On Sunday morning, Jan. 30, Comstock Dining Room was filled with the women of William Smith College who had gathered to enjoy brunch and remember the College’s founder. Sponsored by the William Smith Deans, what has been the Founder’s Day dinner was transformed into an elegant brunch featuring chafing dishes of steaming breakfast favorites and a large chocolate frosted cake in the center of each table. In attendance were President Mark D. Gearan, William Smith students, Deans, alumnae and many Trustees who chose to extend their stay on campus following Trustees’ weekend to be a part of this tradition.
Dean Cerri Banks provided a warm welcome, followed by a speech from the newly-appointed president of William Smith Congress, Kaylyn O’Brien ’12.
O’Brien emphasized it is important “that we, as current students, understand we have inherited the legacies of past William Smith women. It is our responsibility to indulge in the opportunity to build upon these legacies.”
The keynote address was offered by Trustee Gail Herman McGinn ’73, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Plans with the U.S. Department of Defense and president of McGinn Consulting, LLC. During her time at the Pentagon, she created countless programs focused on military family support, child development, family advocacy and domestic violence prevention, and casualty and mortuary affairs policies. She spoke of the importance of public service – and leadership in public service. Her message emphasized that you will gain a greater satisfaction within your own life when you serve your community. Though you won’t get rich in dollars, through participation in volunteering, you will gain a purpose, McGinn said.
She concluded, “Throw your hat in the ring, I know you will never regret it,” to which the audience replied with a standing ovation.
Following the keynote speech, Assistant Professor of Biology Susan Cushman ’98, president of the William Smith Alumni Association, spoke about the “William Smith” identity and what wonderfully sets it from Hobart College.
The morning concluded with Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig leading the William Smith Alma Mater.