On November 7, members of the Colleges community gathered to unveil and dedicate the sculpture of nurseryman, suffragist and educational proponent William Smith amidst a grove of autumnal trees on the Hill, surrounded by residence halls that have been home to William Smith women for the past 100 years.
The 6-foot, lifelike bronze statue was sculpted by A.E. “Ted” Aub, professor of art, using photographs of William Smith and models that included Christopher Slaby, a Hobart senior, and Ted Smith, William Smith’s great grandnephew who lives in Geneva.
“Today as we celebrate the foresight and vision of our founder, it is fitting that we dedicate this sculpture,” said Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Maureen Collins Zupan ’72, P’09 at the opening of the ceremony. “We have come a long way in the 100 years since a local Geneva businessman had the vision to create a school for women at a time before women could vote. Now, William Smith, the statue, will sit proudly on our Hill to witness the next 100 years.”
Professor of Sociology Jim Spates P’00, P’11 and former Trustee Dr. Todd A. Patterson ’72, P’06, P’12 started the initiative to commission the statue.
“This statue is a gift from the men of the Board of Trustees to honor the women of William Smith, in recognition of the role William Smith women have played in the success of our Colleges,” said Patterson, after which the statue was unveiled to a round of applause and audible admiration.
Aub explained the challenges of creating the sculpture, including having very few likenesses of William Smith to work with, and his choices in how he depicted Smith.
“I found it inspiring that Smith, in his late eighties, undertook the immense task of starting a college. Therefore, I chose to depict him at the end of his abundant life. Though elderly, he is active - he moves slowly forward and upward.”
The statue shows Smith leaning on a gnarled walking stick and holding a pinecone, which holds the seeds of the pine tree, the symbol of William Smith College and a metaphor for the continuity of life inherent in seeds.