January 24, 2022

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

Welcome to the Hobart Bicentennial Year! We have an arc of celebrations planned in honor of Hobart’s status as one of the oldest colleges in the world, including being in the top 50 oldest in the United States. The banners are up on campus to mark the event, and an archival display including the original Hobart charter will be in the library starting Feb. 8. I invite you to view the Bicentennial website and to come celebrate with us at one or more of the various focal points of the year, including the Charter Day Celebration with former Hobart Deans on April 21, Commencement, Reunion, the Hobart Day Symposium on Sept. 12, and the all-community Gala Celebration on Oct. 22.

While intersession has been calm for the Colleges, with January-term occurring virtually and the winter sports teams back on campus engaging in their games and practices, many of us have been busy preparing for the spring semester. I recognize the toll this pandemic is taking on all of us. As an act of community and an expression of respect for the health and safety of one another, we must remain cautious and attentive in our own behavior. Vice President for Campus Life Becca Barile, Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah Kirk, and I have been constantly monitoring pandemic developments and fine-tuning our safety plans for campus operations, including requiring entry testing for all students and offering an on-campus booster clinic on Jan. 26. We were able to stay open all fall and run our athletics and recreational events, club meetings, community activities, lectures and recitals without major incident; we plan to do the same this spring.

There were a number of significant highlights in this academic year already, and we expect many more this spring. The Colleges are in the middle of what may end up being our best fundraising year ever, with several momentous gifts arriving last fall that will support the creation of a new professorship and scholarships, and that are inspiring curricular innovation in the sciences and humanities. On the athletics front, our fall teams had successful seasons and our winter teams are busy in theirs, including our Herons soccer team making it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament. We have hired head coaches for baseball, bowling and volleyball, and they are busy recruiting student-athletes for their first seasons starting in 2022-23. Our colleagues in Admissions are hard at work enrolling our next class, and I’m grateful to all members of our community who have engaged in this process, whether by connecting with prospective students, giving campus tours, or supporting our current students. Our new website, print materials and enhanced approach to social media, including the extremely popular “Yo! HWS Cribs” virtual campus housing tours, illustrate our commitment to telling our story in ways that are effective and engaging.   

We care about our students’ future and work every day to see them succeed in ways that are constantly evolving. We were thrilled last fall to announce the new minor in Aquatic Sciences that capitalizes on the campus’ long history of limnologic research, leverages our beautiful location on Seneca Lake, and is designed for students to better understand how water shapes the world. We are also launching a new minor in Music, Administration and Entrepreneurship that will give students another innovative way to think about their futures. Our inaugural class in the 4+1 Masters of Science in Management is halfway through their year, and this spring we will be accepting our first students into the related 3+1 program, allowing motivated students to complete both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. These new programs that our faculty create and support prove again why the Princeton Review consistently ranks our faculty as among the best in nation.

As students engage in their coursework, we also provide co-curricular support to equip them to understand and manage the challenges of modern life. As one example, Vice President for Campus Life Becca Barile and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Khuram Hussain continue to work together on a project to train students in developing effective practices for engaging in difficult conversations and implementing restorative justice approaches to some forms of campus conflicts, both essential for productive participation in wider campus life and the world beyond HWS. This semester, we will also extend this training to more of our faculty and staff.

I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom this spring as General Counsel Lou Guard and I will be co-teaching a course on the law and economics of higher education. Lou and I are using our in-progress book manuscript (on the “lawyerization” of higher education) as fodder for the course, so we’re going to be busy writing and teaching! But I’m also looking forward to getting back out on the road this spring and seeing more of the far-flung HWS community across the country.

I remain grateful to each and every one of you who, despite the rigors and uncertainty of the pandemic, have remained committed to our academic mission and to the future of our students. There is great momentum taking place in every corner of the Colleges and we have much to look forward to in the coming months.


Joyce P. Jacobsen