Hobart and William Smith Colleges – Dr. Gregory Vincent ’83 Named President
Good, good afternoon And welcome What a great day for Hobart and William Smith And what a historic day Because as you all know on this important date April 20th Fenway Park opened in Boston It was the mayor of Boston John Fitzgerald who You want to hear about this, right? Threw out the first pitch And I am very happy to report That on that day the Boston Red Sox Defeated the New York Highlanders Renamed the New York Yankees 7-6 in 11 innings Well, there are other historical moments today that we observe, but good afteroon And welcome, how great is it that we are thrilled to have so many of our students, our faculty Staff, our Geneva neighbors Elected officials here, all that make up this wonderful Hobart and William Smith Community, so to all of our campus and Geneva friends, we warmly welcome all of you. I am thrilled That we have the leadership of our Board of Trustees here Who provide extraordinary leadership to the Colleges And I believe we have three former Chairs of the Board That bear our special recognition You know them Largely by building names, probably, Boathouses But Mr. Tom Melley is here, Mr. Melley I think I can say without fear of contradiction That there is no person in this room Who has done more Over more years Combing more miles To support Hobart and William Smith than Tom Melley, thank you I am very grateful that Mr. Charlie Salisbury Is here as well, Mr. Salisbury Mr. Salisbury was the first Board Chair When we came up to the Colleges and he taught and Beared with me a great deal in those early years. And how fortunate are we to have here The indomitable Maureen Collins Zuppan Our current Board Chair Mr. Tom Buzzuto, from the Class of ’68 is here on the Stage with us and he will make an important announcement In case you haven’t figured any of this out. But I don’t want to rob him of that opportunity But it’s been my privilege to work with Tom Buzzuto during my entire time here for 18 years he served as a Trustee. In this past year as Board Chair Really bringing and defining leadership To the Board and to the Colleges And everyone here should know That we’re most fortunate to have his considerable talents And an unyielding commitment To Hobart and William Smith, so thank you, Mr. Buzzuto. I am, though, especially proud to be On this stage with two distinguished graduates One of the many blessings of this position over the years has been the privilege of getting to know so many of alumni and alumnae across the country and indeed, across the world and as president I have benefitted from their counsel, appreciated their support and their warm and generous spirit And as a family, Mary and I have treasured their friendships and we look forward to Continuing those associations going forward. And so, i’m particularly pleased to welcome One of those valued alums back to campus today. Over the years I have had the great pleaure of getting to know Greg Vincent A graduate of the class of 1983 And I have been struck By how he has fulfilled our mission He has led a life of consequence With a distinguished career in higher education and law He’s made a real difference in the lives of real people As a civil rights attorney and university administrator, he has worked to ensure greater opportunities and broadened access for deserving students In his own words he is a “passionate advocate for social change and in justice” He gained national recognition for his efforts to build more inclusive and diverse campus communities To address the challenges related to social justice, campus culture equity, and access. Long before I made what was a difficult decision to conclude my tenure here as president I benefitted from Greg Vincent’s perspectives on issues on higher education And i’ve been deeply grateful for his involvement with his alma mater On several occasions I sought our his perspective and he always, always exhibited the kind of care and attention One would have hoped for and prized in a graduate. I was appreciative of his visits back to campus meeting with our students, delivering a stirring convocation address meeting with faculty and staff colleagues and recently, during the search process I have been immensely impressed with the care of his presentations and his outreach to campus constituencies And his keen interest to engage in Geneva. But I would observe that Greg like his predecessor will benefit from having a talented wife Will be a valued partner And a wonderful addition to this community. We welcome Kim So we welcome Kim Vincent back to Geneva And Mary and I have very much enjoyed our time together with Kim and Greg And Mary was thrilled to bring both of them around Geneva, showing them this wonderful community. That so warmly welcomed our family 18 years ago. Our daughters, Kathleen and Madeline grew up here. This is their home town. And as Kathleen said to Kim “You’re gonna love Geneva,” And she’s right, welcome Kim Vincent. And so for all these reasons with gratitude to the hard work of the search committee So, so ably led by Tom Poole and Katherine Elliot. And with gratitude with the very good judgement of the board of trustees I am very pleased to welcome Greg Vincent today But in speaking with the trustees about Greg I said Without hesitation that Hobart and William Smith will be exceedingly well served with his leadership his impressive track record of accomplishment combined with his deep understanding of issues in higher education and his unique perspective as a graduate all of that combines that he is the tight person, at the right time for this