This weekend, President Mark D. Gearan, along with alumni, alumnae, students, faculty and staff, gathered at the Scandling Campus Center for the dedication of the Seneca Society Donor Wall to recognize the inaugural members of the Seneca Society and, as Gearan said, “To create a lasting tribute to the important difference they have made.”
The Seneca Society was established in 2006 to honor those whose philanthropy has remarkably altered the course of Hobart and William Smith history. New Seneca Society members are inducted every two years. The wall, which embraces a new courtyard on the southwest side of the Scandling Campus Center, is engraved with the names of Seneca Society members, a permanent reminder of their generosity.
“Some of the names on this wall are familiar to all of us because they grace the spaces we use every day,” said Gearan. “These structures directly support our faculty and students as places of inspiration, research, creativity, community, contemplation and learning. Others honored on this wall chose to support our endowment through the establishment of professorships and scholarships, enhancing the work of our faculty and providing access to qualified and deserving students.”
Economics and international relations double-major Seher Syed ’10 reflected on the impact the generosity of the alumni, alumnae, families and friends of HWS has had on her, particularly that of Trustee Charles H. Salisbury ’63, P’94, L.H.D. ’08, the sponsor of the Salisbury International Internship Fund, which supported Syed’s internship at Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.
“Each of you is here this evening because you’ve made positive change by giving something back-to me, to my fellow students, to Hobart and William Smith. You’ve made my HWS education possible, and I am inspired by your generosity,” she said.
At Grameen, working with poverty-stricken families “renewed my feelings of responsibility,” Syed said. “Before my internship, I had a very narrow concept of business. I thought it was all about profit maximization. But I have since realized that businesses can-and should-make positive change in society.”
In his address, Chair of the Board of Trustees David Deming ’75 had a proposition for this year’s senior classes. “As part of my own work to inspire others to give, once again this year, I am issuing a challenge to the Classes of 2010,” Deming said, pledging to match, dollar-for-dollar, everything the senior classes can raise toward the Annual Fund if 50 percent of the classes participate.
But the monetary gifts, as Professor of Sociology Jack Harris reminded the crowd during his part in the dedication ceremony, are much more than that.
“The gifts from those we honor and thank today have been foundational to our success, molding our identity, taking us to the next level of institutional maturity, and institutional security,” said Harris. “They have affirmed, supported, and sustained what we do here – the education of young women and men for lives of consequence. These gifts have framed the future of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. They reveal confidence and optimism in our work and in our future. They regularly direct our focus, enrich our academic courses and programs, and engage us in activity that is public and reaches out to change our local and global lives.”