Within some of her first weeks on campus, President Joyce P. Jacobsen seems as optimistic and pragmatic as she did during her acceptance of the position back in February. In an effort to gauge how her adjustment has been since her arrival, the Herald sat down with the President during her school-wide open office hours.
After being announced as the 29th president of Hobart College and 18th president of William Smith and officially stepping into her position on July 1 of this year, Jacobsen has already outlined much of her vision, as well as established her position as an active resident and participant of the Colleges. Before students arrived on campus, she managed to visit and tour every residence and academic facility on campus. Since the arrival of students she has almost completed her goal of visiting every physical space, with only a few left, such as the solar farm, which she will be visiting soon with Professor Thomas Drennen, who orchestrated the installation of the farm in 2016.
More than just being physically active on campus, Jacobsen has also established a strong investment into the goals, ideas, and activities of the student body over which she presides. This can be shown in her attendance records at almost all of the current practicing sports teams, as well as a flexible calendar for invitations to other groups and clubs on campus. A recent example was her attendance at the first William Smith Congress and Hobart Student Government joint meeting of the year, where she made herself available to questioning from student government members.
Another one of the primary ways that she intends to continue to cultivate this active presence is through her bi-monthly office hours and open houses. Meant as a time for students to approach the president, whether that is for students who wish to express concerns or those who want to just talk about their day, the open office hours are a sweeping evolution of the president’s role on the HWS campus.
Later in the semester, as well as throughout the year, Jacobsen will also be hosting class open houses, with each class year being designated a certain date to visit the president, and her famous cat Mr. Butters (@mrbuttershws), at her home on South Main Street. Having hosted a total of two out of seven office hours already this semester, held the first-year class open house, and announced her active and open email address, Jacobsen has made sure to make herself accessible to students.
More than just investing in the interests and opinions of the student body, Jacobsen is also investing in the intellectual and social capital of HWS in both the present and future. When asked about her hopes for the future of the Colleges, she reiterated her pragmatic and consistent approach regarding her many goals. These goals, which encompass everything from new science buildings and equipment to writing a William Smith fight song, are all what we call S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based). While many are vast in scope, Jacobsen’s first attempt at attacking certain issues is establishing specific task forces. Some task forces already underway are in place to address the use of Fribolin Farm, the hiring of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and the search for a new Provost.
In the conclusion of our conversation, President Jacobsen discussed with the Herald the history of the carpet that covered the entirety of her office on the second floor of Coxe, as it has been the matting of more than 25 different HWS presidents. The Herald was intrigued by the office space itself, as most students are likely unaware that Coxe has a second floor or houses the president’s quarters. This epiphany establishes perfectly the type of president Jacobsen hopes to be: Present, Attentive, and Revolutionary.