institution. And I am confident that whenI leave my office in Coxe Hall in July I will do so with full confidence that this very special place that we all love so dearly will be led by a man of integrity with a keen intellect and resolve To work with our trustees our students, our staff, and our faculty To take Hobart and William Smith to the next level of excellence. And I know very well And Greg soon will that Hobart and William Smith is so fortunate to have a board leader with him on this journey So join me in welcoming to the podium that leader, our board chair, Tom Buzzuto. I usually am insist on going before Mark Trying to follow him is always a challenge Thank you Mark. Today is the culmination of months of effort that started last summer When Mark told me he was planning to conclude his presidency Not the news a board chair wants to hear especially when that president is as well loved and as respected as Mark Gearan. So we did what we do so well at Hobart and William Smith we brought together a group of smart, capable people to tackle the problem And most of those people are here this afternoon would the members of the presidential search committee please stand to be recognized. I have had the privilege of spending a fair amount of time with these people and I can say that they represent the very best of the Colleges. These are people who have dedicated huge amounts of their time and attention to the search for our next president Please join me again for showing our gratitude to these terrific people, our colleagues for their effort, their dedication, and their wisdom I am especially grateful to their co-chairs of the search committee Katherine Elliot and Tom Poole As many of you know, Tommy chaired the search that resulted in Mark Gearan’s appointment 18 years ago So it seemed more than fitting that he should perform his same magic and this time with the very capable Katherine by his side. Now just imagine the extraordinary challenge that face this group that went through this process. How could we ever come up with someone who could fill Mark Gearan’s shoes No one could. But I’m here to tell you that Greg Vincent brings his own very impressive shoes to the job. And it’s my belief that he will create a whole new set of footprints building on the successes of the past decades and leading the colleges into the future successfully After getting his bachelor’s degree in economics and history here at Hobart, Greg went on to earn a law degree from Ohio State and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, he was a civil rights attorney before heading into academia taking on an increasingly complex leadership roles in higher education Greg currently serves at the University of Texas at Austin As vice president for diversity and community engagement, Kellogg Professor of community college leadership and professor of Law His work at UT is unparalleled and has set a new national model of excellence, he manages hundreds of employees and an expansive portfolio that includes a state-wide charter school system. And last summer, after spending several years helping to defend UT’s constitutional rights, his hard work paid off when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that higher education could indeed consider race amid a holistic admissions review In a sea of truly and incredibly qualified candidates and we had a lot of candidates applying for this position Greg’s passion for the liberal arts and his entrepreneurial leadership style stood out I know I speak for members of the search committee and the members of the board of trustees when I tell you that Greg has our full and enthusiastic support our great admiration and our complete respect. I have every confidence in his ability to lead these Colleges. And so it is with great pride that we announce today that the board of trustees unanimously voted to approve the search committee’s recommendation also, unanimous. Naming Dr. Gregory Vincent, a member of the class of 1983 as the 27th president of Hobart College and the 16th president of William Smith College Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Gregory Vincent Good afternoon I am honored and excited to be here today. Thank you, Tom Buzzuto for that introduction, and for your advice and counsel throughout this process. You are among the most dedicated and passionate volunteers I have ever met. And the Colleges are indeed fortunate To have the benefit of your leadership and expertise. And can we give Tom Buzzuto another round of applause I’m looking forward to working closely with you in the coming months. and years Thank you, as well To president Mark Gearan I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again One of the things that drew me back to Hobart and William Smith was the leadership of president Mark Gearan Mark has distinguished himself in American higher education as a president who is principled thoughtful and extremely successful. By every measure Hobart and William Smith have thrived under Mark’s leadership and the Colleges, as a result are in a balanced position of opportunity. I’m grateful for everything he has done for HWS and for the many kindnesses he and Mary have extended to me, to my wife Kim and to our family, can we give up for president Mark Gearan I am grateful to have my wife Kim with me today Kim is an accomplished lawyer and a powerful advocate whose career has been dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless. Kim is an incredible spouse, mother, and I’m proud to say that I married well above my station. Together we are pleased to see our older children thrive and begin to lead their