September 27, 2021

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I write after a wonderful weekend in which we welcomed family members and alums to campus to celebrate Homecoming and Family Weekend. The weather cooperated fully, so we were able to hold nearly every gathering outside to ensure that events were conducted with the health and wellbeing of the community in mind. I was particularly proud to see the outstanding work of our students on display at the Student Research Symposium, to watch as students gave voice to parts of the African American history of Geneva through the theatrical production “From Beyond: Geneva’s Unheard Voices,” and to cheer as our student athletes competed with success and tenacity in a number of sporting competitions. We were also happy to welcome back former lacrosse players who competed in the alumni and alumnae games, to celebrate the Hobart lacrosse banquet for the first time in two years, and to seek the advice of dedicated volunteers through meetings of the Statesmen Athletic Association Board of Directors and the Parent’s Executive Committee. These were just some of the many ways our community shone this weekend and I was proud to witness so much activity and vitality on campus. Thank you to all the staff, faculty and students who made this weekend possible.

Our Faculty
Recently we heard from The Princeton Review that it ranks Hobart and William Smith in the top group of 21 colleges in the nation for best facultyThe Princeton Review writes that the “secret sauce” of HWS comes from the faculty, and I agree. As I’ve reflected on what this truly means and at the risk of overgeneralizing, there are two qualities that define Hobart and William Smith faculty. First, they are passionate about their subject matters – whether that is Middle Eastern politics or invasive species – and have devoted themselves to producing scholarship and furthering knowledge in their fields. They then take this passion into the classroom, leading to the second quality that defines our faculty: as committed as they are to their fields of study, they are just as dedicated to the development of students, providing a level of mentorship and support to students that is unusually thorough and sincere. This is a somewhat rare blend of attributes that makes the student experience here remarkable. I am grateful to the faculty for their continued contributions in their fields, and for their determination and curiosity.

As our faculty and students continue their research and studies, members of the staff and administration remain focused on managing COVID-19 so that we can provide as open an experience on campus as is safe. Given the high rates of infection in the county and nation, we are continuing to do regular surveillance testing of our students and are in compliance with the requirements of the NY HERO Act regarding airborne infectious diseases. As of this morning, we have 12 students in isolation or quarantine, and our number of new infections has been steadily decreasing from week to week. We continue to encourage vaccination for all of our community members: our next Pfizer clinic is on Sept. 27 in the Field House and is for those receiving their first, second or booster shot. Additionally, flu clinics, open to anyone in the HWS community and free with an insurance card, are available Oct. 5, 7 and 19 from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Vandervort Room, and Oct. 22 from 1 – 4 p.m. in Bartlett Theatre.

Projects Underway
With the semester now fully underway, we look to the future months and years with great anticipation. The new Master of Science in Management is proceeding with its inaugural cohort of 14 students in place. Our internationally ranked Debate Team is continuing its winning streak and is participating in a series of upcoming competitions. We are moving forward on adding the first six of the 12 planned sports additions that will begin next academic year. We have launched the first phase of the redesigned HWS website as well as new print materials for Admissions in keeping with our new overall design. Construction for the expanded HWS Rowing Center is on schedule (with great thanks to the many donors who have made this possible), while final planning is underway for the much-anticipated renovation of the Intercultural Affairs House. Preparation is also occurring for the Hobart Bicentennial in 2022 under the capable direction of Director of Alumni and Alumnae Relations Chevy DeVaney ’95, P’21, P’23 and Dean of Hobart College and Professor of Philosophy Scott Brophy ’78, P’12.

Memorial Service for Veronica Ashby ’25
For those in the area, I ask that you join me and the rest of the campus community on Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. on the Quad near St. John’s Chapel for a remembrance of Veronica Ashby ’25. Chaplain Nita Byrd will lead this event that gives us the opportunity to gather in community to mourn Veronica’s untimely passing on Sept. 10 as a result of a car accident. Now, and at all times, this is a community of care with systems of support in place (see our resources list below). Let us all look out for one another, and when we are feeling discouraged or sad, reach out for mutual support.


Joyce P. Jacobsen


  • Counselors from the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness, located at 91 St. Clair St., are available 24 hours a day by calling Campus Safety at (315)-781-3000.
  • Chaplain Nita Byrd and Director of the Abbe Center Julianne Miller are available at the Office of Spiritual Engagement at (315) 781-3671 and can be reached 24 hours a day by calling Campus Safety at (315)-781-3000. Individuals may reach the Rev. Nita Byrd’s confidential voicemail at 315-781-3670.
  • The Hobart Deans (315-781-3300), the William Smith Deans (315-781-3467) and the Office of Campus Life (315-781-3900) are located in Smith Hall and can be reached via phone for appointments.
  • On-call professional Student Engagement staff can be reached by calling Campus Safety at (315) 781-3000.
  • The Employee Assistance Program provides faculty and staff with immediate and free access to mental health professionals by calling (800) 327-2255.