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 Daily Messenger article.
The article, “‘This bold place’: Hobart and William Smith welcome new president,” included quotes from Vincent’s inaugural address as well as the Colleges’ bold legacy. The Canandaigua-based paper is part of Messenger Post Media.
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 Daily Messenger is below.
‘This bold place’: Hobart and William Smith welcome new president
Melody Burri • Oct. 27, 2017
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent is inaugurated officially as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges
GENEVA — It was the perfect backdrop for Hobart and William Smith Colleges, steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition and academic excellence, to formally install a new president.
Under the dramatic vaulted ceilings and sparkling stained glass of Trinity Episcopal Church, Hobart and William Smith Friday celebrated the inauguration of Dr. Gregory J. Vincent as the 27th president of Hobart College and the 16th of William Smith College.
The event marks the ceremonial transition of leadership, which was announced in late April. Vincent, a member of the HWS Class of 1983, officially began his first day as HWS president on July 17.
Board of Trustees Chair Thomas S. Bozzuto called Vincent “a proud and loyal alumnus.”
“President Vincent has dedicated his life to creating and providing opportunities that ensure the success of students,” said Bozzuto, “and now, as president of Hobart and William Smith, has accepted the charge of guiding our mission to prepare students to lead lives of consequence.”
Vincent acknowledged members of the Board of Trustees, President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan, faculty, staff, administrators and coaches, alumni and alumnae, delegates from other colleges and universities, community leaders, and parents.
“I am grateful to the parents … who send their children to be educated on the shores of Seneca Lake and who are among the Colleges’ most ardent supporters,” he said.
Vincent noted that every student group on campus, “from the Debate Team to Sankofa” had sent a representative to the inauguration.
“In my first months at the Colleges, I have found our students to be creative, ambitious and engaged,” he said. “I am honored to serve as president of young men and women so committed to community and so passionate for the future.”
Beyond his general greetings, Vincent told the stories of others who had gone before him, breaking new ground and charting new territory. He credited his parents, Cyril and Gloria Vincent, who gave him three priceless gifts: unconditional love, a love of reading, and a church home.
And Vincent spoke about his new family in academia.
“Hobart and William Smith have a history of taking chances and being bold,” he said. “Led by our faculty, Hobart and William Smith were among the first in the nation to offer programs in women’s studies, African American studies and LGBT studies.
“We have a strong history of being gutsy, of graduating men and women who go on to do bold and big things,” said Vincent. “Of taking action that is ahead of the times. Of punching above our weight class to succeed in the face of formidable odds.”
It was that bold environment that shaped him, Vincent said, and enabled him to go to law school and successfully argue major civil rights cases before the Ohio Supreme Court.
“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,” he said.
Vincent emphasized four “pillars of effort” that will get major focus in the coming year.
“First, we must ensure that the student experience is multi-faceted, relevant and comprehensive,” he said. “Second, we must deepen engagement within and among key constituent groups, ensuring that all … 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,” said Vincent. “Fourth, we must claim inclusive excellence and diversity as a key strategic priority.”
One of the most poignant moments of the inauguration came when Vincent recounted the experiences of the Reverend Dr. Alger L. Adams, who became the first black man to receive a degree from Hobart, graduating magna cum laude and named to Phi Beta Kappa.
When Adams arrived in Geneva in 1928, Vincent said, he discovered that Hobart College, which had granted him a scholarship, would not house him because he was black. Despite the segregation of the era and the financial difficulties of the Great Depression, Adams excelled. He triple-majored in Greek, English and psychology, served as an assistant in the psychology department and published his undergraduate research in the American Journal of Psychology — all while washing dishes in local restaurants and working odd jobs to support himself.
“He literally changed the course of history at the Colleges and made it possible for me, 51 years later, to enroll at Hobart,” said Vincent. “In 1983, the very year I graduated from Hobart, the Colleges awarded the Reverend Dr. Alger Adams an honorary degree in recognition of his remarkable career and his commitment to community.”
Adams and Vincent stood together on the very same stage, Vincent said.
“This bold place — Hobart and William Smith — is a physical reminder to each one of us to move into the future with wonder and intent,” he said. ”(It) represents the values we hold dear, and inspires us to lead lives of consequence.”
About the HWS president
A national expert on civil rights, social justice and campus culture, Vincent previously served at The University of Texas at Austin as Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership and Professor of Law. His extensive career is distinguished by his commitment to equity and justice, both in education and in the wider public arena.
A life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., he serves as national chair of the Commission on Racial Justice. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (The Boulé) where he serves as the Grand Sire Archon-Elect (President-Elect). He earned a law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and his doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania.