June 2, 1999 - Rochester Times: Peace Corps director, ex-Clinton staffer to take helm of Hobart and William Smith

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Mark D. Gearan: August 11, 1995-August 11, 1999 : Gearan: June 2, 1999 - Rochester Times: Peace Corps director, ex-Clinton staffer to take helm of Hobart and William Smith

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Peace Corps director, ex-Clinton staffer to take helm of Hobart and William Smith

Peace Corps director, ex-Clinton staffer to take helm of Hobart and William Smith

Geneva colleges select a president

Peace Corps director, ex-Clinton staffer to take helm of Hobart and William Smith

By Michael Wentzel
Democrat and Chronicle

(June 2, 1999) -- Mark D. Gearan, the director of the Peace Corps and a friend and adviser to President Clinton, will become president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Gearan (pictured), who has served as White House director of communications and campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore, will move from the fast-paced and confrontational world of Washington to the Seneca Lake campus of small, liberal arts colleges in Geneva.

"I wanted, in the next phase of my life, to be part of an organization that is mission-oriented and values-centered," he said. "I found that at Hobart and William Smith. Their commitment to diversity and academic excellence are things I prize."

At 42, he will be one of the youngest presidents of an undergraduate institution. He will succeed Richard H. Hersh, president of Hobart and William Smith for eight years, later this summer.

Although Gearan has not held any traditional academic jobs, most faculty members are excited by his appointment.

"He has been head of the Peace Corps, bringing it back from parlous times," said Donald Woodrow, a professor of geoscience and a member of the presidential search committee. "He deals with academics all the time. He knows campuses. He's a quick read. He's a very good planner, and he can manage -- those are key words on campuses today. He has great sympathy for liberal arts colleges. He sounds like a good fit to me."

Gearan said he was attracted to the international programs and the emphasis on service and volunteerism at the colleges. More than 60 percent of Hobart and William Smith students study abroad before they graduate.

"His background in public service in the international arena is an excellent fit with these colleges," said Charles Salisbury, chairman of the colleges' board of trustees.

In a statement from the White House, Clinton described Gearan as "gifted, humane, a leader and deeply committed to the education of young people."

Gearan, a native of Gardner, Mass., earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University and his law degree from Georgetown University.

As director of the Peace Corps since 1995, he has been credited with building bipartisan support for the organization and for a Clinton proposal to expand the Peace Corps from almost 7,000 volunteers to 10,000 by 2003.

Before taking over the Peace Corps, Gearan was White House deputy chief of staff and also director of communications. He weathered appearances before the Whitewater grand jury and congressional investigation committees.

Besides serving as Gore's campaign manager in 1992, he served as a senior member of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign. He also worked as an aide to two members of Congress.

Although acknowledging he has things to learn about the academic world, Gearan said he wants to build on the "well-known and well-regarded legacy" of the colleges.

He said he has not tired of Washington politics. But, with two young daughters, he said the quality of life was important to him and to his wife, Mary Herlihy Gearan.

He also says he believes in the value of a liberal arts education.

"The world is changing at such a fast pace that in the next century people who have a liberal arts education -- who know how to think, to reason and to write -- will be appreciated even more by our society," Gearan said.

Hersh leaves the colleges to accompany his wife, Judith Meyers, who became director of the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut.

Hersh initiated a reform of Hobart fraternities and helped fund and support major changes in the curriculum. He also oversaw the most successful fund-raising campaign in the history of the colleges, which brought in $102 million.

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Story Source: Rochester Times

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