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Although the deans primarily deal with matters relating to a student's academic performance and her disciplinary record, many other services are provided by the dean's office. Organizations and programs that exist exclusively for the benefit of William Smith students include:

Transitional Issues

Adjusting to life as a college student can be challenging and stressful. A new student or a student returning from a term abroad may wish to speak with a dean concerning her transition to campus life. Her dean can assist with personal adjustment, meeting new academic demands, creating a new home or cultural re-entry.

Academic Advising

The deans supplement support provided by a student's faculty adviser. Any student may schedule an appointment with her dean to consult about her academic program.

Typical topics of discussion include: graduation requirements, assistance in designing an individual major, study abroad planning, transfer credit, internships, planning for dual majors, graduate or professional school, accelerating a program of study, and making up failed courses.

Students are encouraged to use their dean as a sounding board as they think through academic and personal goals and how best to realize them.

Academic Support

Students may request assistance with time management, study skills, academic planning, note-taking and other skills that may improve their academic achievement.

The deans also assist students who are concerned about their progress in a particular course or who need advice about the best way to approach a faculty member about a problem.

Students who are placed on academic probation are required to meet weekly with their dean.

The deans can also help students identify additional campus services, such as the Center for Teaching and Learning or the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP).

Awards and Recommendations

The deans nominate students who have attained notable achievements in or out of the classroom for institutional, local and national awards and scholarships as these opportunities arise. William Smith students may ask their dean for letters of recommendation for summer employment, graduate or professional schools and special HWS programs.

Conflict Resolution/Mediation

College women are faced with numerous opportunities and choices both in and out of the classroom. Sometimes women need help in negotiating reasonable, healthy outcomes to situations in which conflicts arise. Whether the conflict relates to difficulties with a faculty member, a roommate or another student or group of students, the deans are pleased to offer mediation and conflict resolution services. All sessions are kept completely confidential.

Final Examination Rescheduling

Only a dean may excuse a student from her scheduled final exam or paper. Please note that a final exam may be rescheduled ONLY in the event that a student has three exams scheduled on the same day, a scheduled examination conflict or an emergency. Family vacations and other personal scheduling conflicts do not qualify for an excused absence.

First Generation Initiative

The First Generation Initiative was formed in 2006 to help provide first generation students - those who are one of the first members of their family to attend college - with a network designed to meet their particular needs and concerns. Dean Lisa Kaenzig is the coordinator of this group, which encourages participation by students, faculty and staff.

First Year Academic Planning

The First Year Academic Planning event is sponsored by the Hobart and William Smith Deans' offices in late October. This event is designed to help first year students navigate the course registration process for the spring of their first year. Deans, faculty and upper-class students join new first year students for a dinner and provide helpful guidance, as they begin to plot their academic journey at the Colleges.

Emergency Loans

The office offers emergency loans to students who are in need of immediate cash on a short-term basis. The student should speak with Jean Warren, who will determine whether an emergency exists, the amount to be loaned (up to $100) and a schedule for repayment. Loans have been granted to students needing funds for medical attention or prescription drugs, unexpected travel due to a family emergency and similar matters.

Majors/Minors Fair

The Hobart and William Smith Deans Offices offer a dinner during October for sophomore students to explore their academic possibilities. It is intended to educate sophomores about all of the possible majors and minors available at HWS. It aims to provide information about students’ current or potential fields of study so the students are informed of the requirements for their intended major/minor. Each dinner table is dedicated to a specific academic concentration with a faculty or staff member present at each table to answer any questions.


The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) is a national organization that encourages and prepares young women to become political leaders. William Smith College is a member of PLEN and is led by Dean Lisa Kaenzig who also serves on the national Board of Directors of PLEN. This organization aims to increase the number of women in top leadership positions by exposing college women to role models and skills training needed before entering the workforce in public policy careers.

Special Requests

Any woman who wishes to take an unusual course load (more than 4.5 or fewer than 4 courses) must request permission from her dean. A dean must be consulted about taking a voluntary withdrawal from a class, requesting an authorized withdrawal or requesting a temporary (no more than two semesters) leave of absence from the College.

The Summit

The Summit is a problem solving meeting for any William Smith students who wish to join where concrete solutions to real student problems are generated and discussed. This group of students tackles campus issues that are of concern to students, including but not limited to residential, social and academic issues.

WS Deans’ Senior and Alumnae Speaker Supper

This supper is dedicated to informing William Smith Seniors of the possibilities after graduating. They are joined by William Smith Alumnae to speak about their work history and experiences since graduation. These suppers and discussions with William Smith graduates provide current students with a realistic sense of how life unfolds for women both in life and in the workforce.


The Charter Class established the big sister/little sister program in 1910 and with it the tradition of William Smith women reaching out and supporting one another.

That tradition is continued today by a number of student organizations that help women make William Smith a vibrant and caring community. Organizations and programs that exist exclusively for the benefit of William Smith students include:

William Smith Congress (WSC)

All students of  William Smith are members of Congress, which works to represent and promote women's interests and activities on campus. Every woman is encouraged to attend the weekly meeting, which provide an opportunity for women from all classes and interest groups to gather and to discuss and act upon campus issues which they find important. Students of William Smith can attain voting status by attending 3 meetings and are responsible for the allocation of student funds to finance organizations, activities and projects that benefit William Smith students.

Sexual Assault and Acquaintance Rape Awareness Workshop

September 3-6, 2012
Each fall, first-year women participate in small group workshops that are designed to facilitate discussions about issues of safety and acquaintance rape as they exist on college campuses. One of the special features of the program is the student-to-student approach. Trained upper-class student volunteers help choose the content and format of the program and are entirely responsible for leading the small group discussions with the new first year students.

Women's Resource Center

The Center, which is located in the basement of Miller House, is a space for William Smith women to study, meet and relax. In addition to finding a library of resources concerned with women's issues, students who visit the center can benefit from the help of student staff members who are trained for peer counseling and crisis intervention.