Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Celebrate Hobart’s 200th in 2022
The HWS Update
Campus 399

Celebrate Hobart’s 200th in 2022

A yearlong celebration — honoring the 1822 founding of Hobart College and the two-century history of Hobart and William Smith — begins in 2022.

Bishop John Henry Hobart

Bishop John Henry Hobart

“There are fewer than 75 colleges and universities in the country that have stood longer than we have,” says Hobart College Dean and Professor of Philosophy Scott Brophy ’78, P’12.

Brophy and Director of Alumni and Alumnae Relations Chevanne DeVaney ’95, P’21, P’23 are chairing the Hobart Bicentennial Committee, which convenes this summer to plan the 2022 series of celebrations.

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the College by Bishop John Henry Hobart, the yearlong festivities will begin in January 2022 with a schedule of special events, guest speakers and institutional awards, culminating in October 2022 with a gala on campus.

“We have an incredible year planned for HWS to look back on the history that has led us here and to look ahead to our exciting future,” says DeVaney. “As we celebrate the institution and the generations of students and graduates, faculty and staff, administrators and benefactors that have made it so special, the Bicentennial will let us salute our past achievements, reflect on our values and traditions, and launch into our next two hundred years with enthusiasm and purpose.”

“Through the Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, two global pandemics,  revolutionary advances in technology, and two centuries of social change, we have provided generations of students a robust liberal arts education, one that has helped our graduates develop the depth of knowledge and analytic acuity to succeed in virtually all walks of life — indeed, to be leaders in all walks of life. Between this institutional longevity, our continuing impact on students’ lives, and our vision for the future, we have a lot to celebrate,” Brophy says.

In the months between the Bicentennial’s January launch and October gala, a series of academic and social events for the HWS community — held both on and off campus, in-person and virtually — will recognize the historic milestone. Details will appear on the HWS website later this year.

About the founding of Hobart College

When Bishop John Henry Hobart visited Geneva in 1818, part of his tour of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, he found a thriving community with a population of 1,500, a hotel, municipal water system, post office, public school, library, newspaper and an active cultural life. Impressed with Geneva’s development and the beauty of its surroundings, Bishop Hobart believed that Geneva, with its strategic location, would be an ideal place to establish an institution, not only of learning but also for religious worship and instruction to aid the Church and its Ministry.

Bishop Hobart met with Trustees of Geneva Academy to outline his vision. The Academy had been organized in 1796 and granted a charter in 1813. The Bishop proposed to use the corporate foundation of the Academy, if the Trustees would petition for a college charter. Also required was the construction of a new building for the Academy. The next morning the Bishop met with a few of the Trustees to determine a location for the proposed college. Bishop Hobart chose the South Main Street site for its lake view and its proximity to the community. In 1821, with donations from the citizens of Geneva, the construction of Geneva Hall began on this site. On April 10, 1822, a provisional college charter was granted and, after meeting certain conditions of the provisional charter, a permanent charter for Geneva College was received on Feb. 8, 1825. Geneva College became Hobart Free College in 1852 and Hobart College in 1860.