Moving Up Day, one of the oldest and fondest traditions of William Smith, was held on Friday, April 25 to celebrate the numerous accomplishments of the women of the college, both individual and collective.
Beginning with the annual gathering at the top of William Smith Hill – the site of the original William Smith College buildings – students assembled into groups by class year, making the traditional procession to Stern Lawn.
Each class carried its traditional banner to the ceremonial tent, where they were joined by William Smith Dean and Professor of History Susanne McNally and HWS President Mark D. Gearan, as well as other faculty and community members. Students also wore their class colors in order to display, support and honor their class membership.
“How honored I feel to have led a world-class institution committed to the education of women,” said McNally during the opening ceremony by reflecting on her tenure at William Smith.
McNally also spoke to the ceremony’s audience about the William Smith’s newest tradition: Women Moving Women Up. This initiative focuses on celebrating the empowerment of women, through women, by women and has seen marked success on campus since its inception.
The Moving Up Day program included a list of more than 50 student organizations that had supported Women Moving Women Up. McNally read each entry aloud to recognize student contributions.
“I thank Dean McNally for this great initiative to bring out the very best at HWS,” said Gearan during his remarks. “This is a special place and your commitment to the community as women is for what I am very grateful.”
Gearan and members of the faculty presented awards to students based on civic leadership, academic excellence and devotion to the college. Following the presentation of awards, students took part in the traditional passing of the garland from seniors to juniors, representing the college’s heritage of trees in honor of nurseryman and William Smith College founder William Smith.
“Your college was founded with the explicit goal of establishing more abundant lives,” said McNally, noting the symbolic nature of many cherished traditions during the ceremony.
Associate Dean of William Smith College Lisa Kaenzig said there is a remarkable inheritance of educating young women at William Smith under the coordinate system at HWS. She said Moving Up Day was an important celebration, highlighting the range of involvement students of the college can have during their time on campus. Kaenzing said the ceremony was also a great opportunity to recognize, “Women Moving Women Up.”
“This initiative celebrates the hundreds of William Smith students who are engaged in a multitude of important projects, locally and globally, to support the education and welfare of women and girls all over the world,” Kaenzig said. “Students were standing on their chairs at Moving Up Day, holding up their hands, to signify all of the many ways in which they were involved in various Women Moving Women Up activities over this past academic year. The tent was filled with energy and laughter, as we celebrated the important difference our students make in our world each and every day for other women and girls.”
The ceremony concluded with remarks from HWS Chaplain Lesley Adams, who read from the poem “Bonsai” by Marge Piercy and encouraged students to grow to their real potential and independence as women by chanting “I am not a bonsai” as they proceeded out of the ceremonial tent.