This summer, Hobart and William Smith Colleges took possession of approximately 27 acres adjacent to the arts campus at Houghton House.
Funded through a donation from HWS Trustee Edward R. Cooper ’86, P’16 and Robin Savits Cooper ’87, P’16, the acquisition of undeveloped land provides HWS with a new teaching and learning resource, as well as outdoor recreation for the Colleges’ community and the public. In honor of their gift, the land will now be known as Coopers’ Woods.
“Between the woods, the creek running through and all the flora and fauna living there, these acres have great potential for pedagogical and research activities for our students and faculty,” says President Joyce P. Jacobsen. “I am so grateful to Ed and Robin for their tremendous gift in support of research. Coopers’ Woods will provide ample field research opportunities across a wide range of disciplines and will serve as a carbon sink with tree planting and maintenance projects to support our sustainability goals. We are proud to serve as stewards of this beautiful site.”
“We feel a deep sense of responsibility for supporting the institution and have always tried our best to be active and involved alums, be that volunteering our time or being able to provide the resources to help the Colleges in their mission,” say the Coopers. “Both of us have a great love and affection for HWS and for Geneva, as does our family, and that was one of the prime motivations for us to provide the resources to be able to acquire the property. It also seemed to dovetail nicely with several of the wants and needs of the Colleges, particularly from an educational standpoint, furthering the efforts within the sciences. And it also provides an opportunity for a general enjoyment of the property by HWS and the local community.”
The acreage spans from Jay Street to the Glenwood Cemetery, and from the west edge of the HWS arts campus to the residential neighborhood on Slosson Road. It’s hoped that the land may function similarly to the Henry Hanley Biological Field Preserve.
Professor of Biology Meghan Brown plans to incorporate the new property as a field site into her ecology course. The class of mostly biology majors who are sophomores and juniors will use the site “to explore how organisms interact with each other and their physical environment,” Brown explains. “Students will present their findings (remotely) with senior Environmental Studies students who will be generating a document about the property and how we might manage it.”
The carbon sequestered annually on this land will count toward offsetting the Colleges’ annual emissions, supporting the institution’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2025.
Two small parcels with frontage on Slosson Road, totaling roughly one acre, will be sold; proceeds from that sale will support the endowment established with proceeds from the sale of Fribolin Farm to support sustainability-related initiatives on campus.