January 23, 2020

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I was happy to see students and faculty back on campus this week, ready for the start of the spring semester. We have made great strides together over the past seven months as I experienced my first fall semester on campus, a semester that had many high points as we’ve worked together to strengthen Hobart and William Smith. Today it gives me great pleasure to announce two important leadership appointments at the Colleges.

Starting on June 1, Dr. Khuram Hussain, the current Dean of Hobart College and Associate Professor of Education, will take on the role of Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Reporting directly to me and sitting on Senior Staff, Khuram will serve as the Colleges’ chief diversity strategist. The Offices of Intercultural Affairs, Academic Opportunity Programs and International Students will report to him.

I’ve asked Dr. Scott Brophy ’78, P’12, Professor of Philosophy and Pre-Law Adviser for the Colleges, to serve as Dean of Hobart College. A graduate of Hobart and the parent of a William Smith alumna, Scott will be the 16th Dean of Hobart College and only the third alumnus to hold the position. In his new role, which starts on June 1, Scott will provide academic and personal advising to students while also developing and executing strategies and initiatives to increase student success.

I’m excited that with these moves, we have put the Colleges’ leadership into place for the coming year with Dr. Mary Coffey as Provost and Dean of Faculty; Chevy DeVaney ’95, P’21, P’23 leading the charge as the Director of Alumni and Alumnae Relations; and Deb Steward, Brian Miller and Sally Scatton P’02, P’06 stepping up in Athletics to form the leadership for that important department. We have now resolved all interim and unfilled leadership positions, and clarified our administrative structures moving forward.

As I continue on my #ExploreHWS journey for the academic year, I finished visiting all of our buildings and outdoor areas and have shifted to learning more about the people and activities that populate them. Every day I learn something new and interesting about the Colleges, including quite a lot about past HWS nuggets from the fall’s Pulteney Street Survey. The next PSS, hitting newsstands in March, also promises to be highly educational, featuring stories about the Seneca land on which the Colleges are built and the 50th anniversary of the Seneca Review. I have attended many events on campus, including a number of great talks by notable speakers, a debate tournament, the Koshare Dance Collective concert, the First-Year Seminar Symposium, art displays, musical offerings, and dance and theater productions. Just this week, I heard John Grotzinger ’79, Sc.D. ’13 talk about the Mars Rover missions and he also taped a podcast with me that we’ll be releasing soon. I’m also continuing to visit alumni, alumnae, parents, students and friends around the country, having just returned from Southern California, heading to Florida next week, and in February and March will be going to receptions in Saratoga, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston.

Watching our fall and winter sports teams prevail across a wide range of contests has been truly exciting. A particular highlight in the fall was attending the NCAA Women’s Soccer Final Four tournament in Greensboro, where our 21-2-1 Herons valiantly battled to come in second in the nation, falling by the narrowest of margins in the title game. Hobart Football was outstanding, winning the New York State Bowl Championship and finishing with a 9-2 overall record. Statesmen Soccer finished 14-5-2 and won the Liberty League championship. The winter sports teams have also been great fun to watch with multiple teams compiling winning records to date. I’m looking forward to the start of spring season sports, including the openers for lacrosse on Feb. 8 (Hobart) and Feb. 26 (William Smith).

I also look forward to sharing some initiatives with you in the weeks to come. We’ll be going public soon with the results from the fight song contest that we ran last semester, as well as announcing this year’s Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients. We’ll also be sharing the draft of the strategic plan for the Colleges and asking for feedback before we finalize the plan by the end of the semester. But even without a fully ratified strategic plan, we’re already making great progress on numerous fronts: applications to the Colleges are up; donations to the annual fund, number of donors, and overall gifts are up, including a significant donation of photography; and we have made substantial steps toward improved cost containment and new revenue generation.

So off we go into another semester of exploration, challenge and inquiry. My best wishes for a great spring, and don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts about any matter regarding the Colleges.


Joyce P. Jacobsen