On the eve of graduation, Hobart Dean and Professor of Philosophy Eugen Baer P’95, P’97 delivered the keynote Baccalaureate address, reflecting on philosophical teachings from across the globe that inform the core principles of citizenship.
“The mystery that we are to ourselves incomprehensible is the most inclusive bond of our solidarity with all sentient beings. It is ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ that holds us all together,” said Baer, who retires this spring after 47 years of service to the Colleges and recently receiving the Hobart Medal of Excellence. “You have to remain in these questions that you cannot answer. You have to stay woke.”
As Baer explains, the contemporary idiom ‘stay woke’ is a call to action in remaining aware and vigilant against injustice in its many forms throughout the world. “There are many things you need to be watchful about as you step into the future…To stay woke, we have to keep the windows of our mind wide open.”
A tradition at the Colleges for more than 180 years, the Baccalaureate ceremony on Saturday united the Classes of 2018 and their families for reflection, in celebration of their accomplishments and in anticipation of those yet to come. Held at the historic Trinity Church on South Main Street, the ceremony also included remarks from Chaplain Maurice Charles and Director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life Julianne Miller. The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester and HWS Trustee, delivered a prayer. Interim Provost DeWayne Lucas shared a prayer for the Classes of 2018, written by the Rev. Lesley M. Adams D.D.’15, retired HWS Chaplain.
The afternoon service also welcomed three student speakers, who chose religious texts that spoke to their experiences. Rotimi Adeoye ’18 described how faith played a role in his personal development. “Living in a community with people who are so different but at the same time so similar has made my time here not only beneficial, but like many of you could say, a spiritual experience,” said Adeoye, who will begin his career at advertising firm DSPolitical this summer. “I know that ideas I learned in the Christian faith and here at Hobart and William Smith have taught me about learning in unity and what it is to be people who can impact their own communities.”
Tzipora Glaser ’18 described how community service experiences at the Colleges provided additional clarity in solidifying her goals. “Pursuing justice means proactively pursuing a life of consequence,” said Glaser, who will enter the Colleges’ Master of Arts in Teaching program in the fall. “To me, this really exemplifies how I and so many of my peers have taken advantage of the multitude of opportunities at HWS— opportunities that became circumstances for learning about the world and informing an identity grounded in values.”
Rio Schmidt ’18 said his decision to transfer to HWS reflected an enduring commitment to trust fate and principles. “My heart led me here to Hobart and William Smith and this has been the best place for me,” said Schmidt, who will pursue graduate school opportunities to earn a M.F.A. in studio art following a summer as a church camp counselor.
The service also included performances from HWS Chorale, directed by Professor of Music Bob Cowles, and concluded with the “Sending Forth” by William Smith Dean Lisa Kaenzig P’22 and Baer.
“To be sure,” Baer said, “no one can ever leave this place in an absolute sense. Too many formative experiences have taken shape here.”