Convocation Begins a New Academic Year – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Convocation Begins a New Academic Year

Literally a “calling together,” the tradition of Convocation brings the entire Hobart and William Smith community together to celebrate the new semester and to set the tone for the academic year ahead.

The annual ceremony will take place on Monday, Aug. 31, at 5 p.m. on the Stern Lawn, where President Mark D. Gearan and Provost Titilayo Ufomata will be joined by HWS Board Chair Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09, who will offer the keynote Convocation address. Also speaking are: Professor of Art and Architecture Nicholas Ruth, recipient of the 2014-2015 Faculty Prize for Research, who will give the faculty address; Title IX Coordinator Susan Lee, who will provide the staff address; and Chaplain Maurice Charles who will offer reflections on the coming year. The ceremony will be opened by Faculty Marshal and Professor of Biology Elizabeth Newell and will include remarks from Student Trustees Max Gorton ’16 and Nicole O’Connell ’16.

“Convocation is an ideal opportunity for us to pause as a community and affirm our values,” says Gearan. “As we commit ourselves to the rigors of the academic year ahead and all its attendant promises, we are reminded of our mission, rooted in our dedication to preparing students to lead lives of consequence. This year’s lineup of speakers includes colleagues who are committed to enhancing our community in meaningful and varied way.”

Now entering her 21st year of service on the Board of Trustees, Zupan was elected chair of the Board in 2012, becoming the first William Smith alumna to hold the position. Zupan served as one of the tri-chairs of Campaign for the Colleges, the largest and most successful campaign in the Colleges’ history, which raised more than $200 million to support the endowment and capital projects. Her leadership on the Centennial Steering and Fund Committees was instrumental during the celebration of William Smith College’s Centennial. In 2008, she was presented with the HWS President’s Medal in recognition of her deep and multifaceted contributions to the Colleges. She is the owner of a financial planning firm based in Syracuse, N.Y., a trustee emerita of the Upstate University Foundation and a member of the Foundation Board for SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Ruth joined the faculty in 1995 and has since received numerous accolades and recognition for his drawings, paintings and prints. His work has been featured in dozens of exhibitions in galleries across the country and around the world. As the recipient of the “Best in Show” award at the 2014 Southern Printmaking Biennale, Ruth has been given a solo exhibition at the University of North Georgia this fall. He has been invited to the “2nd Global Print” exhibition in Portugal. What’s most striking about his recent accomplishments, writes a colleague, is that he has “virtually reinvented the type of artist he was five or six years ago: both in his style and his medium.” Before joining the Colleges, Ruth taught at Brookhaven Community College, Collin County Community College and the Dallas Museum of Art. After earning his B.A. in studio art from Pomona College, he interned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, N.Y. He then earned his M.F.A. in painting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University

Since joining the Colleges faculty in 1988, Newell has completed research projects in Costa Rica and Panama and has mentored students in research projects at Zurich Bog. Her research interests concern plant ecology, physiological ecology, community ecology, and tropical ecology, as well as international agricultural development and conservation. Newell has numerous journal articles published in the area of plant physiological ecology and was a Diplomacy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Newell received her B.S. from Bates College and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Charles will give the welcome address and also conclude the ceremony with a closing Prayer. Beginning his appointment on July 1, Charles was previously associate dean for religious life at Stanford University, where he was responsible for regular preaching at university public worship while offering spiritual, vocational and crisis-related support to students, faculty and staff. A scholar as well as a pastor, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Seabury Western Theological Seminary and Case Western Reserve University.

Lee also began her appointment on July 1, and has begun working with faculty, staff and students to continue expanding Title IX education, and sexual misconduct and sexual violence prevention initiatives on campus. With more than two decades of experience, Lee most recently served as the Director of Affirmative Action and Campus Diversity at Indiana University South Bend where she was Deputy Title IX Coordinator with Title IX compliance responsibility for a campus of 7,500 students. She is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Law, the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Purdue University School of Nursing, and has completed the National Association of College and University Attorneys’ extensive Title IX Coordinator program.  

Gorton is a double major in architectural studies and political science. In addition to his role as a residential assistant, he is a member of the constitutional committee as well as the a cappella group, the Hobartones.

A biology major, O’Connell has served as an organizer for HWS Colleges Against Cancer and has been integral to the planning of the Colleges’ Relay for Life events during her time at HWS. She volunteers off-campus with the Geneva Heroes Program and the Geneva After-School Program.

Convocation will be broadcast live on WHWS-FM.

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