A Jam-Packed Family Weekend 2009 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Jam-Packed Family Weekend 2009

With a multitude of parents and family members arriving in Geneva, HWS rolled out a red carpet of academic, athletic and artistic events for the annual Family Weekend.

Tours and open houses ran all weekend at touchstone locations around campus, such as the Finger Lakes Institute, the Salisbury Center for Career Services, the Center for Global Education, the Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center, the new Scandling Campus Center and the Warren Hunting Smith Library’s new Learning Commons.

During the day, parents and families were further invited into the academic sphere at HWS with presentations and activities like the display of student work from the 2009 Summer Science Research Program, just finishing its 21st year of placing scores of students from a variety of majors in various research positions both on and off campus.  Students showed off the intensive projects they completed, sharing their work with classmates, professors, and visiting parents.

“Every human being thinks about the universe, and this is one way of visualizing it,” explained Associate Professor of Physics Steven Penn, pointing to the work of Jing Luo ’12, whose summer research focused on gravity waves and black holes.  Through work such as Luo’s, which measured the rate at which star systems lose energy, we can, as Penn said, “get a sense of this universe we inhabit.”

“It’s fulfilling to see these students engage in such diverse research,” Laboratory Coordinator William Zuk agreed.

Family Weekend

Proud parents Paul and Julie Langenbacher P’12 applauded the research opportunities for their daughter, Rachel, who studied carbon bonds in indium this summer and presented her research with Professor of Chemistry Walter Bowyer in Kentucky last weekend, and will present again in Florida this spring.

“It’s amazing that someone can partake in this kind of research at the undergraduate level,” said Peter Vairo P’12, P’13, admiring his daughter Logan’s work with Assistant Professor of Biology Meghan Brown.

Parents themselves were able to engage with the rich academics at HWS through mini college classes taught on Saturday morning-covering topics from the Economics of Baseball and film editing to the genesis of Western ideas about love.

The evenings were marked by special events in arts and athletics.  Artist Emily Kenas’s “Works on Paper” exhibit opened to rave reviews, as did the Bartlett Theatre’s fall production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice,” Ballet Jörgen’s production of “Anastasia” at the Smith Opera House and, of course, Saturday night’s annual HWS Cabaret, which featured a showcase of student talent.

On Friday night, an enthusiastic crowd of parents, students, families, faculty and staff attended an exhibition lacrosse match between Hobart and the Iroquois National Team-the kickoff event of Hobart and William Smith’s Native American Conference, “Lacrosse: The Creator’s Game.”

Family Weekend

The fast-paced game favored Hobart in the first quarter, as the team outscored their guests 6-1. The Statesmen used several different line-up configurations, mixing and matching personnel on attack, in the midfield, and on defense, and rotated three different goalies. However, the Iroquois team’s solid defense and agile offense led them to a 20-12 win over Hobart.

Dr. Peter Jemison, a representative from the Seneca Nation of Indians, opened the game with a traditional peace blessing.  Spirit Dancers from the Ganondagan Historical Site performed at halftime, sharing with the audience a number of the Iroquois’ social and spiritual dances.

Saturday and Sunday brought more sporting events, with Statesmen victories in football, soccer and hockey and a Heron win in soccer against Union.

Perhaps the crowning event of the weekend happened during the annual Presidential Report to Parents. After sharing the many achievements at the Colleges over the past year-from Fulbright recipients like Oliver Meeker ’09 and Meghan O’Loughlin ’09 to the Colleges’ ranking of 17th overall among the nation’s liberal arts colleges-HWS President Mark D. Gearan announced that HWS Trustee Stuart Piltch ’82, P’11 and his wife Sari Feldman P’11 have pledged an astounding $7.5 million to the Colleges in memory of Piltch’s parents, Maurice “Roy” and Charlotte “Mildred” Piltch. 

The gift will establish an endowment to support scholarships for students who otherwise would not be able to attend HWS, making it the largest gift to an endowed scholarship fund in the history of the Colleges.

“In making this gift, Stuart and Sari will change the lives of young men and women for generations to come,” Gearan said. “Their belief in education as a force for transformation and their commitment to Hobart and William Smith Colleges are truly inspiring.”

As Piltch spoke to parents and families in the packed Albright Auditorium, he said that his parents were “people beyond their time.”  And like the parents in Albright, “they knew what an education could do.”