1 May 2024 • AlumsService Peace Corps Director Spahn to Deliver HWS Commencement Address

Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn will give the keynote address at Commencement 2024.

Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. Learn more about Commencement. 

Carol Spahn, a prominent volunteer service advocate and director of the Peace Corps, will deliver the annual Commencement address to graduates, their families and the HWS community this spring. She will also be awarded an honorary degree.

Spahn has been a leading voice for the transformational power of volunteer service — both for individuals and for locally-led, grassroots development. Since serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania shortly after the fall of communism, she has supported underserved communities around the world through her various leadership roles at private and public sector organizations and now back at the Peace Corps where she leads the agency in its mission to advance world peace and friendship.

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, more than 240,000 Volunteers have served in 144 countries worldwide. To date, approximately 250 HWS alumni have served as Peace Corps volunteers, a key factor in HWS’ seventh consecutive top-five national ranking for service.

“Carol Spahn’s impressive career embodies the ideals of service and cross-cultural engagement that are at the heart of Hobart and William Smith’s mission,” says President Mark D. Gearan, who served as the 14th Director of the Peace Corps. “For more than 25 years, Carol’s wide-ranging service has intersected with vital issues for communities around the world, from local economic development and public health initiatives to women’s empowerment. I look forward to welcoming her to campus for our Commencement ceremonies.”

Beyond HWS’ history of volunteerism with the Peace Corps, community engagement and service learning are longstanding pillars of social and academic life on campus. All HWS students participate in service projects, both locally and in communities around the world, contributing more than 80,000 hours of community service annually. 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the Days of Service program.

The Commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 19. Learn more about Commencement.

Additional honorary degree recipients will be announced later this semester. 

A hi-res photo of Director Carol Spahn is available here