September 11, 2009
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections or comments to the May 13, 2009 Faculty Meeting minutes. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach welcomed everyone back for a new academic year. He thanked Richard Chrisman, Interim Director of Spiritual Life, Rabbi Linda Motzkin, the Jewish Chaplain, and Catherine Minnery, Coordinator of Catholic Student Life, for organizing the interfaith prayer reflection in memory of all those lost on 9/11. A moment of silence was observed in memory of 9/11.
Admissions Report. Cathy DeLorenzo, Senior Associate Director, introduced Beth Post-Lundquist as the new Director of Financial Aid. Beth has over 20 years of financial aid experience and has served as Director of Financial Aid at both Union College and SUNY, Albany.
Cathy reported on the incoming class: 632 new students from the Class of 2013 arrived on Sunday, September 6; 33 new students for the London program also arrived on campus in late August. Total students for the Class of 2013, both on campus and in London, are 665, which is 11 under the revised target of 676. Summer melt was higher than usual; the economy impacted the melt as some of the students who enrolled in May asked to defer their enrollment for a year for economic reasons.
While we were slightly under our target for our first year students, we were 8 over target for transfers. The total number of new students is 713 (665 first years and 48 transfers) against an overall target of 716. The class is 63 percent female and 37 male; 62 percent attended public high school and 38 percent attended private or parochial school; 37 percent enrolled early-decision; 20 percent self-identified as students of color, which is the third straight year at 20 percent or more; 3 percent are international students and 6 percent hold dual passports; 12 percent have former family ties to Skidmore; and the median SAT score is 1,250, which is down 10 points from last year but similar to two years ago.
Admissions is now well into the recruiting cycle for the Class of 2014; they will be visiting over 800 high schools and community-based organizations (nationally and internationally) and have already completed two weeks of recruitment in Asia. Cathy concluded by thanking everyone, on behalf of Admissions, for all their support this past year.
Dean of Student Affairs Report. Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs, introduced Richard Chrisman as the new, part-time Interim Director of Religious and Spiritual Life. Reverend Chrisman has been the administrator for the United Church of Christ and has served as the University Chaplain at Tufts University and Assistant Dean of the Chapel at Princeton University. Reverend Chrisman will be on campus on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Dean Calhoun also introduced Meg Hegener as the new Coordinator for Students with Disabilities. Meg has a long history of working with students with special needs and disabilities and most recently worked in our Opportunities Program.
Dean Calhoun also noted that Darren Bennett is continuing as Interim Director of Student Leadership Activities, and Mariel Martin is continuing as the Director of Student Diversity Programs.
Dean Calhoun provided an update on the college’s plans for the H1N1 virus. Over the summer, an operational planning group has been preparing for the H1N1. Based upon reports from both the CDC and the World Health Organization, it is anticipated that the virus will be more widespread than last year but will not be a more severe mutation. To date, seven students have presented at health services with flu-like symptoms.
The operational planning group is thinking forward on how the College will respond when we begin to see larger numbers of the virus in our community and identifying how we can isolate larger groups of students. The other main strategy the group has been working on is to keep the community well-informed, both locally and nationally. Dean Calhoun noted that a letter was sent to students and parents this summer in preparation of their return to campus and that the faculty received a letter from Dean Poston regarding absenteeism and the delivery of courses. Communications has updated the H1N1 website, which has the most accurate and up-to-date information about the H1N1 virus.
Students and others in the community are being asked to stay home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and to seek medical attention if extreme symptoms are experienced. While H1N1 is a particular strain of the flu and a special vaccine is being developed, the students are also being reminded of the seasonal flu. As Skidmore is a point of distribution because of the age of our students, a clinic will be established for the H1N1 vaccine once it has been developed, and the College will be required to follow certain protocols on the distribution of the vaccine. Professor Ray Giguere asked when the H1N1 vaccine might be available; Dean Calhoun noted that it is anticipated to be available for distribution in late October or early November. Dean Calhoun concluded by noting that the H1N1 vaccine will be free and the seasonal flu vaccine will be available for a nominal charge.
President Glotzbach thanked Lary Opitz for agreeing to serve as parliamentarian again this year.
