Twelve student-athletes from Hobart and William Smith Colleges were the guests of honor at their own Commencement event.
May 13, 2002 Geneva, N.Y. – Colleges President Mark D. Gearan sat at the baby grand piano playing “Pomp and Circumstance” as 12 Hobart and William Smith Colleges graduates entered the Chapel. Once they were seated, Gearan took his seat on the dais with other Colleges’ dignitaries as Chaplain Lesley Adams opened this special Commencement event for the 2002 graduates who had, due to post-season athletics competition, missed Commencement exercises yesterday. The Chapel was filled with family members and team mates, who cheered so enthusiastically for their friends that at times one could hardly hear the music.
Eight men and four women, members of crew and lacrosse teams who had been competing yesterday, received their diplomas today in a ceremony very much like the one they had missed on Sunday—complete with words of wisdom and praise from President Gearan and Provost and Dean of Faculty Patricia Stranahan, members of the Board of Trustees in the platform party, and a handshake and camera flash in their face as they received the coveted prize in the citation binder. They did not get to hear from Commencement speaker Mark Shields nor participate in the honorary degree presentations to four recipients, but otherwise the event was much like a Commencement ceremony and family and friends of the graduates seemed pleased to be able to share the experience with one another.
“We didn’t want our student-athletes to feel that participating in a sport, especially in exciting post-season contests, diminished their experience here,” said Gearan. “Holding a small graduation ceremony for them was, we hope, an appropriate and fun way to let them know they are and will always be part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges family.”
Families and friends enjoyed the ceremony and reception that followed at the President’s home. Some said they had never heard of a college doing this for their athletes.
At the end of the ceremony there was a short Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony held for Amy Bowen and Susanna Young, members of the William Smith lacrosse team, who had also been traveling with their teams during the recent Phi Beta Kappa induction.
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