“Once you go to Hobart and William Smith, you have a lifetime connection with the people you meet,” said Michael Carr ’86, P’17, of Glenville, N.Y. “Geneva is home and always will be for me.”
One of more than 3,000 visitors on campus this past weekend, Carr joined with fellow alums and HWS parents and families to celebrate all things HWS during Homecoming and Family Weekend 2015. A memorable gathering, HWS spirit was felt campus-wide with victories from Hobart football and William Smith soccer teams, a standing-room-only President’s Forum Series talk by HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D. ’97, and the dethroning of the reigning three-time Fall National winners.
“This is unbelievable, my husband I are really thrilled to be here,” said Dottie Bauer GP’18, who traveled from Charleston, S.C., to watch her grandson Alex Bauer ’18 race in the Fall Nationals boxcar derby race. “They were just so excited to race; I’ve never heard the enthusiasm of the crowd quite like that.”
Bauer helped the Theta Delta Chi boxcar, driven by Carson Bailer ’18, to victory as they defeated seven other teams vying for this year’s title. In annual fashion, the teams raced down William Smith Hill as the fierce competition led to close races, lost wheels and even a crash into the hay bales that knocked team “Young Savages,” the reigning champions, out of the competition.
While watching the excitement on the Hill, students, families and alums enjoyed the annual Barn Burner Tailgate lunch before heading to the weekend’s athletic events. Fans watched Hobart football roll over Worcester Polytechnic Institute 37-7, and William Smith soccer as they defeated Skidmore 3-0 while honoring Head William Smith Soccer Coach Aliceann Wilber’s P’12 and the Heron soccer program’s milestone 500th win. The Heron soccer program and Wilber defeated the University of Rochester on Sept. 20, to clinch the landmark moment. A special reception in Winn-Seeley gym was held to honor Wilber before Saturday’s game.
“We’re just delighted to see this very beautiful campus and terrific school,” said Ron Lazar GP’17, who traveled from Long Island, N.Y., with his son Tom Raune P’17 to watch his granddaughter Brie Raune ’17 play soccer for the Herons. “The events this weekend have been really unique; we’re just delighted to be here.”
While athletic events drew throngs of proud HWS fans to the stands, thought-provoking discussions earlier Saturday morning also drew sizeable crowds of HWS students, families, alumna and alumnae. In the Vandervort Room, President Mark D. Gearan gave his annual “State of the Colleges Address,” discussing the progress made by the Colleges over the past year while outlining his plan for the upcoming academic year.
“Hobart and William Smith is a great place, indeed it’s a special place, the question is how can we make it an even better place?” asked Gearan as he outlined recent changes, including the improvements made to the curriculum, changes within the Office of Title IX Programs to expand outreach, and more.
Following Gearan’s address, students, alums and parents gathered in Albright Auditorium for the President’s Forum with Whitaker, an Emmy award-winning veteran of CBS News and a correspondent for “60 Minutes.” The discussion, which was facilitated by Gearan and HWS Presidential Fellow and Ithaca Mayor Svante L. Myrick, focused on today’s ever-changing media landscape.
“We were most excited to attend President Gearan’s speech and Bill Whitaker’s talk,” said Gina Podlesak P’19, of New Canaan, Conn. “When we were here for Orientation, we absolutely loved the Colleges, so we look for any opportunity to come back.” Her son Justin Podlesak ’19 is a first-year student.
Also on Saturday morning, mini-college courses gave HWS families a sampling of academic work at HWS, while alums had the chance to get back in the classroom and re-acquainted with favorite professors. Some of this year’s course offerings included Assistant Professor of Geoscience Nicholas Metz’ course on recent weather disasters; Professor of Music Robert Cowles’ music theory and popular song course; a debate course taught by Associate Professor of Philosophy Eric Barnes; and “King Arthur: Myth, Reality and Cultural Need” taught by Associate Professor of English Laurence Errusard.
The annual Student Research Symposium in the Vandervort Room gave students, families and alums a glimpse of the caliber of student work that takes place at the Colleges as they walked through the poster presentation and got to speak with summer research students individually. Nearly 300 people attended, including Whitaker, who browsed through the poster presentations and spoke with students about their projects.
“It’s really wonderful and there’s such a huge gamut of topics; it goes from wage discrepancy to chemistry that I can’t even understand,” said Elana Gitter ’85, P’16, who attended the Symposium with her husband, Henry Gitter P’19 to watch their daughter, Joy Gitter ’16 present her project. “It’s very impressive; the kids do really remarkable things at this school.”
A full lineup of events on Friday and throughout HWS Spirit Week boosted HWS pride in anticipation of Saturday’s academic, athletic and campus-wide events. Families, alumni and alumnae were welcomed to campus by theme and fraternity houses that were decked out in HWS-themed streamers, balloons and banners. The Global Perspectives house won this year’s decorating competition with their “lives of consequence” theme featuring flags from around the world and HWS sports gear.
The always popular Quad-a-Palooza event on Friday night provided entertainment for all ages with a barbeque dinner, photo booth, inflatable toys and games, and the “CABeret” student talent show. The competition included performances from the Colleges’ three a cappella groups – Three Miles Lost, the Hobartones, and Perfect Third – as well as individual students. Conor Quinlan ’17, who sang and played the guitar won the competition, while Chantel Whitley ’16 was runner up for her vocal performance. A total of 10 acts lit up the stage on the steps of Coxe Hall throughout the evening.
“I am always impressed by the families, alumni and alumnae who turn out to support the Colleges and show their HWS spirit throughout the weekend of events,” says Director of Parent Relations Kelly Young P’17. “This is one of the most memorable weekends of the year as we celebrate our pride in Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”