1 December 2021 • Alums Austin Hassett '69 establishes a planned gift to the Colleges


Thankful for his enlightening education, Austin Hassett ’69 gives back.

Austin Hassett ’69 was a young man looking to expand both his education and his world when he transferred to HWS after earning an associate’s degree. His time at HWS was so consequential that he has decided to give back by making a planned gift of at least $2 million to the Colleges’ permanent endowment.

“The education I received from Hobart gave me personal and economic success,” says Hassett, who graduated with a bachelor of arts in economics, went on to earn a master of science degree in accounting and finance at Syracuse University, and enjoyed a long career as a financial analyst/programmer at several Wall Street firms. “I credit [Hobart and William Smith] with the highest aspiration of education, which is to teach people how to think, not what to think. It was glorious and fulfilled me in a way I didn’t really think was possible.”

Hassett transferred to HWS after earning a degree in engineering and physics at Broome Technical Community College (now SUNY Broome Community College) in Binghamton, N.Y. At the time, he says, “I was sort of at loose ends concerning a direction in life. I was looking for the whole experience—a four-year liberal arts/residential experience.”

Recalling meeting with John S. Witte, then director of admissions, who accepted him on a conditional basis even though “my grades weren’t wonderful,” he believes his time at HWS was extremely valuable. “It’s the first education experience that enlightened me and opened my mind,” he says. “It was what I was seeking all along.”

Among the highlights of his education, he says, the Western Civilization courses “were inspiring for me. They helped develop me into a knowledgeable and grounded individual.”

Hassett and his wife now live on the eastern shore of Keuka Lake after residing, most recently, in Yonkers, N.Y., for 20 years. 

“Austin, along with his wife, Alice Murphey, have been incredibly supportive of HWS over many years,” says Vice President for Advancement Bob O’Connor P’22, P’23. “This bequest reaffirms his commitment to the mission of the Colleges and demonstrates a strong belief in the future of HWS. With this bequest, Austin’s legacy will support many generations of HWS students, and we are deeply grateful for this thoughtful and meaningful gift.”