Mark Gearan Speaks Out On USA Freedom Corps – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Mark Gearan Speaks Out On USA Freedom Corps

Former Peace Corps director comes out in support of keeping the service corps separated.

Feb. 11, 2002 GENEVA, N.Y.—Hobart and William Smith President Mark D. Gearan, former director of the Peace Corps and board member of the Corporation for National Service, has written a piece in the Boston Globe that commends President Bush’s call for Amercians to serve their country. But Gearan is firm in his belief that service organizations will only continue to thrive if they are allowed to maintain their separate identities. To allow the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and others to be swallowed up by a separate umbrella organization, the proposed USA Freedom Corps, would be a mistake, he says.

Gearan’s editorial called “The Promise of Citizen Service” appeared in the Feb. 10 Boston Globe, as well as the Feb. 14 Finger Lakes Times.

“The last attempt to consolidate government volunteer programs—ACTION, under President Nixon—failed, in part, because it blurred the distinctive nature of each agency's mission,” writes Gearan. “For the Peace Corps, the preservation of its unique character and mission—and its independence—is particularly important. Over the last four decades, it has earned a rare, nonpartisan space in our public life.

“However the USA Freedom Corps is ultimately defined, growing the Peace Corps and its Crisis Corps, as well as AmeriCorps, is a great idea. But the administration and Congress must retain the qualities and traditions that have made them so successful.”

The Corporation for National Service governs Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and other domestic service programs.

While serving as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Gearan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Additionally, he serves on the board of the National Campus Compact and as co-chair of the New York Campus Compact Executive Committee, an organization of college presidents who are committed to the goals of public service, civic engagement, and service learning.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are coordinate, private, liberal arts institutions located in Geneva, N.Y. The Colleges, which have a combined enrollment of 1,800, are noted also for an ambitious emphasis on international study and for their programs in community service. Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women share faculty, facilities, and curriculum but maintain separate dean's offices, athletics programs, student governments, and traditions.