At Convocation 2005, held Aug. 31 in Bristol Gym, Rosie K. Mauk, a longtime champion of volunteer service and director of AmeriCorps, marked the opening of the academic year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges by telling new students about the importance of volunteering.
Mauk, appointed by President Bush to head AmeriCorps in 2001, told the students of a call she’d received about 200 teachers-in-training, who’d been assigned last week to New Orleans, before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. She assured them that teaching positions would be found for them at other sites. Classes in New Orleans are unlikely to begin before December, she said.
Convocation is when the Hobart and William Smith Colleges community gathers to welcome the new classes of students and hear President Mark D. Gearan describe his vision for the academic year ahead.
During those remarks, Gearan cited his Harvard roommate, Hugh Hewitt, a conservative columnist and the author of a new book, “If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It,” as an example of how people can have widely differing views and remain close friends after 25 years.
In awarding The President's Medal, Gearan thanked Mauk and Dr. George N. Abraham ’59, an oncologist and researcher at the University of Rochester, for their “achievements and the distinction of your life’s work.”
Gearan also asked for a moment of silence in memory of Colleges’ benefactor William F. Scandling ’49, who died Aug. 22, and spoke briefly of his many contributions to HWS.
Provost Teresa Amott, in her first major address on campus, spoke of the “unimaginable suffering” in New Orleans, and reminded her audience that although “we are at a considerable remove” from much suffering and misery, “we really are part of it.” Quoting a favorite poet, William Carlos Williams, another physician devoted to the arts, she encouraged her audience to enjoy “what is found here.” She spoke of the HWS effort after the December tsunami, when more than $10,000 was raised; and promised that “we will find ways to help” the victims of the hurricane.
Associate Professor Nicholas Ruth offered the faculty response; student trustees Raul Nunez and Oluwayemisi Abogan welcomed the students, and Chaplain Lesley Adams offered the closing prayer. The processional and recessional were led by the Mohawk Valley Frasers Pipe Band.
Flags from 79 nations from which students hail, and to which students travel through off-campus programs, ringed the edge of Bristol gymnasium when the remnants of Hurricane Katrina forced the program to be moved indoors.
This past Saturday, more than 540 first-year and about two dozen transfer students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges spent the morning providing nearly 1,800 hours of service to agencies, churches, schools and organizations in the Finger Lakes.
“This is the sixth consecutive year incoming students took part in a service-learning project that provides teambuilding, service to the community and an introduction to civic responsibility and engagement that has become a hallmark of an HWS education,” according to Averell Bauder, director of public service at the Colleges.
The students boarded buses or set out on foot to nearly 40 sites from Geneva to Ovid, Canandaigua and Penn Yan. Projects included righting headstones at Washington Street Cemetery, painting at the Geneva Little League fields, assisting the South Seneca, West Street and Border City schools in preparing for the start of classes, working with a number of area churches and a wide variety of other projects with area organizations.
When they returned to campus, students met in groups with faculty and pondered the questions of how they can make a difference in the Geneva community during their time here, and whether there are inherent civic responsibilities when one receives a college education.