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Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Official Logo of Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Established 1822/1908
Type Private
Endowment $185 million[1] undergrad=1970
President Mark Gearan
Faculty 178
Postgraduates 10
Location Geneva, New York, USA
Campus small town
Colors Hobart: Orange and Purple          
William Smith: Green and White          
Mascot Bart, the Statesman/WS Herons
Affiliations MAISA Liberty League

Hobart and William Smith Colleges, located in Geneva, New York, are together a liberal arts college offering Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. Legally, the combined corporation of the two colleges, Hobart College and William Smith College, is The Colleges of the Seneca.



Hobart College traces its roots to Geneva Academy, founded in 1796. Hobart College proper was founded in 1822 as Geneva College and renamed in honor of its founder, Episcopal bishop John Henry Hobart, in 1852.

Geneva at the time was a bustling Upstate New York city on the main land and stage coach route to the West. When John Henry Hobart, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, visited Geneva in 1818, Geneva Academy (founded by the Rev. Henry Axtell) had temporarily closed its doors. Bishop Hobart had a plan to reopen the Academy at a new location, raise a public subscription for the construction of a stone building, and elevate the school to college status. By 1822, sufficient community funds had been raised to complete the stone structure, Geneva Hall, still in use today.


Geneva College

Known as Geneva College until 1852, when it was renamed in memory of its most forceful advocate and founder. Hobart College of the 19th century was the first American institution of higher learning to establish a three-year "English Course" of study to educate young men destined for such practical occupations as "agriculture, merchandise, mechanism, and manufacturing", while at the same time maintaining a traditional four-year "classical course" for those intending to enter "the learned professions." It also was the first college in America to have a Dean of the College.

Notable 19th-century alumni included Albert James Myer, Class of 1847, a military officer who "invented" the United States Weather Bureau, founded the International Meteorological Organization and the U.S. Signal Corps, and for whom Fort Myer, Va., is named; General E. S. Bragg of the Class of 1848, colonel of the Sixth Wisconsin Regiment and a brigadier general in command of the Iron Brigade who served one term in Congress and later was ambassador to Mexico and consul general of the U.S. in Cuba; two other 1848 graduates, Clarence Seward and Thomas M. Griffith, who were assistant secretary of state and builder of the first national railroad across the Mississippi River, respectively; and Charles J. Folger, Class of 1836, who was United States secretary of the treasury in the 1880s.

Bishop Hobart.

Until the mid-20th Century, Hobart was strongly affiliated with the Episcopal Church and produced many of its clergy. This affiliation continues to the present, but the last Episcopal clergyman to serve as President of Hobart (1956-1966) was Dr. Louis Melbourne Hirshson. Since then, the president of the colleges has been a layperson.

Elizabeth Blackwell

Amid those distinguished male graduates was one woman. In an era when the prevailing conventional wisdom was that no woman could withstand the intellectual and emotional rigors of a medical education, Elizabeth Blackwell applied to and was rejected - or simply ignored - by 17 medical schools before being admitted in 1847 to the medical college then affiliated with Geneva College. The medical faculty, largely opposed to her admission but seemingly unwilling to take responsibility for the decision, decided to submit the matter to a vote of the students. The men of the College, perhaps as a joke on the faculty, voted to admit her. Blackwell graduated two years later, on January 23, 1849, at the head of her class, the first woman doctor in the hemisphere. Blackwell went on to found the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and had a role in the creation of its medical college. She then returned to her native England and helped found the National Health Society and taught at the first college of medicine for women to be established there.

Founding of William Smith

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Hobart College was on the brink of bankruptcy and suffering through a period of financial uncertainty. It was through the presidency of Langdon Stewardson that the college obtained a new donor, nurseryman William Smith. William Smith had already built the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva and the Smith Observatory on his own property when he became interested in founding a college for women, a plan that he pursued to the point of breaking ground before realizing that the plan was beyond even his means. In 1903, Hobart College President Langdon C. Stewardson learned of Smith's interest and, for two years, attempted without success to convince him to make Hobart College the object of his philanthropy. With enrollments down and its resources strained, Hobart's future depended upon a transfusion of new funds.

