Every student has a unique life story that enriches the Hobart and William Smith community. It is a privilege to see these stories unfold as our students graduate, and to know that the Colleges have influenced the lives they create. At HWS, students are not alone as they embark on paths of intellectual discovery. They are embraced by a community that supports and empowers them, establishing meaningful connections that endure for life.
Julia James ’04, the first William Smith Rhodes Scholar, recently shared her story in a piece she wrote for The Guardian. Julia describes her experience at HWS as a firstgeneration college student and of the support she received as an undergraduate, beginning with enrollment through the completion of her chemistry degree.
“I opted to attend the only college for which a dean met me at the bus station, Hobart and William Smith Colleges,” Julia writes. “This personal touch set the tone for my experience at HWS, which culminated in my selection as a Rhodes Scholar in 2003.” In her piece, Julia notes that she received care packages from Lillian Collins, a longtime and valued member of the Advancement staff. “That kind of individual attention was key to my success in college and prepared me well for Oxford and beyond.”
Julia’s story exemplifies the spirit of support and inclusion that the HWS community provides its students. Extending that support to the nearly 20,000 alumni and alumnae throughout the country and across the globe is a challenge but the rewards are significant. As part of the HWS 2015 strategic plan, for the past several years the Colleges and a network of volunteers have been working directly on this issue. Their solution is the National Regional Network, which divides the country into nine regions, each one overseen by a team of volunteers tasked with engaging alums and parents in activities that support career services, admissions and advancement.
I urge everyone to learn more about the National Regional Network described in detail on the pages of this magazine and online (www.hws.edu/regional). Attend one of the many events being held around the country in 2014, mentor students as they explore careers, host events or participate in college fairs in support of admissions, return to campus to advise students or attend Reunion, and make a gift to the Annual Fund. Working together, we can translate the innovation and optimism at the heart of the National Regional Network into an exponential increase in the capacity of the Colleges. With your help, we can attract and retain high quality students from around the world, engage them in meaningful intellectual work while here on campus, and give them the tools and experiences they need to lead lives of consequence.
Finally, this issue of the magazine includes a fascinating retrospective of what is known in the lore of the Colleges as the “Tommy the Traveler” incident. Written by Hobart alumnus Andrew Wickenden ’09, the story pieces together first-person accounts, historical documents, and news articles in an attempt to better understand what happened on campus four decades ago. We invite you to join the conversation by submitting your reflections online. It’s just one of the many ways you can connect with Hobart and William Smith.
With every best wish, I remain
Mark D. Gearan