One of the most cherished traditions at Hobart and William Smith, Baccalaureate brought together the Classes of 2016, their families and friends, and community members to celebrate the Colleges’ past, present and future through peaceful reflection, readings, music and prayer. In annual fashion, the program was held at Trinity Church on historic South Main Street.
Delivering the Baccalaureate address – which was met with a standing ovation – Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09, who has served on the HWS Board of Trustees for 22 years, the last four as board chair, shared three lessons for the graduates to keep in mind as they conclude their undergraduate journeys: stay connected to HWS; don’t be afraid to break down barriers; and strike a balance between giving and receiving.
“First: you may be graduating tomorrow, but you are not done with HWS and HWS isn’t done with you,” said Zupan, who at Commencement is receiving an honorary degree along with her father, John F. Collins P’72, P’74, P’84, P’90, GP’09, GP’12, GP’18. “You are graduating into a worldwide force of over 18,000 alumni and alumnae that you will be discovering for the rest of your lives, almost no matter where you live or travel.”
In her second lesson, Zupan stressed the importance of connecting with people beyond any perceived “walls.” She recalled an instance of not connecting with one of her classmates until years later. She encouraged the graduating seniors to not overlook potential connections behind barriers despite initial trepidations.
Reflecting on the significant action of a “stranger” during a life-changing family moment, Zupan called for the graduates to be able to accept help in times of need – and likewise – give back when it is others who are facing challenges.
“No matter how lucky you are, how wealthy you are, how many friends and family you have, you will sometime find yourself needing help,” Zupan said. “And when you do, be in the position to accept it gratefully and gracefully because you are on the right side of that balance of giving and getting.”
Introducing Zupan, Gearan reflected on the significant and vital role that Board Chairs have across higher education, from the complexities of governing institutions to balancing a vast network of relationships. “Fortunately for Hobart and William Smith,” Gearan said, “we have been exceedingly well-served by the leadership of our Board Chair.”
Gearan praised Zupan’s selfless devotion to the Colleges, adding that she is recognized with a “deep gratitude for her service, with respect for her energy and vision that she has brought to her board service and with admiration for her unyielding commitment to Hobart and William Smith.”
The afternoon service also welcomed two student speakers: Leah Segal ’16 and Carmelo Guglielmino ’16.
Segal asked her classmates to consider the many communities they had been a part of during their time at HWS, highlighting that she had forged strong connections with various “vibrant, loving communities.” Segal’s remarks were linked to her reading, a piece from “Mishkan T’filah-A Reform Siddur,” a Jewish prayer book.
Guglielmino recalled that his academic life at HWS gave him the opportunity to experience multiple perspectives, and the ability to enter into thoughtful conversation despite differing understandings. Guglielmino connected his reflections to a reading from Matthew 5:44-45, asking individuals to approach their “enemies” with love.
Additionally, Provost and Dean of Faculty Titilayo Ufomata read a prayer for the Classes of 2016 that was written by the Rev. Lesley M. Adams, retired Chaplain of the Colleges.
The “Sending Forth” was issued by William Smith Dean Catherine Gallouët and Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97. The final blessing was offered by HWS Chaplain the Rev. Maurice Charles and Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and Hillel HWS Adviser Julianne Miller.
Musical performances by HWS Chorale and conducted by Professor of Music Robert Cowles, as well as the Midlakes Brass ensemble and a trumpet performance by David Johnson also highlighted the program.
A tradition dating to eighth-century England, the HWS community has celebrated Baccalaureate for more than 180 years.