President Glotzbach announced that we had a great opening to school this year and thanked the many departments across campus that collaborated to make the opening smooth. He also thanked those members of the faculty who attended the opening convocation. President Glotzbach noted that he was pleased to hear so many positive and enthusiastic comments from the new students, the parents, and the faculty at the President’s Reception this year. He noted that we have enrolled a spectacular entering class this year, which suggests that, perhaps, we need to revise our thinking about how we measure our success in admissions. In the past, we focused on our selectivity percentages, which have been dropping every year; then, this past year we were down about 1,000 in our overall applicant pool. We accepted almost the same number of students we did the previous year, but our selectivity percentage jumped back up. Yet, we have what appears to be an even stronger entering class. There are a number of other assumptions that we have made about operations and about how we do things that we really need to challenge and to think about seriously.
President Glotzbach discussed the letter distributed across campus earlier in the week describing the College’s economic situation. We should keep in mind that we are not the only institution facing budget problems in the next few years. Over the coming weeks and months, we will have additional opportunities to review our financial data and to consider together the steps we are going to need to take to ensure that our future is better than our past has been. President Glotzbach acknowledged the understandable anxiety resulting from talk about reductions in force and indicated that there will be opportunities to discuss this in the future.
President Glotzbach indicated that there will be three themes this year that will be central to our discussions. First, it is essential that we re-establish the college’s finances on a foundation that will once again permit us to develop sustainable budgets that include appropriate investments in financial aid, compensation, programs, and physical plant and technology. We are going to have to do some budget realignment over the coming year to make sure that we can get back on a footing where we can make the appropriate strategic financial investments in the coming years.
Second, citing Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, President Glotzbach noted that we are entering a time of rising public skepticism regarding the value of high quality and high priced liberal arts colleges, which will amplify the increasing consequences of our escalating prices to limit the number of families who will be able to consider schools such as Skidmore in the future. The consequence of the confluence of these two forces (our rising prices and concern whether we are worth our price) is enormously increased competition for those students who will be left in the liberal arts college applicant pool. This is not going to be a short-term trend; over the coming years, we will truly engage in a struggle to determine whether a relatively young liberal arts college with limited resources and unlimited aspirations can long endure. While we are not at risk of going out of business, we are at risk over the coming years of losing the students we need to continue seeking increasing levels of excellence in the performance of our students and ourselves. The outcome of this struggle is going to hinge on our ability to position the college to be even more competitive in the future in relation to our peers than we have been in the past. We must do this continuing to increase both our value and our ability to distinguish ourselves from other schools.
Lastly, we are going to be intentional this year about having a shared conversation. In her welcome back letter to the faculty, VPAA Kress mentioned a series of town hall meetings that will be held with members of the extended Skidmore family, both across the country and on campus. We are entering the fifth year of our 10-year Strategic Plan and are operating now in an environment that is different than it was five years ago when we wrote that Plan. It is an appropriate moment to pause to see what we have accomplished under the Plan and to talk together about the strategic investments of our time, energy, and financial resources that we need to make over the coming years to continue advancing the Plan’s ambitious and worthy goals -- and to continue pursuing our aspirations.
President Glotzbach noted that we are not asking everyone to begin thinking of these large strategic questions and worrying about the future of the College all the time. Most of the time, we need to focus on our individual jobs. However, all of us need to do our work these days with a greater awareness of the larger strategic context in which we are operating. Above all, as we focus on our work, we must make sure our students are being challenged and learning what we expect them to learn.
President Glotzbach concluded by stating that we are really doing a terrific job at the College. He noted that every year at Commencement, Media Services does quick interviews with our graduates asking them about their experiences at Skidmore. He thought last year’s graduates seemed more positive and enthusiastic about their experiences than any other graduating class. This was the first class that went through the First-Year Experience and there may be a correlation. One of the other things that he noticed about what they said in their interviews was how many different members of the faculty different students mentioned as being the person who really gave them the most, who really inspired them, the person who transformed their life, or the person who really epitomized the Skidmore experience for them. That is pretty remarkable, and it speaks very well for the faculty and the work being done here – we are doing something very right.