William Smith.

Unable to convince Smith to provide direct assistance to Hobart, President Stewardson redirected the negotiations toward founding a coordinate institution for women, a plan that appealed to the philanthropist. On December 13, 1906, he formalized his intentions; two years later William Smith School for Women - a coordinate, nonsectarian women's college - enrolled its first class of 18 students. That charter class grew to 20 members before its graduation in 1912.

In addition, Smith's gift made possible construction of the Smith Hall of Science, to be used by both colleges, and permitted the hiring, also in 1908, of three new faculty members who would teach in areas previously unavailable in the curriculum: biology, sociology, and psychology.

Development of the Coordinate System

Despite some sharing of facilities, at the beginning of their relationship the two colleges were quite separate. Classes were conducted in duplicate, and women students were not allowed on the Hobart campus. Those who required access to Trinity and Merritt halls (where chemistry and physics classes were held), the library, and the Chapel traveled there on public sidewalks along the campus perimeter.

The enforced separation of the Colleges eroded gradually over the years. In 1922, the first joint commencement was held, but baccalaureate services remained separate until 1942. By then, the practice of holding duplicate classes was less observed, particularly in upper-level courses with few students. In 1938, first-year courses were held in common, without any of the dire consequences that some had predicted, and by 1941 coeducational classes had become the norm.

In 1943, during the administration of President John Milton Potter, William Smith College was elevated from its original status as a department of Hobart College to that of an independent college, co-equal with Hobart. At President Potter's suggestion, the two colleges established a joint corporate identity, adopting a "family name", The Colleges of the Seneca, which still is the legal name of the combined corporation.

World War II

Between 1943 and 1945, Hobart College trained almost 1,000 men in the U.S. Navy's V-12 program, many of whom returned to complete their college educations when the post-World War II GI Bill swelled the enrollments of American colleges and universities. In 1948, three of those veterans - William F. Scandling, Harry W. Anderson, and W. P. Laughlin - took over operation of the Hobart dining hall. Their fledgling business was expanded the next year to include William Smith College; after their graduation, in 1949, it grew to serve other colleges and universities across the country, eventually becoming Saga Corporation, a nationwide provider of institutional food services.

William Smith College

William Smith College was founded in 1908 (the charter was signed in 1903) as a women's college sharing certain facilities and faculty with Hobart College but self-identifying not as a single college but as two “coordinate” institutions.


Hobart and William Smith Colleges' campus is situated on 170 acres (0.69 km2) in Geneva, New York, along the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes.

The iconic Coxe Hall, fronting the Hobart Quad. The building, named for Bishop Arthur Cleveland Coxe, is an excellent example of Jacobean architecture.

The campus is notable for the style of Jacobean architecture represented by many buildings, notably Coxe Hall, which houses the President's Office and other administrative departments. In contrast, the earliest buildings and the chapel are Gothic in style.

A 15 million dollar expansion of the Scandling Campus Center was completed in Autumn 2008. This renovation added over 17,000 additional square feet, including an expanded cafe, a new post office, and more meeting areas.

Other important buildings include

Geneva Hall (1822) and Trinity Hall (1837), listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[2]

Gulick Hall, built in 1951 as part of the post-war "mini-boom" that also included the construction of the Hobart "mini-quad" dormitories Durfee, Bartlett, and Hale (each named for a 19th Century Hobart College president), Gulick Hall originally housed the campus dining services and, later, the Office of the Registrar. Completely renovated in 1991, Gulick now houses both the Office of the Registrar and the Psychology department, which was moved from Smith Hall in 1991 prior to its renovation in 1992.

Stern Hall, 2004, houses the political science, anthropology/sociology, and economics departments.

Smith Hall, built in 1907, Smith Hall originally housed both the Biology and Psychology Departments. It is now home to the Dean's Offices of both colleges, along with the departmental offices of Writing and Rhetoric and the various modern language departments. Smith Hall was the first building constructed with funds from William Smith on the William Smith College campus, but it is also the first building that has always been shared by both colleges.

