July 26, 2022
Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,
Earlier this afternoon, President Joyce P. Jacobsen sent a letter to the Hobart and William Smith community in which she announced that she had informed the Board of her decision to step down as president. She will return to her work as a scholar and teacher, joining the HWS faculty as Professor of Economics.
Joyce led the Colleges through one of the most challenging times in our history, when the rigors of the pandemic required her to make daily decisions affecting the health and wellbeing of our community. She did so with strength and fortitude, while also engineering tremendous acceleration in curricular development, athletics enhancements and philanthropy, including presiding over record-breaking fundraising years. As chair and vice chair of the Board, we have enjoyed a highly effective and collaborative partnership with her, and have come to appreciate how seriously she took her role and how much of herself she devoted to it. Joyce has made the Colleges an even better and more vibrant learning environment. We look forward to celebrating her many accomplishments with her and her husband, Bill Boyd, in the near future. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we thank her most sincerely for her service.
Joyce departs the presidency as we celebrate the Bicentennial of Hobart College. As we reflect on the last 200 years of accomplishments, we also look forward. We remain committed to delivering an exceptional education for our students, one that challenges them to investigate and preview the world so that they might imagine, lead and shape the brightest future. To offer this kind of education, we must affirm our values of inquiry, equity and belonging. We must shore up our finances while offering competitive aid packages that allow students to graduate without burdensome debt. We must continue to attract and retain faculty who are committed to research and mentorship, staff who are dedicated to innovation, and students who are curious, passionate learners. We must engage our alums and parents as we also build connections with prospective students, their families and high schools.
As the Board considered the future leadership of the Colleges at this critical time, we knew we needed our next president to be someone with the capacity to elicit the best of our nature, the skill to build on all that Joyce has accomplished, and the talent to leverage the accelerating momentum. We wanted a president experienced in taking calculated and creative leaps forward.
It is therefore our privilege to announce that President Emeritus Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21 has agreed to return to the Colleges to serve as the 30th president of Hobart and the 19th of William Smith. There is no one more qualified to lead Hobart and William Smith into our next 200 years than Mark. He has the experience, aptitude, passion and creativity to make a tremendous difference, and is committed to our future.
Upon leaving the Colleges in 2017, Mark served as President in Residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and in 2018 was appointed Director of the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. With his wife, Mary Herlihy Gearan L.H.D.’17, they served as Interim Faculty Deans at Winthrop House, one of 12 undergraduate houses at Harvard.
A former Director of the Peace Corps, Mark is known nationally for his work on higher education and national service and recently served as Vice Chair of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service created by the U.S. Congress. A cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, he holds 12 honorary degrees.
Mark will return to Geneva with his wife, Mary, who was active in the Geneva community during their previous service and has continued to serve on the Board of Happiness House, Finger Lakes Cerebral Palsy Association. At Harvard, she received the John R. Marquand Award recognizing excellence and dedication in the mentoring and guidance of Harvard undergraduates. Mark and Mary have two daughters, Madeleine and Kathleen ’21.
In the coming weeks and months, we will have many occasions to gather as a community, whether for events on campus, regionally or virtually. We hope you will take the opportunity to congratulate Joyce on her accomplishments and to introduce or re-introduce yourself to Mark and Mary so that you can share with them your own ideas for the future. It has never been brighter.
Craig R. Stine ’81, P’17
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Cassandra Naylor Brooks ’89
Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees