Early Saturday morning, Colleges President Mark D. Gearan offered his annual State of the Colleges address during breakfast in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. Welcoming more than 150 alumni and alumnae to campus, Gearan offered a look back over the past year and a look forward into the future of the Colleges.
Addressing recent changes, honors, triumphs and challenges, Gearan spoke about the Colleges’ academic programs and mission. “Our faculty members bring their experience as experts in their field into the classroom, deepening the educational perspective in a way that is so richly important,” he said. “Our students take advantage of their HWS education, and it prepares them to lead lives of consequence.”
Looking ahead to the incoming classes, Gearan revealed that more than 40 percent of the incoming classes applied Early Decision, making HWS their first and only choice. “I think this is extremely important,” he said. “And it speaks to the energy and commitment of these Classes.”
Turning to the Colleges’ finances, Gearan outlined the importance of a strong endowment as well as participation in the Annual Fund. “Participation in the Annual Fund continues to be an opportunity for growth,” he said, noting that 75 percent of the Classes of 2011 made a senior gift. “As our main stakeholders, I hope I can count on those of you here today to take this message back to your peers and motivate them to give back to the Colleges.”
Speaking about Campaign for the Colleges, Gearan reflected on the strategic way the HWS Board of Trustees has charted the course. “This is not an edifice complex; this was a purposeful look at our needs,” he said, referring to the many changes that have taken place across campus over the past 10 years. “We have marched across campus in a purposeful way, constructing and renovating spaces to create a modern, 21st century liberal arts campus.”
Focusing in on the Performing Arts Initiative, he said that the new construction will create a “town square effect,” with the Scandling Campus Center and the Warren Hunting Smith Library. “In our history, there has never been a space built specifically for the performing arts,” he said. “We are heartened by the energy and support alums have put behind this project.”
After opening the session up to questions from the audience, Gearan spoke about the relationship between the size of Geneva and our ability to attract students. “History has positioned many small liberal arts colleges in small towns,” says Gearan. “But there are so many benefits to being in a small town like Geneva, from the lake to the opportunities to enact positive change in a diverse and dedicated city.”
“We have an extraordinary opportunity to engage with the community and to be responsive to what the community needs,” he said, continuing on the theme of the Geneva Partnership. “We are tied intrinsically to the success of Geneva.”