Hobart and William Smith Colleges - New Endowment for the Colleges’ History Department
The HWS Update
Podlesak Family

New Endowment for the Colleges’ History Department

Dennis and Gina Podlesak P’19 have established a new permanent endowment for faculty and student research as well as development opportunities in the Colleges’ History Department.

When their son Justin Podlesak ’19 graduated, the Podlesaks wanted to find a way to support future HWS students so that they could have the same rich, transformative and impactful educational experience that their son enjoyed as a history major.

“We were incredibly impressed with the History Department and the faculty at HWS,” says Gina, noting that their son often shared stories of memorable classroom discussions and brainstorming sessions with faculty such as Associate Professor of History Laura Free and Professor of History Derek Linton.

“Because of the low student-to-faculty ratio, Justin was able to work closely with his professors and develop sound critical reasoning, analytical and writing skills that serve him well in the workplace — and in life,” Dennis says. Justin, a product manager at Abryx, the biotech company where he interned during his summers at HWS, relies heavily upon these critical writing and analytical skills as he helps launch new products and submits others for FDA approval.

As former chairs of the Parents Executive Committee, the Podlesaks also cite the numerous faculty-student research and development presentations they witnessed during campus visits as inspiration for their gift.

“The faculty-student intellectual bonds nurtured at HWS are unique, as evidenced by the many impressive research and development collaborations that take place at the Colleges,” says Dennis. Through their endowment, the couple seeks to facilitate additional opportunities for faculty and students to pursue their particular passions, through Honors projects, research expenses, travel to conferences and student internships.

Gina recalls a quote from philosopher and essayist George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” noting that it “rings as true as ever in today’s world. We are so proud to be able to support the intellectual pursuits of the History Department faculty and students going forward.”

In the photo above, Matt Podlesak, Gina Podlesak P’19, Justin Podlesak ’19 and Dennis Podlesak P’19 celebrate Justin’s graduation on the Quad.