Williams Hall, 1907, home of the Music Department and IT services.

Demarest Hall, connected to St. John's Chapel by St. Mark's Tower. Houses the departments of religious studies, philosophy, and English and comparative literature. Also home to the Blackwell Room, named in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

In the center of the campus, the Warren Hunting Smith Library houses 385,000 volumes, 12,000 periodicals and more than 8,000 VHS and DVD videos. In 1997, the library underwent a major renovation. An addition, the L. Thomas Melly Academic Center, was added to its south side.

The surrounding eco-system plays a major role in the Colleges’ curriculum and acquisitions. The Colleges own the 108-acre (0.44 km2) Hanley Biological Field Station and Preserve on neighboring Cayuga Lake as well as playing host to the Finger Lakes Institute, a non-profit focusing on education and ecological preservation for the Finger Lakes area.

Seneca Lake also plays host to the ‘’William Scandling’’, a 65-foot (20 m) research vessel used to monitor lake conditions and serving as a platform for student and faculty research.

The Colleges also own and operate WEOS-FM and WHWS-LP public radio stations broadcasting throughout the Finger Lakes and worldwide, on the web.

The Coordinate System

When many single-sex institutions became co-ed in the 1960s and '70s, both Hobart and William Smith retained their separate identities while integrating many aspects of student life in an arrangement called the “Coordinate System.” Emblematic of the nature of this system is the sculpture of a scissors embedded in the lawn south of the library: two separate entites, joined together in order to work as a whole.

The Colleges' campus borders Seneca Lake.

The colleges share most administrative offices (there is only one President’s Office, for example) they maintain separate deans' offices, athletics programs, student governments and until recently, admissions offices. Even some regulations about student life vary. Hobart College allows fraternities and Greek organizations while William Smith does not allow sororities.

A male graduate receives a degree from Hobart College and a female graduate from William Smith College. Alums are always referred to in the single-sex sense of the word, as “alumnae and alumni” and any reference to the institution is always in the plural. (“colleges”)

Each college celebrates their own traditions. During the academic year, William Smith College celebrates annual events such as Founder's Day and Moving Up Day. Hobart has Charter Day, which celebrates the 1822 founding and its own honor societies: The Druid Society for Seniors (founded 1903), Chimera Society (Juniors, 1910) and Orange Key (Sophomores,1926). The William Smith Senior Honor Society is Hai Timai("Wise Women" in Greek). Each society has specific roles and functions on campus.


Hobart and William Smith Colleges offer degrees in Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts in Teaching. The colleges follow the semester calendar and have a student to faculty ratio of 11:1.

The colleges are known for the number of students that study abroad for a semester during the academic year; in recent years, between 40% and 60% of students have spent at least one semester studying off-campus.

The Colleges have long been recognized for the high quality of their education and in 1961 were National Champions on the GE College Bowl, one of only three institutions in the United States to achieve this distinction at the time. In 2004, a William Smith student was selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

From 2001-2004, Hobart and William Smith Colleges saw the publication of a literary magazine, SCRY!: A Nexus of Politics and the Arts. Under the editorship of Binh Nguyen (Hobart '04), the magazine saw some contributions from professionals and students, both. The Canadian poet/classicist Anne Carson appeared twice; John O'Brien, the founder of The Center for Book Culture, was included; the award-winning on-campus writers as Jim Crenner, David Weiss, Deborah Tall and James McCorkle submitted original poems. There were writings and artworks by students as well.

Elizabeth Blackwell Award

Given in her memory, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award is presented periodically by Hobart and William Smith Colleges to a woman who has demonstrated "outstanding service to humankind." Its recipients have included Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright (2001), tennis great Billie Jean King (1998), Wilma Mankiller (1996), first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation; the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (1993), the late Senator Margaret Chase Smith (1991), former Surgeon General Antonia Novello (1991), and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (1985), among many others.


