Joyce Jacobsen

Joyce Jacobsen, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges

GENEVA — For the first time in its history, Hobart and William Smith Colleges has a female president.

On Friday afternoon at the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts, HWS officials introduced Joyce Jacobsen as the 29th president of Hobart College and the 18th president of William Smith College. She will assume her new duties July 1.

Jacobsen currently serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

HWS officials said Jacobsen is a “renowned scholar of economics, an award-winning teacher and an experienced administrator.”

She has degrees from Harvard, The London School of Economics and Stanford University. HWS said she has more than three decades of experience “taking on increasingly complex roles in higher education.”

HWS said Jacobsen received the unanimous recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee. She is the first woman to serve as president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“President Jacobsen is a prominent scholar and an esteemed educator with a deep understanding of the interdisciplinary inquiry so vital to our mission here at Hobart and William Smith,” said Tom Bozzuto, chairman of the HWS Board of Trustees in a press release. “In her work with students and colleagues in the academy, and with preeminent national and international organizations, she has distinguished herself as a remarkable leader with the experience, values and vision to pilot the Colleges to new heights.”

“I am struck by the scope of Hobart and William Smith’s impact in Geneva and around the globe, and am looking forward to working with a community so clearly invested in questions, ideas and actions that make the world a better, brighter place,” Jacobsen said. “The Colleges have deservedly earned a reputation for trailblazing academic programs led by a talented faculty and staff; a remarkably engaged pool of alumni and alumnae; and students of deep curiosity and creativity. I couldn’t be more excited to join this vibrant community.”

HWS said Jacobsen is described by her colleagues as an “authentic scholar and a person of deep character.”

As provost and senior vice president for academic affairs,  said HWS, Jacobsen oversees the entire academic enterprise, including athletics, institutional research and community partnerships. At Wesleyan, said HWS, “she has been a thoughtful contributor to student affairs and equity and inclusion, while also helping to create fundraising and stewardship plans and collaborating on admissions and enrollment strategies.”

According to HWS, Jacobsen is also involved in planning the university’s budget, including supervision of a considerable annual portfolio.

“Joyce Jacobsen has made myriad contributions to Wesleyan University as a teacher, scholar, colleague, faculty leader and, for the last several years, as provost,” said Wesleyan University President Michael Roth. “Our university has benefited immeasurably from her many years of innovative thinking and caring practice, and I have every confidence that she will bring these qualities to her new position as president of Hobart and William Smith. We will miss her.”

Jacobsen is married to Bill Boyd, a visiting scholar in the Quantitative Analysis Center at Wesleyan, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, an M.S. in computer science from the University of Memphis, and a B.S. in physics from Rhodes College. Jacobsen and Boyd have two grown children, Catherine Boyd and Kenneth Boyd. Jacobsen has two grown stepchildren, Will Boyd and Kara Boyd Nunn; and five step-grandchildren. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Jacobsen is the only child of William Jacobsen, Professor Emeritus of English at University of Nevada, Reno, an expert on North American Indian languages, including Makah, Salinan and Washoe, and Virginia Chan, an academic administrator who worked for the Basque Studies program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The presidential search, led by committee co-chairs and vice chairs of the HWS Board of Trustees Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish and Andy McMaster, began in June of 2018. The Colleges consulted with the Chicago-based executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, which helped identify candidates and coordinate the process that led to the selection of Jacobsen.

For more on this story, see Sunday’s Finger Lakes Times.

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