Robert Gilman '70
Hobart Alumni Association President
August 30, 2009
My name is Robert Gilman and I have the honor and the pleasure of being the president of the Hobart Alumni Association. Last week, after work one day, I was walking into the gym to exercise and as I passed a gentleman I did not know he said one word to me ... "Hobart". It wasn't that he recognized me or that he was clairvoyant ... I was wearing a Hobart T-shirt and shorts. I turned around and he introduced himself and told me that his daughter's best friend was starting William Smith in this class and though his own daughter decided to go elsewhere, how impressed he was with the colleges when he accompanied his daughter to Geneva. I have found over the years that this kind of encounter occurs frequently. I have run into Hobart and William Smith graduates sitting at a stoplight in Santa Fe and looking at Michelangelo's David in Florence. This small school certainly has a large reach. I graduated with a BA in 1970 and went on to both medical and dental school and am a practicing Plastic Surgeon in the Boston area and a faculty member in the Harvard Plastic Surgery residency program and Harvard Medical School. But, all that being said, when I return to Geneva I am Bob Gilman, or just "Gilly", Hobart class of 1970, and to me that is as important as any salutation.
In fact, 43 years ago I sat where you are sitting and the Dean said in classic Dean's form.. ."look to the left of you and look to the right of you ... one of those people won't be there in 4 years". Well, that was 1966. Today, I say to you, "look to the left of you and look to the right of you" in 4 years you will have likely forged a lasting bond of friendship with at least one of those people ... rooted in your being a part of the Hobart and William Smith community, a community which now numbers more than 20,000.
You are embarking on a 4-year journey of education and growth just like innumerable freshman have at these colleges over generations. In doing so you are becoming an eternal part of this place and ... this place is becoming an eternal part of you. We are a family here at these colleges. We come here, born into this place as it were ... we grow up, go out on our own and often return for family reunions or engage to help fellow HWS family members in any way we can. After all, isn't that what family is all about?
From this day on you are on track to become members of the Hobart Alumni Association. I trust that you will all have the productive college experience that this institution can offer over the next 4 years. It won't be easy, very little of value is. REMEMBER ... You have 20,000 alumni and alumnae out there rooting for your success and most of them would be willing to help you in any way that they can to insure that success. WHY? Because we Alumni and Alumnae love these colleges and are grateful for the opportunities, the experiences and perhaps most of all for the friends and family these colleges have brought into our lives.
I challenge you to dig in, look around, stay open-minded, and don't be afraid to take chances, take advantage, be active, have fun, get involved, and stay involved. You are part of our HWS family now and will be forever more.
On behalf of the Hobart Alumni Association and its Alumni Council and our sister Alumnae Association, I welcome you to Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Remarks made by Robert Gilman '70, during the Matriculation dinner for the Classes of 2013.