Summer in the Finger Lakes is a season of unparalleled beauty. And as the City of Geneva fills with visiting tourists, so too does our campus. People come from around the world to attend conferences and camps at Hobart and William Smith. In addition, each summer about 100 students remain on campus to participate in research with faculty mentors or to work in Admissions and Institutional Advancement, among other offices. At the end of the work day, it's not unusual to find our students downtown at one of Geneva's new coffee shops or cafés, jumping off the dock at Bozzuto Boathouse, or taking a bike ride along Seneca Lake.
In the midst of these summer activities, work is well-underway to prepare for the arrival of the Classes of 2015 who bring with them a strong set of academic, leadership, athletic and service credentials. With enhanced academic preparation and quality measured by class rank, standardized tests, and greater ethnic, racial and geographic diversity, the Classes of 2015 are shaping up to be one of the most engaging and vibrant we have ever enrolled. I was particularly pleased that an unprecedentedly large number of the entering cohort—40 percent—enrolled through Early Decision, making Hobart and William Smith Colleges their first and only choice. There is much evidence to show that when a class enters with these kinds of characteristics, they are more likely to persist and thrive.
We are currently planning for an incoming class size of 690 students, somewhat more than we expected. We knew from a variety of metrics and modeling that our position in the marketplace was steadily gaining ground so we opted to accept 300 fewer students into the first-year classes this year than last. But no metrics or model could have predicted the unprecedented interest that students are showing in Hobart and William Smith. Certainly, when they arrive on campus, they will bring with them a wide array of perspectives that will make educating them a stimulating and rewarding experience. As one college counselor e-mailed to me, "Hobart and William Smith is a hot school."
We are seeing the same kind of unprecedented interest in Campaign for the Colleges. This year, the levels of giving to the Campaign have exceeded all expectations. Giving to the Annual Fund has never been higher. Interest in our planned giving program, The Wheeler Society, is tremendous. The Campaign itself, which is at $189 million toward our goal of $200 million, is progressing with encouraging momentum. As we look forward to successfully closing Campaign for the Colleges on May 31, 2012, I remain grateful to those of you who continue to make the Colleges a philanthropic priority.
With every best wish, I remain,
Mark D. Gearan