In 1906, nurseryman and philanthropist William Smith chartered a new women’s college in Geneva, N.Y. Starting in December, William Smith College begins a celebration of its first 100 years, a journey that will not only trace its history through a century of progress, but also define its future as an institution committed to the liberal arts ideal.
Smith’s passion for progressive ideals, women's suffrage and universal education, live on in an institution that prepares men and women with one of the finest liberal arts educations in the United States: Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“We have a great deal to celebrate,” said Mara O’Laughlin, assistant vice president for the William Smith Centennial. “Not only is this our Centennial, but we are also marking 100 years of coordinate education with Hobart College. We are being reminded of the great contributions of past generations which surely inspire us to set even higher goals for the future.”
December 1906 marks the original charter that founded William Smith College. In recognition of this important milestone, the Colleges will begin Centennial celebrations on Founder’s Day, Dec. 9, 2006. At the event, 18 women will dress in period costume as the first-year class and as students from each decade of the College’s history, recalling the history of women’s rights in the United States and the important contributions that institutions of higher education have made to support an equal education.
The period of the Centennial celebration will last until September 2008, marking the 100th anniversary of William Smith’s first class. “During that time, the Colleges will focus on increasing the academic engagement and welfare of the entire student body,” said Debra DeMeis, Dean of William Smith College. “A series of speakers and events will be hosted on the Colleges’ campus, connecting students with the rich history and traditions of William Smith College and envisioning the future of the institution.”
Another key component of the celebration is also part of Hobart and William Smith’s Campaign for the Colleges. As part of this capital campaign, officially launched on September 21 at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, the alumnae of William Smith will establish and endow a new Centennial Center for Leadership. The Center will provide support for developing leadership skills through endowed fellowships and scholarships, workshops, lectures and seminars.
In addition, the Center will support the activities of an endowed Leadership Chair, a woman of prominence invited to share her unique perspective and experience with the entire student body and serve as an inspirational resource for the Colleges’ campus.
The Center will be housed in a handsomely renovated building on Geneva’s elegant South Main Street. William Smith alumnae, as well as Hobart alumni, have contributed more than $4.6 million thus far toward establishing and endowing the Center and providing for its future home.
After 100 years, William Smith College is setting its sights on the future, celebrating an outstanding history of liberal arts education and developing 21st century leaders.