Democrat & Chronicle, a Rochester-based newspaper that is part of the USA Today network, published an article called “Hobart and William Smith President Gearan to Leave in 2017” on Aug. 17. The piece covers President Mark D. Gearan’s announcement by detailing some of the many improvements achieved during his presidency, including the doubling of the HWS financial aid budget and endowed funds, the construction of six new buildings, and advances in energy efficiency.
The full text of the article is below:
Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark D. Gearan, who has served as head of these colleges since 1999, will retire from his post at the end of the coming school year.
After leaving HWS, Gearan will serve as “president in residence” at Harvard University, addressing issues facing higher education.
Gearan, 59, a former director of the Peace Corps, has led HWS through a period of unprecedented growth while HWS has risen in the academic rankings and deepened its ties with the community.
“By every measure, Hobart and William Smith is a better place because of Mark’s vision and principled leadership,” said HWS Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas S. Bozzuto, in a statement Wednesday announcing Gearan’s retirement.
Gearan said: “I feel blessed to have lived on campus with a vibrant student body from around the nation and the globe who bring vitality to this remarkable educational environment in the classroom and outside the classroom, in Geneva and beyond.”
Based in Geneva, HWS has forged close ties to the community under Gearan. The Geneva Partnership that has been created increased HWS’ community engagement and in 2012 HWS established a 10-year, $1.7 million commitment to help the city balance its budget.
Gearan has held leadership roles in various organizations, including serving as chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 2014 to 2015, he also served as chair of the New York Gaming Commission.
Gearan was appointed president of HWS in 1999, after serving in various positions in the administration of President Bill Clinton. In addition to directing the Peace Corps, Gearan was an assistant to the president, director of communications and deputy chief of staff.
He is the longest-serving president in HWS history and has put a priority on community service.
HWS students contribute more than 80,000 hours of service annually. One of HWS’ partnerships is with the Geneva City School District, in an initiative called Geneva 2020 to provide assistance in areas identified as being critical to children.
Under Gearan, HWS has risen from 81st to 61st in U.S. News & World Report’s best national liberal college rankings.
The student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1, compared with 13:1 in 1999, while the number of full-time faculty has increased by 34 percent.
Gearan has presided over a number of initiatives.
In 2007, he signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and in doing so HWS became a charter member of an initiative to reduce emission of gases causing global warming.
He also led an effort to establish the Finger Lakes Institute, which promotes environmental research and education.
In another initiative, two solar farms – with more than 17,000 solar panels – are being created for HWS and will generate 5 megawatts, enough electricity for about 50 percent of HWS’ needs. The farms will be the largest solar installation of any institution of higher education in New York and, nationally, one of the top 10 largest college solar projects.
HWS has also become involved in teaching inmates. In recent years, about a dozen faculty members have taught courses at Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, Seneca County.
During his tenure, six nbuildings have been constructed, including the Gearan Center, a 65,000-square-foot facility that provides space for music, dance, theater and other activities.
HWS’ annual operating budget is now at $104 million, up from about $80 million in the 2010-11 school year.
HWS’ endowment has almost doubled, from about $107 million to about $200 million.
Since 1999, 168 new endowed scholarships have been created at HWS, and its financial aid budget has grown from $19.6 million to $42 million this school year.