President Glotzbach wished everyone a great year and concluded by relaying a story of a new student he met at one of the FYE seminars who said that Skidmore has a “relaxed intensity” about it – people are pretty calm on the surface, but underneath people are pretty intense about what they are doing and what they are thinking is going on in class. In some ways, that does capture about what we are about here.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT
Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Kress welcomed all colleagues, and especially new colleagues, to a new academic year; she recognized those returning from sabbaticals. She introduced Nils Nilsson as the STINT Fellow from Sweden, who will be joining the Management & Business Department in the fall. The STINT program provides an opportunity for someone from Sweden to come to Skidmore to observe how a liberal arts institution works.
VPAA Kress quoted two passages from Mary Lynn’s history of Skidmore College, pointing out that trouble has always been Skidmore’s close companion. She said, in relation to the economic climate, that Skidmore has always been tested, but somehow through sheer grit, guts, creativity and a certain tenacious pizzaz, we will continue to be the little college that can – and will. There is no question that we are facing challenges, as are all our peers, and we will hold fast in Academic Affairs to the priorities that we have agreed on as a community, those priorities that unite us: promoting the success and achievement of our students through excellent programs (and we will need to hold all of our programs to very high standards) – and supporting and retaining our most precious resource, the faculty.
As part of our academic planning, Academic Affairs will be moving forward on a few highly strategic initiatives – the Zankel Music Center, which is scheduled to open in the Spring; the arts administration program, funded by the Zankel family; the first steps of constructing the map that will lead us toward the science vision; the continued work on intercultural literacy; and the continued work on assessment. Academic Affairs is also working on a long-range plan to support faculty development across a number of different dimensions that will include recommendations from the Center Study Group (the CSG Report can be found on the Academic Affairs website): we hope this plan will help foster an environment in which teaching, learning, and scholarship can flourish. These are all powerful initiatives for us and we will move them forward, even though we may have to take very small steps on some of them; but having the vision in mind of where we want to be will help keep us on track.
Skidmore does not have the luxury of ignoring what is going on outside our walls. Even though we have our own special challenges, being aware of the issues facing higher education in general and liberal arts colleges in particular that President Glotzbach addressed is really important for all of us. We hear all around us that, as a liberal arts college, we cost too much, we are inefficient in our pedagogies, and we are irrelevant to a world that measures value by how much our students earn when they leave rather than what they know and what they aspire to do. These are criticisms we must face and explore; we are, as academics, always emphasizing self-examination and self-reflection. Now President Glotzbach’s revisioning exercise will give us that opportunity to take a hard look at who we are, how we spend our time, what we are doing, and what we can do better. We need as well the culture of evidence that assessment tools provide so that we know much more reliably what our students know, what they can do, and what they go on to be.
In addition to understanding the national picture, we also need to understand our own big picture. At the Academic Affairs retreat last week, we began a year-long project called Skidmore 101, a project to deepen awareness about the operations of the College. We looked at the challenges to our budget and particularly the matter of tuition and financial aid. We looked at the arc of our relationship to our students: the complexity of enrolling them; the evidence we have gathered about what engages them while they are here; and our continuing responsibility to them after they have left. These are the things we have been looking at in that group; in subsequent meetings, we will be looking at the curriculum, at faculty time, and at various other key projects as a context for the revisioning exercise.
We also need to think about the big picture because, as we move forward on certain cost-cutting measures, we may be inconvenienced – the light may go off at the wrong moment, the trash may not always have been picked up, or our calls for repair may not be immediately answered. As we try to save money and cut costs, we may have to adjust our expectations about the things we have gotten very comfortable about and have taken for granted.
And even as we keep our eye on the big picture, we also need to keep our eye on the center, on the heart of what we do: our work with the students – the transformations that are daily enacted all around us through teaching, learning, collaborative research, scholarly work, advising, and mentoring, all the myriad ways that we promote the success of our students. That is the central and primary focus we need to keep.
As we think about and make the case for our value, not our price, it is worth noting that we are very fortunate to be able to select very carefully our new students and our new faculty colleagues. We are highly selective, and we want to be highly selective, because, in a small place like this everybody makes a difference and everybody’s voice counts. There are so many in this very room that have made a huge difference to Skidmore – those who created and implemented liberal studies and the first year experience, those who created other academic programs, those who chaired committees through exceptionally difficult policy recommendations, those who built a museum, those who created the kinds of services that our students now count upon. Our President has made a huge difference in implementing key measures in the Strategic Plan; our students have made a difference in the clubs they have established and the programs they have brought to campus.
