Hobart and William Smith Commencement exercises for the Classes of 2020 is tentatively scheduled to be held in-person and award the institution’s highest honor to three individuals whose profound personal and professional achievements intersect with critical aspects of the Colleges’ history. On Sunday, June 6, 2021, HWS will present honorary doctorates to the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Bishop Michael B. Curry ’75, who will deliver the 2020 Commencement address; philanthropist and advocate for increased female leadership Margaret “Peggy” Bokan Greenawalt ’66; and artist, activist and Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site G. Peter Jemison.
“As Hobart and William Smith Colleges approach the Hobart bicentennial in 2022 and the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment in 2020, we are taking stock of our history and the foundations — literal and figurative — from which the Colleges have emerged,” says President Joyce P. Jacobsen. “In honoring these esteemed recipients and their considerable contributions to their fields, to their communities and to Hobart and William Smith, we also wish to honor Hobart’s Episcopal heritage, William Smith’s continued commitment to leadership and the Colleges’ overall dedication to inclusion, and the provenance of the land the Colleges call home.”
The Most Rev. Bishop Michael B. Curry ’75, the first African American to serve as Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, is known for his “high-energy, evangelical” style (Washington Post), perhaps most famously displayed in his 2018 address at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. As the church’s leader, Curry has been an advocate for an inclusive, authentic ministry committed to racial reconciliation, equal justice and equal opportunity. The author of several books, including Songs My Grandma Sang and The Power of Love, Curry has led churches in Winston-Salem, N.C., Lincoln Heights, Ohio, and Baltimore, Md. In 2000, he was elected 11th bishop of North Carolina. In November 2015, he was elected to the position of presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Curry earned a degree in religious studies from Hobart, where he completed Honors and was a member of the Hobart Student Association. He went on to earn a master’s of divinity from Yale Divinity School. In 2016, he returned to HWS to participate in the President’s Forum and receive the Hobart Medal of Excellence, the Hobart College Alumni Association’s highest honor.
Margaret “Peggy” Bokan Greenawalt ’66 is a noted philanthropist devoted to supporting education, the arts, and the advancement of women in leadership roles. She rose through the hierarchy of the finance industry, holding leadership positions at Citibank, Citicorp and Monchik-Weber. She has served on the boards of directors for various not for profit organizations including: The White House project, focused on increasing female representation in government, the Center for Bioethics at University of Pennsylvania, the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, Germantown Friends School, Breakthrough (formerly Summerbridge), the Wilma Theatre, the Philadelphia International Theater Festival for Children, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and other causes and non-profits. A dedicated alumna, she has hosted and attended events for HWS graduates and generously supported the William Smith Centennial Fund and the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts. In 2015, she established the Margaret Greenawalt ’66 Annual Scholarship, which pays off the student loan debt of a William Smith graduate who intends to pursue a career in finance and who has completed an internship on Wall Street. Greenawalt established the scholarship to encourage more women to go into finance by ensuring recipients can begin their careers free of educational debt. In 2018, to amplify the impact of her gift, she changed the criteria to support two students each year. Greenawalt graduated from William Smith College with a degree in economics. As a student, she was a member of the ski and swimming teams, the Newman Club, Hai Timiai and William Smith Congress. She later earned a master’s in business administration with a focus on finance and marketing from Columbia Graduate School of Business.
G. Peter Jemison is a fine artist, a member of the Heron Clan of the Seneca Nation and a leading authority on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history. A classically trained painter, Jemison works in a range of media — paint, printmaking, lithography, woodcuts and film — exploring political and social subjects as well as his own relationship with the natural world. His work appears in museum collections internationally, including at the British Museum, Museum of Mankind in London, England, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, N.Y., and the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, N.M. As the historic site manager of the 569-acre Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, N.Y., the original site of a 17th-century Seneca town, Jemison oversees a wide range of resources and programs that tell the story of Haudenosaunee contributions to agriculture, art, culture and government. The site includes interactive multimedia exhibits, gardens and trails, a longhouse, and the Seneca Art & Culture Center, where Jemison’s film, Iroquois Creation Story, is screened at the Orientation Theater. A lifelong advocate for Native American rights, Jemison has served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute’s Native American Museum Training Program and to the National Endowment for the Arts. He serves on the board of trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian. In 2009, he offered a blessing before the exhibition lacrosse game held at HWS during the Native American Conference. He also participated in a 2019 campus discussion about the history and future of Hobart traditions and the relationship between the Colleges and Indigenous communities. Jemison studied at the University of Siena in Siena, Italy, and earned a bachelor’s in art education from Buffalo State College in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the State University of New York.
View a full list of recipients of honorary degrees from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.