Orientation Weekend includes the practice of taking a class photo illuminated by cell phones on Friday night and the time-honored tradition of semi-formal Welcome ceremonies and dinners hosted by the Deans on Sunday night. The signature events celebrate the heritage of rich tradition and academic excellence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
On Sunday, Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97 opened Hobart’s Exercises of Matriculation with the call to order, reminding students that their job as Hobart students is “to learn.”
“Disce is an imperative, an order, and there is no way around it,” Baer said, explaining the meaning behind the phrase imprinted on the Hobart pin given to each Hobart first-year student at the ceremony on the steps of Coxe Hall. “It’s also not a plural. It is a single word – you - meaning you have to learn.”
Hobart’s matriculation ceremony is a tradition that began with the College’s foundation in 1822. The ceremony honors the “shared commitment to each other” that resonates between the students, the College, and the more than 13,000 Hobart College alumni. Included in the ceremony is the traditional roll call, in which each student is called to receive a certificate of matriculation and touch the Oar of Agayentah that marks them as Hobart students.
The ceremony proceeded with the invocation from Chaplain Maurice Charles and remarks from President Mark D. Gearan. Charles reminded students that “there will be challenges ahead, but blessings in every endeavor.” Gearan explained the significance of the ceremony, calling it an “intentional” ceremony of the Colleges as it signifies the first-years’ admission into Hobart.
William Warder ’96, senior associate director of Admissions, conducted the Roll Call while members of the Druid Society held the Paddle of Agayentah as each student touched the oar and received a certificate and pin from Baer.
After the first-years were officially deemed Statesmen, First-Year Dean David Mapstone ’93 offered the keynote address, providing contextualization behind the history of the Hobart nickname, the Statesmen, and providing his thoughts on how the new students will share their time together as Hobart students.
“I would like to suggest that our mission is ultimately about developing men of character,” Mapstone said. “So for you newly minted men of Hobart it is quite easy to find constant reminders of our mission through the actions of our alumni and your fellow students.”
After closing remarks from Baer, the students sang the Hobart alma mater and proceeded to the Vandervort Room for the John Henry Hobart Dinner, their first meal as official Hobart “brothers.”
While the Hobart students took their first steps on their lifelong journey as Statesmen, members of the William Smith Class of 2019 gathered in Bristol Gym where they participated in the oldest William Smith tradition, as they were welcomed by faculty, alumnae, and fellow students to their new home at the William Smith Dean’s Dinner.
William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig opened the celebration, welcoming the Herons into a “community of tradition,” and encouraging them to be mindful of diversity.
“This is a fresh start, a time to meet new people, stay connected with those who are already important to you, and forge ahead into this wonderful college experience,” Kaenzig said. “When you graduate you will be ready for the world. Your entire experience will transform you into an even more tremendous person than you are now.”
Gearan also offered his welcome and assurance to the William Smith first-year students, speaking to them as a Class for the first time. “You’ve come to a very special place, and one we’re very proud of, but I know that you’ll make it an even better place.”
On behalf of the more than 9,000 William Smith Alumnae, Chrissy Bennett-West ’94, associate director of alumnae and alumni relations and a dedicated volunteer to HWS, offered the keynote address, welcoming the latest members of the William Smith to their new home and reminded them that there are thousands of alums who are eager to meet them and “excited to help them.”
“William Smith is my home,” said Bennett-West. “Take every opportunity to experience William Smith, and make it a point to call it home too. You must make a point to get to know it, experience it, and love it.”
Catherine Gallouët, dean of William Smith and professor of French and Francophone Studies, invited the Class of 2019 into the “fine community of women” that make up the William Smith sisterhood.
“William Smith is all about living the dream,” Gallouët remarked. “You will gradually discover yourself, you will break boundaries you did not know existed, you will reach new heights, you will live the dream.”
William Smith Congress President Kimberly Gutierrez ’17 and Dana Williams ’16, from Hai Timiai senior honor society, emphasized the importance of taking risks and getting “comfortable with being uncomfortable” during their first-year on campus.
“My advice to you as you embark on this journey is to hold on to your excitement,” Williams said. “You are no longer bound to the confines of the person you were in high school. The opportunities are endless, and occasionally that will be overwhelming, but the time is now.”
Charles closed the dinner with a poem and a blessing. “May we all do our part to make our sisterhood complete,” he said, reminding the students of the camaraderie that comes with their acceptance into their new, lifelong community of William Smith alumnae.