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PSS Winter '09 - Bruce Springsteen Photo

Where Students Learn to Lead

Photo of Ribbon Cutting

On November 8, Hobart and William Smith Colleges cut the ribbon on an innovative new space to enhance leadership on campus. The Centennial Center for Leadership – located at 603 South Main Street – sprung from the desire to permanently commemorate the William Smith Centennial and better fulfill the Colleges’ mission.

“There was a consensus among alumnae that, aside from the education, the most important and memorable part of their experience at the Colleges was the unique opportunity for leadership,” says Assistant Vice President for the William Smith Centennial Fund Mara O’Laughlin ’66. “In our new Centennial Center for Leadership, students at the Colleges will be able to acquire all of the tools needed to pioneer in any field in the 21st century.”

The Center will house HWS Leads, a unique leadership program that creates an umbrella for existing leadership initiatives, such as those of the athletic departments and residential education. The Center and leadership program will foster the Colleges’ ability to recruit, recognize and retain high-achieving students and help those students become more competitive for national fellowships, graduate school admissions and professional opportunities. In commemoration of the William Smith Centennial, it will also offer fellowships and scholarships to both men and women in the pursuit of academic excellence.

The Centennial Center

“The Centennial Center’s mission is to prepare culturally competent, global leaders with an understanding and appreciation for service and equity,” explains Salisbury Center for Career Services Associate Director Brandi Ferrara. “The program we’ve developed will distinguish the Colleges and its students as they search for jobs or graduate schools.”

“In this new space, we will be able to develop leaders in our formal leadership program, which is based on extensive research and will offer leadership skill training, self-assessment tools and – for the first time – a certification program in leadership,” explains Kirra Henick- Kling Guard ’08, MAT ’09, who surveyed leadership programs at 20 other college and university campuses.

Overall, $8 million has been raised and earmarked to establish and endow the Centennial Center for Leadership. Gifts, including the lead gift from Trustee Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82, have been directed toward renovating the building to house the Center and endowing leadership programming, scholarships and fellowships.

“Since William Smith College began and Hobart and William Smith became coordinate Colleges, our alumni and alumnae have pioneered in everything from English to economics to history,” said Fish during the dedication. “Now, as we cut the ribbon on the Centennial Center, we will become leaders among leadership programs across the United States.

“This building speaks to us,” Fish said. “Its message is clear: leadership is a value that will carry from this Centennial well into the next.”