own lives of consequence and Kim and I are looking forward to moving to Geneva and to becoming members of the community. We will be joined by Cameron, our middle schooler, our two dogs and i’m sad to report that our fish Jacques-Henri will not make the trip. We are joined by members of the search committee who have dedicated months of their lives to this process. I wish to thank , in particular, the co-chairs Katherine Elliot and Tommy Poole for their guidance and friendship. Can we give them again another round of applause? And I really appreciate all the members of the search committee and particularly the student trustees and for you students out there you are represented so well by your trustees and it was a great indication of the quality and excellence of Hobart and William Smith. I’m happy to see in the audience Many of the faculty, staff, and students and Geneva community who greeted me so Warmly when Kim and I came to campus a month ago and I see my economics advisor Chris Gunn Chris – I can’t say Chris, Professor Gunn I still have a paper you that you shared and I remain in awe the amount of time and care you put in to giving me that feedback and it was that inspiration that I try to give my students many decades ago so I thank you and you represent the best of the faculty here at Hobart and William Smith. And thank you to those joining us via livestream especially my parents Hi, mom and dad! Family, members of the division of diversity and community engagement the University fo Texas and Austin Communities, fellow alums, and my village, who have supported me from childhood to present, I am here because of your support and love. This is, in many ways a homecoming for me, a return to the place that was beginning. Hobart and William Smith sparked my intellectual curiosity My faculty mentors and Deans challenged me to see the world in different ways and push me to consider new viewpoints and opinions. As a student, as a statesman, as a resident advisor, I was compelled to work harder dig deeper, to exceed Expectations. Hobart and William Smith changed my life. And gave me the tools to pursue a career as a civil rights attorney, a professor and as a college administrator. And now, a college president. Ultimately, the lessons I learned at Hobart and William Smith led me right back here to the place where it all began. It will be an honor to serve as president and to work with all of you to continue to advance the colleges. Many will tell you that we are facing a crisis in higher education. That the challenges of cost, access, and outcomes are insurmountable. That it’s not worth it. But I believe passionately that higher education and especially a liberal arts education and especially a liberal arts education at Hobart and William Smith Colleges have never been more important. The change we wish to see in the world must start at our colleges and universities. The place where many of our students for the first time in their lives will confront those who look and think differently than themselves. College is a time when young people come together in meangful ways to work together, to interact with one another, to learn together, to live together. And at Hobart and William Smith, they do so under the mentorship of faculty advisors like I had, who guide and challenge them to embrace diversity of thought, identity, and perspective. When our students graduate, they head into a world that favors those with the capacity to adapt and change. Our graduates will reinvent themselves five or six times. Switching careers, moving across the country, and indeed, the world. The skills and attitude they acquire at Hobart and William Smith: critical thinking, and communication, perseverance and tenacity, will serve them well. What I very much appreciate about a Hobart and William Smith education is that, at its very core, are a set of values and ideals that have remained unchanged and that resonate powerfully with me. Respect, dignity, passion, inclusion, humanity. These are the ideals at the heart of a life of consequence. We demonstrate these ideals through the side variety of academic programs we offer our commitment to teaching, learning, and research. Our steadfast determination to be good stewards of the environment, our deep engagement with the community, our emphasis on on study abroad, and leadership programming. Our intention to assuring students are prepared for graduate school and careers, and our focus on preparing students to lead lives of consequence. And so, to alumni and alumnae I pledge tp uphold the traditions of the past, as we also look to the future. To our parents, I pledge to honor the trust you place in the Colleges when you send your daughters and sons to us. To our faculty and staff I pledge to do everything I can to enhance teaching and learning and to foster a climate of inclusion and respect. And to our students, I pledge to work everyday so that you have the same wonder, the same connection to ideas and experiences, and that same mentorship that I experienced as a student. I am honored to serve as your next president. Thank you. So that was fun! Thank you all so much for coming, we have a wonderful reception and Dr. Vincent and Kim will be here as well as the search committee this is a moment of great importance so we thank you all so much for coming. One colleague said to us before we came out that Greg and I have the same glasses And I observed that it’s true but I did say to him the problem is, I was your height whenI started. So good luck, Greg! So anyway, join us for the reception, this is great day thank you all so much for coming!