VPAA Kress concluded by noting that one of the things we do well is modeling how to make a difference – we model making a difference for our students and they model it right back at us. Transformation comes from everywhere. As we greet, in particular, our new colleagues, we expect that they are going to make a difference and we are open to the difference they will make.
Dean of Special Programs Report. Jeff Segrave, Dean of Special Programs, welcomed everyone back and reported on the success of the summer programs: we had 2,500 residential guests, 4,000 total program participants, and 8,500 audience participants. Highlights of the summer included the Paul Taylor and Paul Taylor 2 Dance Companies, the Jazz Institute, the Writers Institute, the SITI theater residency, the Young Writers Institute, the Flute Institute, the International Women Writers Guild, the Center for Talented Youth and the New York State Summer School of the Arts. We had a 9 percent increase in the number of our undergraduate students in the summer term and had about 70 grant-funded research students on campus.
Dean Segrave reported that, for the MALS Program, Grace Burton delivered a successful seminar entitled “Nothing Doing”; he also noted that Michael Mudrovic took office on September 1 as the new Director of MALS. In addition, even as the University Without Walls Program is phasing out, the UWW students are being welcomed and embraced as members of the alumni body; in that regard, the first alumni event in the Tang was held this summer for UWW students.
Dean Segrave announced the fall’s special events:
- Benny Morris will be the Greenberg Middle East Scholar in Residence; he will make a presentation on September 29 entitled “Back to the Beginning” and Robert Malley will join him on October 8 for a panel discussion entitled “After Camp David: The Future of the Two State Solution,” moderated by Steve Hoffmann.
- In collaboration with the First Year Experience, Special Programs sponsored Eric Foner, author of the anthology on Lincoln that all our first year students read, who made a very successful presentation on September 10.
- The McCormack Endowed Visiting Scholar-in-Residence this year will be Bill T. Jones, and he will be on campus for an event on October 26, 2009.
- The Carnegie Hall musicians will be coming in October as well.
- The 29th Annual Mature Adults Lecture Series will commence in October, and community members are encouraged to respond to the call for participation.
Dean Segrave concluded by thanking all his staff members, particularly Sharon Arpey and Jim Chansky, who worked on all the summer programs, as well as all the offices and departments that support Special Programs across the campus.
Dean of the Faculty Report. Muriel Poston, Dean of the Faculty, welcomed everyone back to a new academic year. She recognized the extraordinary work of the faculty in the Summer Faculty-Student Research Program, which was coordinated by Mark Hofmann. This summer, over 50 students worked with 34 faculty on 39 different programs spanning the entirety of our academic programs, which is a dramatic increase since Dean Poston’s arrival in 2005-2006, when there were approximately 20 students in the program.
Dean Poston announced the new department chairs and program directors: Dan Nathan, American Studies; Ray Giguere, Chemistry; Mason Stokes, English; Matt Hockenos, History; Regina Janes, Asian Studies; and John Brueggemann, acting chair in Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work. She also thanked the department chairs and program directors continuing in their appointments and indicated that she looks forward to working with them this coming year.
Dean Poston reminded the faculty that the office of the Dean of Studies is now known as the Office of Academic Advising; the website and email contact have all been changed from the title of Dean of Studies.
Dean Poston also announced the promotions that were approved by the Board of Trustees at its May meeting: Beau Breslin, Government, promoted to professor; James Kennelly, Management & Business, promoted to professor; Holley Hodgins, Psychology, promoted to professor; and Joerg Bibow, Economics, promoted to associate professor.
Dean Poston also announced that Cori Filson, Director of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges, received the Lily von Klemperer award from NAFSA: Association of International Educators in June. This prestigious award is presented annually to an individual in the field of international education who embodies the values, ethics and ideals of the field of education abroad.
Dean Poston welcomed the new members of the faculty noting there are over 25 new tenure-track and contingent faculty this semester (see attached). The 9 tenure-track faculty are April Bernard, English; Amy Frappier, Geosciences; Kimberly Frederick, Chemistry; Heather Hurst, Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work; Larry Jorgensen, Philosophy; Sang-Wook Lee, Art; Eric Morser, History; Mark Rye, Psychology; and Mark Staton, Management & Business.
