It was whirlwind of excitement for the Classes of 2020 as they officially kicked off their undergraduate journeys at HWS during Orientation 2016. They met roommates, classmates, faculty and deans; toured campus and Geneva; and experienced firsthand the Colleges’ traditions of excellence in academics, inclusion and service.
Arrival and Move-in
Hailing from 16 countries and 28 states, the 600 members of the Classes of 2020 and their families were welcomed to campus in annual fashion by President Mark D. Gearan and Mary Herlihy Gearan at the steps of Coxe Hall, as well as by representatives from many segments of the HWS community, from the deans and the alumni and alumnae associations, to the student body governments.
“I can already tell there’s so much spirit here,” said Noah Pillsbury ’20, of Scituate, Mass. “I love the Hobart mascot. I’m excited to be a Statesman!”
Julia Paneyko ’20, of Skillman, N.J., is “looking forward to getting to know new people and being on my own.”
A Warm Welcome
Each year, Orientation includes a formal welcoming of the new classes into the HWS community and the Colleges’ traditions, with addresses from the deans, president, student leaders and alum associations.
During the William Smith Welcome, the speakers encouraged the new students to incorporate the diverse offerings both on campus and off, while embracing the heritage of William Smith women.
“This is a very important moment, the realization you carry a great legacy,” said Dean Catherine Gallouët, who noted that in light of that history, “much is of expected of you.”
“Currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a gallery of unfinished paintings,” said Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig. “You come to us part painted. Be patient. It takes a little while to find the right colors, but you will really be rewarded by the diversity in this place.”
The Hobart tradition of matriculation imparted its own lesson of history: “The center of the seal on the Hobart crest is the word ‘disce,’ which means ‘learn,'” explained Hobart Dean Eugen Baer P’95, P’97. “To learn is your job from now on. You do that job well, learning, 24 hours, seven days a week, inside of class, outside of class. If you do that well, the outcome will be fantastic. It will be hard sometimes, but the payoff is incredible.”
During the President’s Welcome Ceremony, Gearan addressed the promise the new classes hold for the Colleges, “a great place, a very special place… [that the Classes of 2020] will make it an even better place. It’s a place forged in great history, great tradition, great aspiration and great ambition. So know that when you leave, that this is a place of caring and hospitality, and a community that’s committed to inclusion.”
“As you go through the next four years and beyond, interrogating what it means for you personally to live a life of consequence, I want you to remember that what you learn and do here will provide you with the foundation to live that life,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Titi Ufomata.
View of Geneva
On Saturday morning, students, faculty, staff gathered on the Quad for another of the Colleges’ unique ways to inaugurate the new academic year. The Day of Service introduced the Classes of 2020 to their new community as they volunteered at dozens of sites around Geneva, tackling renovation, maintenance and other service projects at prized local institutions.
“It’s going to be our home for the next four years, so it’s great to get out in the community, meet people and give back,” said Liam Knight ’20, of Bristol, Vt.
Knight volunteered at the Center for Concern, Geneva’s food pantry, as did Josue Cuevas ’20, of Bronx, N.Y., who noted that the “Day of Service shows that Hobart and William Smith are committed to service instead of just saying it.”
At the Geneva Gardens Apartments, students paved a path around and through the play place, an experience that highlighted what Molly Sweeney ’20, from Katonah, N.Y., was looking for in a college experience.
Libby Garrison ’20, of Annapolis, Md., who participated in the Pre-Orientation Adventure Program’s Habitat for Humanity building project, was “excited about the community service aspect of HWS.”
At the 66-year-old Mt. Olive Church, the oldest African American church in Geneva, students helped renovate the kitchen and dining area, a project started three weeks ago by the congregation.
“Working as a team, we hope we give [the students] a great lesson in civic service,” said Deacon Henry Farro. “We send our warm appreciation to HWS and the volunteers they send here.”
Activities and Events
Amid the excitement of moving in and meeting the community, new students were able to take a break for thoughtful reflection as well as campus entertainment. Mosaic NY offered a dialogue session focused around themes of homesickness, the amnesty policy, study habits, micro aggressions, LGBTQ resources on campus (including the new QPOC house), library courtesy, mental illness, roommate conflicts, and sexual assault.
In the evening, a Variety Show at Geneva’s historic Smith Opera House showcased a student comedian and performers reflecting on their time as HWS first-year students; dance teams The Executives and Hip~NotiQ’s; and a cappella groups Perfect Third, Three Miles Lost and Hobartones, who, for the final act, all gathered on stage for a rendition of “Lean on Me” accompanied by President Gearan on the piano.