WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Clinton Speaks, Gearan Honored at HWS Commencement

May 15, 2017


Hobart and William Smith Colleges held their commencements on Sunday. This year’s speaker was former President Bill Clinton. But, much of the morning’s ceremony celebrated outgoing President of the Colleges Mark Gearan. Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Bozzuto praised the success and growth of the Colleges under Gearan’s leadership before announcing an honor unprecedented in the history of the institutions.

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Commencement
Credit Hobart and William Smith Colleges

"For the first time in our history and after a unanimous vote, it is with immense gratitude and sincere optimism for an enduring relationship that today we name Mark D. as Gearan as President Emeritus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges."

Praise for President Gearan continued from Student Trustee and William Smith senior speaker Sydney Gomez.

"Do you know the power of a door? It opens and closes, but most importantly it lets people in. The greenish door on 690 South Main, the President's house, has been a door that is welcoming and loving. It has had many students and Geneva community members walk through it religiously for 18 years. The Gearan's home has been a physical representation of the care, kindness, love, and service to HWS and the Geneva communities."

Both President Gearan and Mary Herlihy-Gearan were awarded honorary degrees, which were also conferred upon former President Clinton and Deborah Bial. Dr. Bial is the founder of the Posse Foundation, which recruits public school students for top-tier colleges. They’re trained to support one another and to use their diverse backgrounds to have a positive impact on their institutions. The first cohort of Posse Scholars to attend HWS were among the more the 500 students to graduate on Sunday.

After degrees were conferred, President Gearan concluded the ceremony with thanks to the community of the Colleges and to the Geneva community.

"Today Mary and I join the ranks of the very fortunate few with a Hobart and William Smith degree. We will treasure this. We will honor it with our work. We will honor the mission to lead a life of consequence and we hope that in so doing we will bring credit to this special place. It has been the honor of my life to serve as President of Hobart and William Smith and I thank you and Godspeed.”

President Gearan has accepted a fall semester appointment at his alma mater Harvard University as President in Residence where he will work on issues facing higher education. In April, Hobart and William Smith announced Hobart alumnus Dr. Gregory Vincent as the new president of the Colleges.