Stewardson Society chairs Hannah Cooper ’16, Alex Oliveira ’16 and Afrika Nora Owes ’16 are planning a series of events for the Hobart and William Smith senior classes throughout the 2015-16 academic year, as a way to leave a final cultural and financial mark on the Colleges before graduation.
Beyond the traditional monetary gift the Stewardson Society presents to the Colleges, Owes hopes “to think of creative ways we can give back to really impact the HWS community.”
A sociology major and double-minor in Africana studies and public policy, Owes says that “with the dialogue of the ‘Culture of Respect‘ as a major topic on campus, I wanted to give a gift that would help change the social culture on campus. I wanted a way to get to know my peers more, by working with various groups of students and hosting events will allow me to know more of my peers before we graduate.”
Named for Reverend Langdon Stewardson, the first president of the combined Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the Stewardson Society organizes members of the senior classes to present the Colleges with a gift in honor of their graduation. Since the 1980s, the tradition has united seniors with alums who have preceded them.
With Cooper’s HWS family history — her parents areTrustee Edward Cooper ’86 and Robin Savits Cooper ’87 and her grandparents are Joel Savits ’56 and former member of the Board of Trustees Jacqueline Wrubel Savits ’57– she says she “has big shoes to fill” and hopes to show “the importance of giving back to a place that has given us, especially my family, so much. I want donors from various social groups, races, cultures and backgrounds to have a say in where their donations will go, and voice opinions about how Stewardson can help the campus community.”
The participation rate of seniors making a gift varies year-to-year with the Classes of 2015 at 71 percent and; the Classes of 2012 hold the record with 78.5 percent. To date, the Classes of 2016 are already ahead of previous years, having raised $5,444 from 103 donors, and Cooper, a history major and American studies minor, intends to help the Classes of 2016 stay on that track and claim the record.
“I am a competitive person, so I really want to beat the previous classes,” she says. “My role as a chair of the Stewardson Society is to encourage people to donate as a way to give back to their school, a place that has given them so many opportunities.”
“Through meeting weekly to discuss new ideas and plans, we are in charge of keeping people up to date with what is coming up and considering new ideas and strategies,” says Oliveira, a media & society and history double-major who is minoring in English. “My father has worked in college development all his life so I am naturally inclined to be interested in fundraising. I hope to foster a desire for our Classes to give back for years to come.”
After a Stewardson Society-sponsored kickball game in September — which brought in more than $600 — the chairs are planning a tour of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 13; an ugly sweater party in December; and a trustee reception this coming spring, which will give seniors a chance to network with members of the HWS Board of Trustees as graduation approaches.
To join, the Stewardson Society is asking each senior to donate $20.16 in honor of their class year. Stewardson Society representatives will be tabling in the Scandling Campus Center throughout the semester. Gifts can be made by cash or check (payable to Hobart and William Smith Colleges); online, at www.hws.edu/srgift; or deducted from on-campus pay.