Celebrating the launch of the academic journey for the HWS Classes of 2019, the traditional President’s Welcome during Orientation Weekend brought together this year’s 645 first-year students, their families and members of the campus community to officially welcome the new students on their first day at the Colleges.
“I have confidence that this new beginning in your lives promises to be one of excitement, exploration, friendship and accomplishment in our classrooms, laboratories, performance spaces, studios and athletic venues,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “Our confidence in you is well-deserved as judged by our committee on admissions. You are an outstanding group of students – high school class presidents and team captains, filmmakers and editors of school papers, volunteers for national nonprofits and an outdoor enthusiast who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail this summer. You hail from 35 states and 18 countries around the world.”
The President’s Welcome, which was held on Stern Lawn, also included remarks from HWS leadership, as well as the Colleges’ Orientation Coordinators Peter Budmen ’15, MAT ’16 and Hannah Connolly ’16.
“Under the mentorship of faculty and guided by an interdisciplinary curriculum grounded in exploration and rigor, the next four years will give you the confidence and experience necessary to investigate new ideas, cultures and points of view,” Gearan said.
Before introducing Chair of the Board of Trustees Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09, Gearan shared insights from recent graduates, including former Student Trustee Caroline Demeter ’15, who works as an operations specialist at Standard and Poor’s; former chair of the Stewardson Society Christopher Troy ’15, who soon will teach English in Argentina through a Fulbright scholarship; former voting member of the Budget Allocation Committee Aloysisus Kolubah’15, who is a social media manager for Stature Suiting in New York City, and Madeline Buckley ’15, recipient of the 2015 Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in Boston. The recent graduates urged the incoming students to get involved on campus, in the community and abroad; to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities available through the Colleges; to pursue new challenges; and to follow their passions.
Zupan shared words about her experience as an alumna. “I’d like to extend a special welcome to the more than 100 members of the Classes of 2019 who are from a legacy family – meaning that one or more of your family members attended Hobart and William Smith. … I am one of 10 members of my family to come here for a great education.”
Following Zupan’s address, HWS Trustee Dr. Richard Wasserman ’70 extended his gratitude to the students and families for making HWS their choice for an outstanding liberal arts education. “You are entrusting your sons and daughters to us. We take that responsibility very seriously so we have worked hard to create an environment that fosters the intellectual and social growth that will prepare your children to engage with the world. You can depend on it.”
William Smith Dean Catherine Gallouët and Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97 also served as speakers during the President’s Welcome, each offering remarks about the culture of respect that’s central to the Colleges’ community.
“We are all equal, with equal rights and obligations, but our needs are different,” Baer said. “Hobart and William Smith Colleges profess the equality of both sexes but they also emphasize sex equity. …We also understand the fluidity of gendered identity and expression, where students can explore and if necessary transition or hold gender identity in abeyance altogether. Whatever your needs are, I want to assure you, you have come to the right place.”
Gallouët said, “Prepare yourself for an intense experience. Prepare to be challenged in ways you never imagined. Prepare to spend quality time with incredibly gifted and committed faculty and staff members. If you give it your all, you will learn who you are, what your passion is. You will build bonds that will last a lifetime, you will learn rigor in work, creativity, awareness of self and others. We will be here for you, every step of the way.”
The Classes of 2019 also had the opportunity to hear from their Orientation Coordinators before kicking off the rest of Orientation weekend.
“Together with the experiences you will have over your next four years at HWS, you will form your foundation to lead a life of consequence,” Connolly said. “We are sure that you have already heard that phrase today, and it’s something you will hear over and over again at HWS. Lives of consequence will never be defined for you; rather it’s something you will come to define for yourself.”
In light of the “keeping it local” theme of Orientation 2015, Budmen said, “You will have opportunities to explore both locally and abroad, discover new passions and perspectives, and make lasting connections with both HWS and Geneva community members. With these opportunities, you also have the responsibility to make the most out of your experiences, here at HWS and in Geneva.”
To close the President’s Welcome – before students and their families gathered across Stern Lawn to say goodbye – Provost and Dean of Faculty Titi Ufomata welcomed the students to the HWS community.
“I want to encourage you to develop the habit of being fully present,” Ufomata said. “Enjoy the moment. Use it to lay a sound foundation for your future. … You should leave with an education that provides you with the capacity to lead a fruitful life, with a fairly self-sufficient mind, and a capacity for reasonable happiness. You should not only have proved yourself to be intelligent, you should also have acquired the capacity for wisdom.”