For many student-athletes, participating in a spring sport in one’s senior year means that they will miss their Commencement festivities. But that’s not the case at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where it has become a tradition to hold a “mini commencement,” as it is dubbed on campus, a day or two following the traditional ceremony, when athletic competitions extend beyond the academic calendar.
Mini Commencement 2006 was held Monday morning, May 15, for nine student-athletes from the Hobart and William Smith crew teams who were competing over the weekend at the ECAC championships in Worcester, Mass. The ceremony held in St. John’s Chapel began and ended with “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar, played on a grand piano by HWS President Mark D. Gearan, who initiated the “mini commencement” tradition at Hobart and William Smith Colleges several years ago.
Provost Teresa Amott, who joined the Colleges last summer, participated in her first mini commencement and delivered the mini commencement address. “It came to me that in this very different commencement exercise, I should turn the commencement speech upside down and recognize you, the graduates, as the ones with the wisdom to share,” began Amott calling on two lessons, one of discipline and the other of community that the student-athletes embody.
“There is a discipline of selflessness in that sport … The lesson of community and loyalty in giving up individual achievement for the whole. We are grateful for your embodiment of these core values of this institution,” Amott said.
The student-athletes, their families and teammates who filled the chapel expressed gratitude following the ceremony.
“It was a perfect send off,” said Susan Tarrant of Cleverdale, N.Y. “Today’s ceremony was important to me because I was able to attend a really important regatta for William Smith crew and not worry about missing graduation. It was very nice for the Colleges to recognize this and make it possible for us to graduate at a later date. I really enjoyed the ceremony.”
President Gearan graciously accepted many words of thanks from the student-athletes and their families.
“We didn’t want our student-athletes to feel that participating in a sport, especially in exciting postseason 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.”
Hobart graduates included John-Michael Chadonic of New York City, public policy studies; Timothy P. Faxon of Ridgefield, Conn., media and society; Daniel A. Gilbert of Rochester, N.Y., media and society; and Robert G. Loring of Duxbury, Mass., history.
William Smith graduates included Rebecca E. Gutwin of Williston, Vt., mathematics, magna cum laude; Frances E. Parsons of Liverpool, N.Y., critical social studies, magna cum laude; Kathryn R. Priest of Stamford, Conn., art history; Tarrant, art history; and Edwina K. Wilson of Westport, Conn., history and international relations.