Dean Poston concluded by providing an update on the status of the science vision and announcing a pedagogy enhancement program (PEP), stewarded by Beau Breslin, which will focus on new pedagogies and new challenges and opportunities in the classroom in the fall – and on academic advising in the spring. Lastly, she reminded everyone to prepare for the possibility of the H1N1 virus by thinking about alternative methods of communicating with students if a student or faculty member cannot attend class due to the H1N1 virus.
New Student Orientation and Faculty Orientation Update. Beau Breslin, Assistant Dean of the Faculty and Director of the First Year Experience, provided an update on the new student orientation. He thanked everyone involved in the move-in and convocation – Residential Life, Campus Safety, Athletics, and the President’s Office. He also thanked Rochelle Calhoun and David Karp in Student Affairs for their sessions on Monday as well as Michael Ennis-McMillan and the Registrar’s Office for their work with students on Tuesday. Further, he thanked Winston Grady-Willis, Mariel Martin, and Sue Layden for their presentation “Checking Privilege at the Door” as well as Dean Jeff Segrave for the collaboration with the Office of Special Programs on Eric Foner’s presentation on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
Professor Breslin also thanked President Glotzbach and VPAA Kress and all the others who spoke at the New Faculty Orientation held last Friday. New faculty will continue to meet on a monthly basis as members of the Faculty Learning Community along with mentors Erica Bastress-Dukehart, Susannah Mintz, Pat Ferraioli, and Kyle Nichols.
There was no old business.
Erica Bastress-Dukehart, Chair of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), introduced the CEPP members for this year (Terry Diggory, English; Ruben Graciani, Dance; Mimi Hellman, Art History; Rik Scarce, Sociology; Bob Turner, Government; Susan Kress, VP for Academic Affairs; Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Students; and Claire Solomon, SGA Student Representative). She reviewed CEPP’s agenda for this academic year (see attached).
On behalf of CEPP, Erica Bastress-Dukehart, read the following resolution (see attached):
MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty approve the articulation agreement with New York University College of Nursing, which would permit qualified students to complete the requirements for the baccalaureate degree from Skidmore College and the 15 month accelerated baccalaureate nursing degree from NYUCN or a two year non-accelerated baccalaureate nursing degree from NYUCN.
This motion will lie over until the next meeting.
- Dan Hurwitz, on behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, announced that the CEPP will be bringing to the October meeting the 2009-10 Faculty Handbook for adoption.
- Michael Arnush announced a Faculty Interest Group was formed called “The Future of the Liberal Arts: A Faculty Interest Group.” The group’s forum can be accessed at https://academics.skidmore.edu/forum/ under “Faculty Interest Group.” Once the user is logged into the site and returns to the “Index,” the user can access all discussions under “The Future of Liberal Arts.” An initial session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15 from 5:30-7:00 pm in Ladd 207. Professor Arnush requested that anyone interested in attending email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pushi Prasad, Zankel Chair in Management for Liberal Arts Students, announced that the Skidmore Research Colloquium would be held on September 30, 2009 and will feature Kate Graney, Associate Professor and Chair of the Government Department, who will give a lecture based on her recently published book, Of Khans and Kremlins: Tatarstan and the Future of Ethno-Federalism in Russia (Lexington Books, 2009). Professor Prasad requested that all RSVPs be directed to her as soon as possible.
- John Weber, Dayton Director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery, announced that a Mellon faculty seminar will be held in the spring thanks to a Mellon Challenge Grant to bring together faculty interested in pedagogies based on exhibitions, objects, and museums (particularly the Tang). Meetings will be held on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m; the kickoff trip for the program will take place January 18-21 and the group will be visiting various museums in the Boston/Cambridge area. Interested faculty please contact John or Alison Barnes.
- Alison Barnes, the Tang’s faculty liaison, reminded everyone that she is available to support faculty in the process of designing Tang-based assignments. She also requested that those using the Tang in the course of their teaching send her any assignments or a quick note about the application of the Tang. This information will be helpful to the Tang in building an archive on museum-based pedagogy.
- John Weber announced the current exhibit, “Lives of the Hudson,” co-curated by Tom Lewis and Ian Berry, and the other upcoming exhibits and events. He urged everyone to visit the Tang.
- President Glotzbach invited everyone to the President’s Reception being held today at Scribner House immediately following the faculty meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:02 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant