The Classes of 2015 and their families were officially welcomed into the Hobart and William Smith community by HWS faculty, staff, alums and students as well as the Geneva community during the President’s Welcome Ceremony on Stern Lawn.
Kicking off the ceremony, Orientation staffers prepared their own special welcome, doing a surprise flashmob to the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feelin.”
“Well, I’ve got a feeling that this is going to be a good year at Hobart and William Smith,” said President Gearan as members of the Flash Mob returned to the audience. “Don’t ever let it be said the start of an academic year at Hobart and William Smith isn’t memorable.”
Orientation Coordinators Caroline Dosky ’12 and Brian Horn ’12 added their welcome, explaining that the next few days of Orientation were intended to give students an opportunity to form connections and learn about the HWS community.
Extending his greeting on behalf of the faculty, Dean of Hobart College Eugen Baer P’95, P’97, HON ’07 reflected on the opportunities created through the liberal arts tradition. “At HWS, you can expect to be introduced to new ideas, cultures, fields of study and ways of learning. And your learning opportunities will not just take place inside classroom walls,” explained Baer.
Acting Dean of William Smith College Susanne McNally tasked students to make use of the faculty. “Our 11 to 1 faculty to student ratio and no graduate assistants means that you can get at us easily. Do that. Get at us. Use us well,” she encouraged.
Trustee Dr. Richard L. Wasserman ’70, a pediatric immunologist, added his comments on behalf of the Board of Trustees. Describing HWS as a place to try new things, he said, “When you look around this campus at spaces like Stern Hall behind us and the Rosensweig Learning Commons in the Library, you are seeing the support of our many generous alumni, alumnae and parents who believe passionately in the future of these colleges and, more importantly, in your future.”
Katie Flowers, the Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), told students that they are joining a community that shares their passion for service, with nearly 190,000 hours of service completed by faculty, staff and students in the past year alone. Following that theme, Geneva Superintendent Lawrence Wright reflected on the important work HWS students do in the Geneva community.
Finally, Gearan assured the parents that while they would soon be parting from their newly independent college first-years, they were not abandoning them but, instead, releasing them into a web of support that includes faculty, staff and coaches who will help to guide them toward lives of consequence.
Amidst the hugs and photos that followed the ceremony, there were some watery smiles as incoming students left their families to engage with new friends and challenges.