Hobart's athletic teams became known as the "Statesmen" in 1936, following the football team's season opener against Amherst College. The morning after the game, the New York Times referred to the team as "the statesmen from Geneva," and the name stuck. The nickname for William Smith's athletic teams comes from a contest held in 1982. Several names were submitted, but "Herons" was selected because of the strong and graceful birds that lived near Odell's Pond. These ominous birds frequently flew over the athletic fields as the teams were practicing.

Hobart's archrival in football is Union College in Schenectady, New York. Other team rivalries include Rensselaer (football, basketball); Rochester (football); Elmira and Manhattanville (hockey); Cornell, Syracuse and Georgetown (Lacrosse) and Colgate University (Crew). William Smith has rivalries in St. Lawrence (Lacrosse, Basketball, Field Hockey), Union (Soccer, Field Hockey, Basketball, Lacrosse) and Hamilton (Field Hockey, Basketball, and Lacrosse), and Ithaca (Crew).

Hobart sponsors 11 varsity programs (basketball, crew, cross country, football, golf, hockey, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, squash, tennis), while William Smith also sponsors 11 varsity programs (basketball, crew, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, squash, swimming and diving, tennis).

The Colleges compete in NCAA Division III, with the exception of men's lacrosse, which competes in the Division I ECAC Lacrosse League. The storied Statesmen lacrosse team has compiled sixteen national championships (1 USILA, 2 NCAA Division II, and 13 NCAA Division III).

The William Smith field hockey team has captured three national championships, ascending to the top of Division III in 1992, 1997, and 2000.

The lone coed team, the HWS sailing team is a member of the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association. In 2005, the Colleges won the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Team Race National Championship and the ICSA Coed Dinghy National Championship.

The William Smith soccer team was the first Heron squad to capture a national championship, winning the 1988 title bout with a 1-0 victory over University of California, San Diego.

The Hobart Crew team has also found success recently, earning medals at the Head of The Charles Regatta, the ECAC National Invitational Regatta, and the IRA National Championships. The Hobart Crew team has never failed to win the Liberty League Rowing Championships, and has won gold in every event they have entered in since the inception of rowing as a Liberty League Sport.

The Colleges' main conference affiliation is with the Liberty League with the following exceptions: Hobart hockey competes in the ECAC West; Hobart lacrosse competes in the ECAC Lacrosse League; and the William Smith golf team is an independent.

Notable alumnae and alumni

Notable faculty

  • William Robert Brooks (1844–1922), was an American astronomer who specialized in comet discovery and has some periodic comets named for him.
  • Elon Howard Eaton, founded the biology department and was state ornithologist and author of bird books.
  • Joseph Healey, PhD, former Dean of Hobart College, is now the headmaster of University Liggett School.
  • H. Wesley Perkins, Professor of Sociology and the author of "Father of Social Norms Marketing."
  • Michael Dobkowski, Professor of Religious Studies, author of multiple works including "The Tarnished Dream". Official Faculty Bio
  • David Weiss, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, author of "The Mensch" and noted poet
  • Deborah Tall, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, noted poet and editor of "The Seneca Review". Official website
  • Jack Harris, Professor of Sociology, Researcher on Vietnam and masculinity studies. Official College Bio
  • David Ost, Professor of Political Science, author of multiple works, including "The Defeat Of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe. Official College Bio
  • Mark Gearan, President of Colleges, former White House Deputy Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, and former Director of the Peace Corps
  • Maynard Smith, philosopher.
  • Graham Moller- Author, Historian, Deep Sea Diver
  • Clifton Hood, Professor of History author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York
  • Iva Deutchman, Professor of Political Science and Co-host of Plato's Cave, aired nationally on NPR affiliates.
  • Benjamin Fish Austin (1850-1933), Campaigner for Women's Education. Also a renowned proponent of the Spiritualism movement
  • Matthew Kadane, Assistant Professor of History, main songwriter (along with brother Bubba) of Bedhead and The New Year.
  • Craig A. Rimmerman, Professor of Public Policy, author of many publications, specifically The New Citizenship
  • Richard Salter, Chair of Religious Studies

See also

  • WEOS - English language radio station operated by the colleges
  • WHWS-LP - Spanish language radio station operated by the colleges


External links


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