Mara O’Laughlin, who served the Colleges for more than 30 years as director of admissions will now lead 100-year anniversary effort
(Jan. 18, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y. – Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been a part of Mara O’Laughlin’s life since she arrived on campus as a first-year William Smith student in 1962. Today, Colleges President Mark D. Gearan announced that O’Laughlin, currently the director of admissions, will lead the effort in Alumni House for the William Smith College Centennial Campaign.
Following the close of the academic year, O’Laughlin’s title will be assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement for the William Smith Centennial Campaign.
“Mara O’Laughlin’s leadership of the William Smith Centennial Campaign represents an invaluable asset as the Colleges seek to mark this important event,” Gearan said. “Her sense of institutional history, her extraordinary commitment to Hobart and William Smith and her broad portfolio of skills leave her poised to make a lasting contribution to her alma mater.”
Originally from New York City and a resident of the Geneva area for more than 40 years, O’Laughlin, a 1966 graduate of William Smith College, taught high school social studies in the Romulus Central School District for five years. She has been the admissions director of the Colleges for 32 years, and can tout admitting nearly two-thirds of the living William Smith alumnae. Additionally, she was instrumental in establishing “Frank’s Books” in the Warren Hunting Smith Library on campus – an extensive scholarly collection of the late Professor Emeritus Frank O’Laughlin, to whom she was married for 35 years. She also established the Frank and Mara '66 O'Laughlin Scholarship, which targets middle income students of high promise in their first year.
O’Laughlin will work in collaboration with William Smith alumnae and advancement staff members to shape the centennial campaign, which will culminate in 2008 – the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the women’s college. Beginning in 2006, students, faculty, staff and alumnae will begin to mark the events that formed William Smith College. An overall steering committee has been established and is headed by William Smith Dean Debra DeMeis to plan the centennial celebration.
In 1908, William Smith College opened with 18 students in the charter class. The College bears the name of a local businessman who, shortly after the turn of the century, began pursuing an interest in creating a liberal arts college for women. It was a time of widespread social interest in the roles and restrictions placed on women and William Smith had befriended some of the so-called suffragettes and other liberal social advocates of nearby Seneca Falls, N.Y. With their help, Smith defined a college that would exist to introduce women to a much broader sense of self and life-course possibilities than were conventionally recognized at the time. Because he could not afford to establish an independent institution, he approached Hobart College leaders to offer them money to establish a coordinate school for women. William Smith College was founded adjacent to Hobart, and entered into a coordinate arrangement that is now unique among American colleges.
Continuing today, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are known for having this coordinate history as private, liberal arts institutions. The Colleges have grown to become one of the nation’s top study abroad programs and are noted for their dedication to community service. Home to three Rhodes Scholars, Hobart and William Smith provide an interdisciplinary education, where learning is reinforced through on-campus academic centers and initiatives such as the Finger Lakes Institute, the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men, and the President’s Forum Lecture Series. A full 75 percent of HWS students are engaged in some form of undergraduate research; many get published or present their findings before professional and trade organizations such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.