March 13, 2020

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

As we start our spring break, this is a time of unprecedented change in higher education as many of the nation’s colleges and universities – including Hobart and William Smith – are about to embark on a massive natural experiment by providing almost all of their curriculum using remote learning methods. How, faculty and students are asking themselves, can we possibly translate our experiential learning that is so dependent on human interaction – laboratories, field experiments, research projects, art classes, performances and flipped classrooms – into a remote model?

The answer, of course, is imperfectly. Nothing can replace the real-time, residential, liberal arts learning experience. But our faculty are going to do their best. At a faculty meeting held this week dedicated to the subject, I was struck by the passion of our professors for their research and pedagogy; the heartfelt empathy they have for our students; and of course, an overriding concern for the ways in which COVID-19 is changing the fabric of our society. It was inspiring.

My admiration for the faculty is matched fully by my respect for the dedication of our staff, as well as our Sodexo teammates. The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a swiftly moving situation, one that is requiring us to make decisions and then revise them with a great deal of speed. Their ability to respond to each shift in direction (particularly in the Center for Global Education!) has required flexibility, focus and resiliency, qualities they all have in abundance.

My heart goes out to our students, most especially to our seniors whose final semester on the shores of Seneca Lake is being disrupted. Although they understand the necessity of the actions the Colleges have taken, it’s nonetheless disappointing to find your learning situation transformed, your social interactions curtailed and your athletics seasons canceled.

At moments like these, it is easy to let fear and worry get the better of us, but I am convinced that our faculty, staff and students are up to the challenges that face us. To our alumni, alumnae, parents and other friends of the Colleges, I thank you for your support and guidance during this time. Your many notes of encouragement have meant the world to all of us on campus. We must preserve our humanity and the connections that bind us even as we are forced to separate from each other physically. The distance we impose now must not erase the community we have all built together.

For answers to questions you may have about this situation, I urge you to review the Colleges’ COVID-19 webpage, which we update regularly. And as always, if you’d like to share your thoughts or concerns, or ask me a question directly, please email me at I respond to every message personally and look forward to engaging with you.


Joyce P. Jacobsen

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Main Page
COVID-19 Safety Training Employee Daily Wellness Assessment Application for CARES Act Funding July HEERF Student Aid Report HEERF Student Aid Report Stories about the Pandemic

Messages to the Community

Update on Fall Reopening by President Joyce P. Jacobsen - June 24, 2020

HWS Return to Campus Update for Employees Sonya Williams - June 11, 2020

Fall 2020 Study Abroad by Mary Coffey and Thomas D’Agostino - June 5, 2020

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