April 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I write to you with updates as we continue in this time between times, with fervent hopes both that the stay-at-home orders will be safely lifted on schedule, but also that any further outbreaks of COVID-19 will be minor and controllable. Faculty, staff and students alike are eyeing the end of the term, no doubt with even more enthusiasm than usual, as we enter the last week of our forced experiment in providing classes using a remote learning model. I have been so impressed throughout the past two months with how everyone in our community has pulled together to get through this crisis. That was especially evident in the outpouring of support our students received from alums, parents, faculty and staff who donated to the Student Emergency Fund and the many who are contributing directly to financial aid through the Annual Fund – Thank you!

There have been many opportunities for our community to reflect on positivity amid this pandemic: admiring the ingenuity and flexibility of our faculty and staff as they pivoted in just one week to a brand new paradigm of instruction; seeing our students adapt with their trademark curiosity and resourcefulness to new models of collaboration; working with the local community to help provide meals to those most vulnerable; showing support for health-care workers and first responders; and learning of the bravery and resourcefulness of our alums and parents who are on the literal front lines of COVID-19. In many ways, the pandemic has underscored our values and inspired us all to be our best selves as we seek to help one another.

The Colleges held their spring trustees meeting last Friday, using Zoom. While it was sad not to be able to welcome our trustees to campus, we were able to conduct important business, including numerous matters of governance. Craig Stine ’81, P’17 was elected as the next Board Chair, starting July 1, and I have been working with him already on a number of projects where I have appreciated his perspective as an alumnus, parent and leader in the financial sector. Current Chair Thomas Bozzuto ’68, L.H.D. ’18 has served the Colleges for many years with integrity and deep loyalty to this alma mater, and I owe him a huge debt of personal thanks for staying on for a fourth year to help me transition to the presidency. Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82, Chip Carver ’81, and J.B. Robinson ’96 have agreed to continue in their roles as Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary respectively, and Albright Dwarka ’21 and Audrey Platt ’21 move into their roles as the senior student trustees. I am especially excited to announce that Dr. Margueritte Murphy, a friend to many of you from her years as a member of the Colleges’ faculty, will be joining the Board of Trustees to provide important expertise from her years in higher education. I am deeply thankful to all the returning and departing trustees for their service to the Colleges.

The Board also endorsed the strategic plan that I had presented to them, “Advancing Hobart and William Smith: The Strategic Direction,” together with all processes and procedures for the execution of the plan. Thanks to the many of you who sent me comments on the draft version of the plan, many of which influenced the final version that is now on our website. Even at times of short-run challenge, it is important to keep our view firmly on the Colleges’ future.

Meanwhile, the Colleges have convened several contingency planning task forces that are working in concert on a range of logistical and financial considerations for the fall semester and beyond. The goals are to open safely this fall and to assist with mitigation of the costs that the pandemic has caused our students and their families to incur, while also dealing responsibly with the financial implications that it has had and will continue to have, for the Colleges. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to consult with internal constituencies and external groups, including numerous peer colleges and universities in the region, state and nation, on how to proceed regarding reopening the campus. We will announce our plans when we have reached the right balance between gaining more information and certainty through waiting, and people’s need to know for planning purposes.

We also continue to weigh options for when to hold an in-person Commencement celebration for the Classes of 2020, and will make that announcement in early June. I’m very much looking forward to the moment when I can congratulate each member of these Classes in person for all they have accomplished in extraordinary circumstances.

My hope is that you and your loved ones stay safe and well during these challenging times. We will come out of the other side of this ordeal stronger for what we have learned about dealing with adversity, both personal and societal.


Joyce P. Jacobsen

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Page
Application for CARES Act Funding HEERF Student Aid Report Stories about the Pandemic

Messages to the Community

Planning Underway for our Fall Opening by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - May 28, 2020

Forward, Together by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - May 12, 2020

Using the CARES Act to Stay on Track for Graduation by John Young - May 12, 2020

Updates from Campus by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - April 27, 2020

An Update to Parents and Family Members of Admitted Students by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - April 27, 2020

Greetings from Human Resources by Sonya Williams - April 15, 2020

Grading for Spring 2020 Semester by Mary Coffey - March 30, 2020

Timeliness and Timelessness of an HWS Education by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 27, 2020

Introducing the HWS Student Emergency Fund by Julie Bazan ’93 and Rick Solomon ’75, P’10 - March 24, 2020

Staff Telework Resources by Sonya Williams - March 24, 2020

Message Regarding Commencement by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 20, 2020

Postponed: HWS Reunion by Bob O’Connor P’22 - March 19, 2020

Updates Regarding On-Campus Housing by Robb Flowers - March 19, 2020

Updates Regarding On-Campus Housing and Services by Robb Flowers - March 17, 2020

A Massive Natural Experiment by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 16, 2020

With Gratitude by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Face-to-Face Instruction Canceled by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 13, 2020

Follow-Up Note on Colleges’ Response to Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 11, 2020

From the Dean of Spiritual Engagement by The Reverend Nita C. Johnson Byrd - March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Information and Contingency Planning by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - March 10, 2020

An Update on the Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - March 5, 2020

Information on the Coronavirus by Mary Coffey and Robb Flowers - February 28, 2020


General questions and comments should be directed to:

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Questions regarding health issues should be directed to:

Hubbs Health Center
119 St. Clair Street
Geneva, NY 14456
Phone: 315-781-3600
Appt. Phone: 315-781-4530
Fax: 315-781-3802