Another successful Reunion Weekend has come to a close. As alums finished brunch on Sunday morning and packed their cars heading out of Geneva, the Hobart and William Smith campus said goodbye to more than 1,000 graduates and family members who returned to the shores of Seneca Lake for Reunion 2012.
The highlight of the weekend commenced with a Campaign Celebration in the Bristol Field House on Saturday night. The gala welcomed all classes to a dinner and program that commemorated the successful close of Campaign for the Colleges, the largest capital campaign undertaken by Hobart and William Smith.
“Tonight, as we gather in celebration of Campaign for the Colleges, we are truly celebrating the transformative difference that philanthropy can make in the lives of others,” said President Mark D. Gearan in his welcoming address. “With pride in the many accomplishments that mark today’s Hobart and William Smith, it is my distinct privilege to announce that Campaign for the Colleges has surpassed its $200 million goal.”
Gearan spoke to the accomplishments of the Campaign – including the numerous scholarships, honors and awards earned by the current student body – commending alums for their continued commitment to the education of students.
“This is really a celebration of all of you, our alumni and alumnae, who, through your good work in your careers and as engaged members of your communities, lead lives of consequence,” remarked Gearan. “You are role models for our students, and it is you who continue to motivate us to make these Colleges a better place for generations to come.”
Cynthia Fults Burke ’87 spoke about her dedication to the Colleges, her fervent support for its athletics and her immediate connection with Hobart and William Smith. “What started as a decision to attend William Smith has turned into a lifetime of belonging to this community,”said Burke, noting she benefited from the Colleges’ exceptional athletics programs and facilities. “I support Hobart and William Smith because it’s my way to say ‘thank you:’ thank you to a place that did so much for me.”
Actor Christopher McDonald ’77, who has enjoyed a rich career, expressed his gratitude for the Colleges, crediting his time and education for getting him where he is today. “Hobart and William Smith changed my life,” said McDonald.
Although he entered the Colleges with the intention of becoming a dentist, an acting class selected on a whim forever-altered the course of his life. The class led to numerous productions in the Little Theater, the important mentorship of theater professor E.E. Griffith and countless hours spent rehearsing with the Koshare Dance Collective in Winn-Seeley gymnasium.
“These experiences very much changed me,” said McDonald. “Had I not stepped into that theater, into that dance studio, I would not know what I could do. I have such gratitude for these Colleges. They gave me such confidence, and allowed me to talk to anyone, to do anything.”
Interim Provost and Professor of Economics Pat McGuire HON’10, L.H.D.’12 shared his own gratitude for the Colleges, speaking to his more than 40 years on campus learning from faculty, staff and students alike. McGuire commended the continued dedication of the Colleges’ alums.
“These Colleges have benefited from the generosity and care of their graduates with scholarship support to current students, endowed chairs for current faculty and outstanding facilities,” said McGuire. “I see you, our graduates, as the proof of our amazing ability to face the future.”
Recent graduates Jarrid Blades ’12, Isaias Garcia ’12 and Wendi Bacon ’12 also joined the gathering, thanking alums for the opportunities their support offered them. “You have truly made a difference in the live of students – in our lives,” explained Bacon. “There are so man things about the HWS experience that tie us together. Through the example you have set through your support of the Campaign, we understand that we have a responsibility to give back.”
At the close of the dinner, the traditional party on the Quad was punctuated by a colorful fireworks display and the lively music of the band “Me and The Boyz” – not to mention good friends and enthusiastic dancing.
Earlier in the weekend, mini-college courses were offered, giving alums the chance to revisit their favorite classes and professors in a wide variety of interesting one-hour courses.
The afternoon rolled in with a bang during the traditional Reunion Parade down Pulteney Street and onto the Quad. Led by the Empire Statesmen marching band and Hobart mascot Bart, members from all class years processed alongside old friends and classmates.
After a cookout lunch on the Quad, alums spent time exploring and rediscovering campus through open houses at the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation, fraternity houses, the Abbe Center for Jewish Life, Intercultural Affairs and countless other locations across the campus and Geneva.
Alums and their families also spent time taking tea with the William Smith deans, and taking a historic tour of Geneva. Others spent time perusing the Davis Gallery at Houghton House, while some joined in on a rhythm circle on the Quad.
With the rousing success of Reunion 2012, alums can only wait in excited anticipation for what promises to be a truly spectacular Reunion 2013.