College in Session for Alums and Parents – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

College in Session for Alums and Parents

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, parents, alums, and even the rare student were seen filing into classrooms all over campus to take advantage of a variety of mini-college sessions offered during Family and Homecoming Weekend. Not to be outdone, late risers were also able to get a brief glance at college life, heading to the afternoon session of mini-college session at 1:30 p.m.

From art to science, Homecoming and Family Weekend goers were offered a wide range of topics and classes to choose from, giving parents a chance to see what their kids’ lives were like while alums were given the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane to a time when they were HWS students.

Armed with a hot cup of coffee and questions, more than 30 parents and alums joined Associate Professor of Economics Judith McKinney as she corrected misconceptions about immigration economics. In a talk titled “They Take Our Jobs! (don’t they?),” McKinney compressed a 15-week long course into a one-hour session that covered the hot political topic of immigration. Noting that immigrants, both legal and illegal, affect our economy, McKinney fielded questions from parents and alums about whether the influx and employment of immigrants is beneficial or detrimental to our country.

“The answer lies in how we define ‘we’ and ‘they,'” explains McKinney.  “Are we defining ‘we’ as educated or uneducated? How about ‘they’ – are we defining it as skilled or unskilled?”

At the same time, parents and alums who wanted to delve a little more deeply into forensics headed to Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus’ talk on “The Connection between Forensic Chemistry and True Crime.” Recounting a case from her 300-level science class, de Denus cited the work of Ariella Korn ’12 and Adam Brooks ’12, two students who took her class last fall. Citing the case of Kristen Gilbert, DeDenus told the assembled classroom of alums and parents about a 1990s nurse who was convicted for using adrenaline to kill four people. Audience members responded with gasps of horror when de Denus revealed that Gilbert was suspected of killing another 50, for which she never faced prosecution. Explaining the impartiality of labs and the increased level of standards within them, de Denus showcased how labs help in uncovering the culprit in crimes.

Those interested in Geneva’s history headed to a class given by John Marks, the curator of the Geneva Historical Society, titled “Where is Here? The Cultural Geography of Geneva.” To a crowd of more than 30 people in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library, Marks explained the evolution of Geneva from a town in which the lake had the most centrifugal force to one whose focus eventually changed to the train tracks that ran through the center of town. Parents and alums listened attentively, asking about Geneva’s present-day prospects. Mara O’Laughlin ’66 weighed in on the issue. “You can’t minimize the impact of the wineries, which bring in more than 50 million tourists to the Finger Lakes, and Geneva in particular, every year.” Marks agreed, but also showcased local industry, such as Vance Metal Fabricators, Inc. and the newly established Vere Sandals, which operate out of Geneva, N.Y. Members of the audience were so interested in the topic that many stayed after the end of class to continue discussing the matter.

Filing out of the classrooms at the end of the one-hour sessions, parents had a better idea of their children’s weekly schedules while alumni and alumnae discussed their own college years before heading off to their next activity.


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