The Presidential Inauguration of Dr. Gregory J. Vincent ’83 as the 27th president of Hobart College and the 16th of William Smith College was recently featured in a front-page article in the Finger Lakes Times.
The article, “Greg Vincent inaugurated as HWS president,” included excerpts of Vincent’s inaugural address and notes the Colleges’ legacy of taking bold chances. The piece appeared in the Sunday, Oct. 29 edition.
For those who want to express their wishes to Vincent as he begins his tenure, congratulatory messages are being compiled into a commemorative album. Click here to submit a message. To watch the HWS presidential inauguration history video, click here.
The full article from the Finger Lakes Times is as follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Greg Vincent inaugurated as HWS president
Steve Buchiere • Oct. 29, 2017
GENEVA — Greg Vincent understood the significance of the moment.
In a ceremony rich in tradition at one of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges, Vincent had just been installed as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
And it happened at a place that 89 years ago refused to allow one of its first-year students to live on campus for just one reason.
He was black.
Now, here he was at the podium on Friday afternoon in the awe-inspiring and packed sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church as the first black president of HWS, a place where he earned his undergraduate degree and which he believes continues to break new ground.
Vincent reflected on the man who broke ground for him and other African-American students, Alger Adams, who came to Geneva on a Hobart scholarship in 1928 from Omaha, Neb., only to discover the school wouldn’t let him live on campus because of the color of his skin.
That didn’t deter him, Vincent recalled.
Adams took on a triple major in Greek, English and psychology, while serving as an assistant in the psychology department, publishing his undergraduate research in the American Journal of Psychology. And to support himself, he washed dishes in area restaurants and worked odd jobs. He also got support from the city’s African-American community “which welcomed him with open arms,” Vincent said.
Adams graduated magna cum laude and would become an Episcopal clergyman and editor and publisher of the Westchester County Press.
“He literally changed the course of history at the Colleges and made it possible for me, 51 years later (1979) to enroll at Hobart.”
And while Vincent may be the first African-American president in the Colleges’ history, it was his experience, smarts and vision that allowed him to rise above above an impressive pool of candidates vying to succeed former President Mark Gearan, said Board of Trustee members.
Vincent took over from Gearan — who took part in the inauguration as president emeritus — in July.
Board President Tom Bozzuto said it’s a “time of increasing complexity in higher education. Competition for students and philanthropic dollars has never been more intense.”
Coupled with that, said Bozzuto, is the need in all sectors for “well-educated” graduates.
With Vincent at the helm, said Bozzuto, Hobart and William Smith is well-positioned to take on that challenge, thanks to the foundation built under Gearan, who Vincent said led HWS on a period of “unprecedented growth” over his 18-year tenure.
“There is no one better to navigate this future than Greg Vincent,” Bozzuto said.
The Board of Trustees president said HWS must be ready to embrace change, and that he and fellow board members, who unanimously selected Vincent in April, are “100 percent behind him.”
He also has the backing of Clarence Butler, a former dean at Hobart who mentored Vincent, a native of Brooklyn, through his four years.
Butler said he was impressed from the beginning with Vincent, and knew big things were ahead for him.
In the years since Vincent’s graduation, the two have continued to share a friendship. And now he was able to see his former student return to lead his alma mater.
“Greg Vincent has made his former dean proud,” said Butler, who gave the new HWS president a long embrace.
Vincent in return called Butler a “confidant, mentor and now a dear friend.”
He said HWS, despite its small size, has a “strong history of being gutsy, of graduating men and women who go on to do bold and big things. Of taking action that is ahead of the times. Of punching above our weight class to succeed in the face of formidable odds.”
Vincent touched several times on the Colleges’ willingness to be bold.
Hobart shaped his life, encouraging him — and countless other graduates — to take bold steps.
“It is this bold environment that shaped me, that enabled me to go to law school and to successfully argue major civil rights cases before the Ohio Supreme Court,” said Vincent. “It is this bold environment that gave me the courage to go to graduate school and earn a doctorate, become a professor and leader in higher education and now a college president.”
Vincent is a national expert on civil rights, social justice and campus culture, and before returning to HWS, served at the University of Texas at Austin as vice president for diversity and community engagement and as a professor of law.
And while Vincent touched on HWS’ illustrious past, he also took at aim at the future of the Colleges.
“In the coming year, I intend to focus on four pillars of effort that I strongly believe will give us the additional resources and motivation necessary to take our place among the best colleges in the country,” he said.
“First, we must ensure that the student experience is multi-faceted, relevant and comprehensive. Second, we must deepen engagement within and among key constituent groups, ensuring that all members of the broad HWS community and beyond understand, experience and can leverage the return on investment of a Hobart and William Smith education.
Third, we must be market smart and mission driven, allowing us to dominate the liberal arts market. Fourth, we must claim inclusive excellence and diversity as a key strategic priority.”
During his address, Vincent gave acknowledgements to many, and gave special accolades to his parents, who he said gave him “three priceless gifts: unconditional love, a love of reading and a church home.”
Cyril and Gloria Vincent were in the audience to watch their son’s inauguration, as were Vincent’s wife, Kim, and their children. Also attending were his sister Leslie and cousin Virginia.