February 2, 2001
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The November 17 and December 1, 2001 minutes were approved as written.
President Studley opened with recent good news about support for the College. She reported that Skidmore has received a grant from the Christian Johnson Endeavor Foundation in the amount of $280,000 to support Skidmore’s assessment project. Skidmore is moving forward to the next stage of the very competitive Luce Professorship project for a professorship connected to the Tang Museum and the Liberal Studies program. In addition, Marjorie Litz Burgess '49 and her husband, Dick, have funded $300,000 toward the cyber café in the Case Campus Center, and the family of Nathalie Potter Voorhees '45 donated over $1 million to endow scholarships and Tang Museum operating expenses. To date, total Annual Fund giving is up $1 million over last year.
President Studley said that one of the main tasks this year centers on the strategic planning process and a series of conversations across the College and its larger community about Skidmore. IPC has taken on the task of coordinating this process and President Studley asked Professor Mary Lynn, a member of IPC, to comment.
Professor Lynn reported that in the information-gathering phase, over 500 people participated in roundtable discussions, and over 1,100 people responded to the survey. Many others wrote their thoughts on planning walls. Faculty, staff, alumni, parents, trustees and students all participated. A sub-committee of IPC, known as the Distillation Committee and co-chaired by her and Dean Berman, began work over winter break to carefully read all the information gathered and put it into manageable form. The Distillation Committee's report will soon be on the web, and IPC is now selecting the most important issue for further community conversations.
President Studley thanked the people on the distillation committee for the generous commitment of their time. (The members are Tracy Barlok, John Berman, Keith Kirshner ’02, Tad Kuroda, Mary Lynn, Pat Oles, Bernie Possidente and with support from Ann Knickerbocker, Ann Henderson, Joe Stankovich and Jim Gette.) The information gathered shows that there is a great deal of agreement from almost all participants about the "soul" of Skidmore and what the College does and does not do well. The close relationship between the faculty and the students, the excellent teaching, and the quality of the faculty were noted as some of the things most central to Skidmore's soul and success. At the top of the list of things Skidmore does not do well are priority setting and resisting extraordinary demands on people’s time. Other concerns were the level of effective diversity in the community and the lack of financial resources.
The complete distillation report will be shared with the community shortly via a web site. In March there will be a discussion at the faculty meeting after the report is released, and IPC will be soliciting reactions and engaging the College in identifying priorities and challenges for Skidmore’s future.
President Studley went on to say that the strategic planning process is a tool to ensure that Skidmore is headed in the right direction. It provides the College with the opportunity to work together, sharpen the College’s focus on what is important, and help make Skidmore an even better place.
DEAN OF THE FACULTY’S REPORT
Dean Berman took the occasion to summarize his reactions to date to Skidmore and some significant issues. He reported that, as a newcomer to the College, he has found Skidmore to be a very friendly place. People are incredibly supportive and friendly, which has meant a lot to him. He said that it is a pleasure to interact with so many smart, creative and interesting people from a variety of disciplines who share common goals. Decisions are extremely well thought out and articulated, and there is a lot of positive energy here.
Dean Berman reported that there are some who worry about the long-term survival of small liberal arts colleges. Technology is one threat because the Internet could compete for students. Larger schools are also a threat because they are trying to simulate the environment of the small liberal arts colleges. Some liberal arts colleges have much larger endowments compared to Skidmore’s and also offer merit scholarships. Dean Berman sees higher education becoming more and more student centered, but Skidmore has an advantage because it has always emphasized students.
Another challenge is the lack of time, which seems to be a major problem at Skidmore, and in our culture as a whole. The faculty is torn in many directions. Hiring more faculty is one solution to time pressures. Another solution would be to have non-faculty do more to free up the faculty’s time to do teaching and scholarship. Streamlining the faculty governance structure is another option as well as streamlining administrative tasks.
Dean Berman said that the College is embarking on a process where choices will have to be made, which is something that is difficult in the academy and at Skidmore. In the planning data collection, he saw many comments that Skidmore needs to do a better job of making decisions. His perception is that we do say "no;" it's just that people in the community don't accept a "no." Issues have to be revisited and reconsidered. If the planning process is to be successful, the community will have to make some decisions and live with some that are disagreed with. He went on to say that it is important to keep in mind that we can't set the criterion for doing something to be that there are no good reasons for not doing it. That is, we won't find something where there are 100 good reasons to do something and no good reasons not to do it. If so, we would have done it a long time ago. We'll be lucky if the split is 60/40 i.e., 60 good reasons to do it and 40 good reasons not to do it; and, we have to be ready for 51/49 situations.
He said that he felt that the curricular debate was a good example. There were a lot of good arguments on both sides. Because someone voted for one of the motions does not means he/she could not see good reasons for voting against it as well. It means that the person found the preponderance of good reasons to be in the direction of voting for it.
Dean Berman emphasized that Skidmore is in a very enviable position, and it is easy to see when coming from the outside. It’s a great small, residential liberal arts college and the planning process gives Skidmore an opportunity and a structure to make it even better.
Dean Berman reported that IRC has been dealing with information resources, i.e., library and technology issues. IRC is in the process of forming an information technology plan that will dovetail with strategic planning. A series of lunches are being conducted to gather information from a cross-section of the Skidmore community to learn about how technology is used. IRC has also been working on the computer inventory, and he asked Bret Ingerman, Director and Chief Tech Services Officer of CITS, to comment.
Bret Ingerman said that the recent computer inventory revealed that the College owns 1,447 computers. This inventory was done to determine whether or not the College could make better use of its resources by coming up with a regular cycle of computer replacement. In the next few weeks, the department chairs will receive a list of the technology in their departments.
IRC formed a committee on technology enhanced classrooms. Also on its agenda was the subject of personal announcements on email about which IRC decided to do nothing.
Professor Joanna Zangrando made the following resolution for the University Without Walls:
RESOLVED, that the faculty of Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Bachelor of Arts degree to seven students and the Bachelor of Science degree to six students.
BACHELOR OF ARTS
David Stewart Birch
Theresa Rodriquez Farrisi
Daniel Hugh Gregory
Cecilia Taylor Hofmann
Kathleen J. Oakley
Michael John Weeks
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE
Marjorie P. Brooks
Paula M. Luciani
Marjorie A. Remias
Vanessa Eve Wales
Jon Ramsey announced that the Dean of Studies Office, the Office of the Registrar and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty will be holding a series of focus group discussions regarding faculty advising at Skidmore to determine how it can be improved. Focus group discussions will be held in the next couple of weeks with faculty members, and discussions will be held with students at a future date. There will be surveys as well. President Studley has provided Mellon funds for this project.
President Studley said that the time spent on this advising project will be justified by making advising more rewarding for both students and faculty.
- Professor David Domozych, Chair of the Faculty Development Committee, reminded the faculty that the deadline for submitting nominations for the Ralph A. Cianco Award for Excellence in Teaching is February 9, 2001. Nominations along with supporting material should be sent to Professor Domozych in the Department of Biology. The faculty initiative grant deadline is February 5, summer collaborative research grant applications are due by February 19, and the third round of the Tang exhibit awards are due February 23.
- Michael Casey introduced Mike Sposilli, new Director of Alumni Affairs.
- Don McCormack invited the faculty to the reception in the Dana Atrium courtesy of the Office of Special Programs.
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty