After a day full of introductions and newly realized independence, the Classes of 2016 were officially welcomed to Hobart and William Smith during the traditional President’s Welcome Ceremony held on the first day of Orientation.
“This year, the Colleges are challenging our students and our entire community: ask what you can do to improve our community, our campus and our world,” said President Mark D. Gearan during the ceremony on Stern Lawn. “You were selected from one of the largest applicant pools in our history. The competition was stiff but we saw something in each one of you that we believed would add significantly to our community – and you saw something equally valuable in Hobart and William Smith.”
“The next four years will give you the confidence and experience necessary to investigate new ideas, cultures and points of view,” said Gearan. “I have confidence that this new beginning in your lives promises to be one of excitement, exploration, friendship and accomplishment.”
The newly appointed Provost and Dean of Faculty Titilayo Ufomata urged students to consider the value of their educations. “We are counting on you to take advantage of the options provided to you by a liberal arts education, to use it as a platform to participate and to form worlds of experience,” said Ufomata.
Trustee Dr. Richard L. Wasserman ’70 spoke on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Alumni and Alumnae Associations. Wasserman reflected on the recent and successful conclusion of the Campaign for the Colleges – the largest capital project undertaken by the Colleges – and the many facilities and opportunities the campus has to offer.
“I believe that this is a place that fosters the kind of intellectual and social growth that prepares students to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. Our graduates go on to prominent careers in every possible field all around the world, and they do so because they were educated at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”
The Deans of the Colleges were also on hand to extend their welcome – and offer a few words of wisdom for the newest members of the HWS community. Dean of Hobart College Eugen Baer P’95, P’97, HON ’07 spoke about Hobart’s long tradition of academic excellence and mutual respect.
Baer also sought to answer the question that was undoubtedly on the minds of all students as they unpacked and met their peers and professors for the first time: what is Hobart and William Smith all about? “It’s all about the power of your own mind,” Baer said. “Welcome to a place where you can unleash this power, find out who you are, what your unique place in life is, your passion, your ‘thing.’ We encourage students to become uniquely themselves.”
“I know,” added Baer, “that when you discover the power of your mind, you will undergo a transformation that will last for a lifetime.”
Dean of William Smith College Susanne McNally gave a thoughtful welcome to new students, extolling the values of the coordinate system. McNally encouraged students to take advantage of the 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio, using their professors – and deans – to their full ability, to get the most out of their time at the Colleges.
“I have taught thousands of students,” said McNally. “For decades I have watched HWS graduates leave to lead lives shaped by the liberal arts traditions they were taught here – balanced, generous, interesting, interested and valuable to others – as we like to say, ‘lives of consequence.'”
As the sun began to set on Stern Hall, this year’s Orientation Coordinators Nelle Crossan ’13 and Sean Peer ’13 made their first official introduction to the Classes of 2016 before parents bid goodbye to their newly matriculated first-years.
“We hope you’ll become an active, engaged member of this community,” said Peer. “But most of all, we hope that you’ll put yourself out there, be your genuine self and make connections on campus.”
“You’ll learn about our commitment to inclusivity, our dedication to the City of Geneva and our passion for sustainability,” explained Crossan. “I have had the best possible college experience – now, Sean and I are committed to making sure you have the best possible introduction to campus.”