In the early 1800s, with the city of Geneva fast becoming the commercial center of the growing Finger Lakes region, the city’s 1,700 inhabitants began to see the growing need for an educational center beyond what the academy for children could offer. In April of 1822, with Geneva Hall already built in anticipation, Geneva College received a provisional charter from the State Regents of New York; Hobart College was born.
Now, 189 years later, the tradition of celebrating this momentous day continues on Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9, with the Benjamin Hale Dinner and Charter Day. Deeply rooted in this history, Charter Day brings together students and alumni of Hobart to honor the best of the College’s achievements through awards for academic achievement, community service and leadership, as well as inductions into the College’s Chimera, Druid and Orange Key honor societies.
“I am very excited. This day celebrates the very founding of Hobart College,” says Hobart Dean Eugen Baer. “Hobart has existed for 189 years – what Charter Day does is honor that longevity. It calls attention to the fact that we are proud of Hobart, and it is the one day that we really celebrate this feat, that we have existed for so long.”
This year, the annual Benjamin Hale Dinner, named for a former president of Hobart College, will take place on Friday, April 8, at 6:15 p.m. in the Vandervort Room. The dinner will feature alumni speaker Dan De Nose ’10, who currently mentors young men in Newark, N.J., as the project coordinator for Brick City SERVES, and John H. Peck III, a current Hobart senior who is majoring in political science.
Celebrations will continue the next day, April 9, as Charter Day begins at 10:45 a.m. in St. John’s Chapel. This year’s distinguished alumni speaker will be Major Hunter Ripley Rawlings IV ‘94, of the U. S. Marine Corps, who currently serves as an Infantry & Light Armored Reconnaissance Officer. Current senior Brian Burbank ’11, a sociology and Africana studies major, will also address his fellow Statesmen at Charter Day.
During his time at the Colleges, De Nose excelled in a wide variety of arenas, serving as the Hobart Student Trustee, a Bonner Leader and the Student Representative for Convocation in 2009. As a distinguished leader on campus, De Nose created an individual major, Rhetoric of Leadership, in conjunction with his major. He also co-founded the organization, Leaders of Tomorrow, which still thrives on the HWS campus.
Upon graduating, De Nose began work as an aide to the Mayor of Newark. In his current position as a project coordinator for Brick City SERVES, he works for the organization that mentors and helps to motivate young men.
Peck is a political science major with a minor in international relations. From New Haven, Conn., Peck is currently the president of the Hobart senior class and a brother at Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Rawlings, a 1994 graduate of Hobart College, joined the Marine Corps in 1997. After completing Officer Candidate School he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He now serves as an infantry and light armored reconnaissance officer. To date, Rawlings has been deployed nine times on various assignments; seven of these deployments have been to hostile environments and areas of imminent danger. Among the honors he has received are the Bronze Star, The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the third-highest award bestowed upon members of the United States military by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Burbank, of Washington, D.C., is a Druid and a guard for the Statesmen basketball team, as well as an America Reads tutor, a senior intern in Admissions, a CTL study mentor, and the co-president of Sankofa.
For more information about the Benjamin Hale Dinner or Charter Day please contact the Hobart Dean’s Office,  781 – 3300.
The photos above feature De Nose and Rawlings.