teresa Amott also serves on its board of directors.

In addition to a state grant, the Boys and Girls Club received funding for the Center from Brenda and Dave Rickey, who donated $1.5 million through their foundation, the Brenda and Dave Rickey Foundation. Dave is the 2006 recipient of the Colleges’ prestigious President’s Medal, and Rickey’s father was a Hobart alum with a degree in chemistry who worked at the Agricultural Experiment Station. Through the foundation, the couple has provided funding for students to work at the Experiment Station as well as established the George F. Rickey Endowed Scholarship in his father’s name.

When the center opened last weekend, Pat Collins, professor of education at HWS, was there not as an observer, but as director of the Geneva Youth Theatre Guild and the drama program at Geneva High School. A room in the community center has been set up as the Black Box Theater, a room with entirely black floor, walls and ceiling. According to an article in the Finger Lakes Times (Amanda Folts, September 20) Collins explained, “that the black room allows for focused lighting. ‘It’s a real credit to a community like this to make this kind of commitment to performing arts,'” Collins is quoted.

In an earlier article in the Finger Lakes Times titled “Inaugural ‘Dream’ Theater,” (David Taube, September 15) Collins explains, “We had been in there four or five times to work, and they were really taken with it.” The article notes this is the first time the group will perform parts of the play, although most of the members have worked together previously.

“We did ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 2000 or 2001 and that was a different group of kids. After we did the whole play, for about a year afterwards people still wanted us to do these scenes,” Collins said. “So I thought it would be good to get a new group of kids.”

It goes on to quote an e-mail from Collins, “My emphasis in working with the kids has been on making this an educational experience for them. We think the scenes are very funny and that people of all ages – especially kids – will enjoy them.”

The Geneva Theatre Guild will perform “Mad About Theatre,” the first full show at the Community Center, Nov. 5 through 8.