September 9, 2011
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:34 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections to or comments regarding the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held May 18, 2011. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.
On behalf of Marie and himself, President Glotzbach sincerely thanked everyone for all the ways in which the community responded after the death of their daughter, Elizabeth. All the letters, notes, emails, gifts to the Juvenile Diabetes Association, etc. made a huge difference, and it is a tribute to this community for the way people reached out to them during their time of sorrow.
Coming up on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, President Glotzbach remarked that this community was directly affected by losses and, of course, participated in the grief of the nation. In remembrance of that day, a moment of silence was observed. Thereafter, President Glotzbach announced that the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, Rick Chrisman, has organized a small memorial observance in Wilson Chapel and a screening of the film, Beyond Belief, on Sunday, September 11.
Admission’s Report. Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid, reported on the class of 2015:
- Thirty-four students arrived in August for two days of orientation before heading to London; 340 students arrived on September 1 to participate in pre-orientation programs and the remaining 293 students arrived on September 4.
- This fall, there are 633 first-year students on campus (which is 100 less than last year) and 34 in London for a total class of 667.
- This year’s entering class is strong academically; the increase we saw last year in the percent of the class in the top two academic bands held. The median SAT of the class is consistent with last year (1,250 for the first two sections [critical reading and math]), and this year the median of all three sections, including writing, is 1,890 compared with 1,880 last year.
- The students come from 32 states and 32 foreign countries; last year, we had just 19 countries represented.
- Sixty percent of the students attended public school, with 40 percent attending private or parochial schools.
- Forty-two percent of the class is male, which is one of the highest percentages in recent years. Last year, the class was 36 percent male.
- Thirty-nine percent of the class applied and were accepted early decision.
- Forty of the students are enrolled in the Opportunity Programs.
- One hundred and seventy one students in the class, or 26 percent, self-identified as students of color; 134 of those are domestic students of color, which constitutes 20 percent of the class. Another 37 international students self-identified as non-white. The percentage of domestic students of color is down from last year’s 23 percent while the number of international students of color is up. However, the 26 percent all-inclusive number is similar to last year’s.
- Six percent of the class are international students, which is the highest percentage we have ever had; last year, we set a record at 4 percent. This figure reflects our increased international outreach, and we are hopeful this trend will continue.
- An additional six percent of the class is not counted as international because they are U.S. citizens but hold one or more passports from another country, and a number of them have never lived in this country.
- Forty-one percent of the class is on financial aid, which is on target budget-wise, and the average grant approximates $30,000.
- Ten percent of the students come with a former family tie to the College.
- The class of 2015 is a talented, energetic, and diverse group with a significant number actively engaged in community service. They have lived and traveled all over the world, have worked all over the world in all kinds of professions, come from culturally rich and diverse backgrounds, have engaged in internships, and have won many awards.
Dean Bates concluded by introducing Julie DiRoma and Teshika Hatch as new Assistant Directors in the Office of Admissions.
President Glotzbach thanked everyone involved in getting the new academic year off to such a positive start: Admissions, faculty members who advised students over the summer, Student Affairs, Residence Life, Facilities Services, Dining Services, Grounds Crew, Campus Safety, athletes who assisted with the move-in, Office of the First-Year Experience, faculty members teaching Scribner Seminars, and peer mentors. He receives many comments from parents who say Skidmore handles this process so well, everything from the Admissions process to the summer advising to move-in, and he said that he has received no complaints this year. Skidmore has a great move-in process and it just gets the year off to a good start.
As referenced by Dean Bates, last year, Skidmore welcomed the largest class in its history. When you have extra students, you would expect the retention rate to fall from first-year to second-year. Those who were here last fall may remember that President Glotzbach challenged us to see if we could do better in retention than we had in previous years, which had approximated 93-94 percent. President Glotzbach happily announced the retention rate from last year’s first-year students currently stands at 96 percent, a spectacular number that is exceeded by only a handful of schools. (This number most likely will fall a bit over the coming month, but it should remain at a record rate.) Our high retention rate can be attributed to the faculty, Student Affairs, Academic Services, and Athletics, and he congratulated and thanked everyone for all their hard work. This year, President Glotzbach’s challenge is to exceed, next fall, this year’s retention rate.
President Glotzbach addressed the recent personnel changes in Academic Affairs: Muriel Poston stepping down as Dean of the Faculty after six years of service and returning to the Biology Department after some time away to refresh; Jeff Segrave stepping down as Dean of Special Programs after several years of service and returning to the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences; Beau Breslin and Paul Calhoun serving as Interim Dean of the Faculty and Interim Dean of Special Programs, respectively; and Susan Kress’ announcement of her intention to retire at the end of this academic year after many years of service. As indicated to the community this past summer, President Glotzbach will take this opportunity to evaluate the current structure of Academic Affairs. Specifically, he will consider the fact that we have two positions: a VPAA and a Dean of the Faculty, whereas most schools of our kind would only have one. A faculty advisory group will be formed in collaboration with FEC and CAPT to assist in the decision about whether to maintain this structure or return to some form of a unified VPAA/DOF position, and a decision is expected to be announced at the end of October.
Thereafter, the SGA executive committee introduced themselves: Jono Zeidan, President; Thomas Rivera, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Raiza Nazareth, Vice President for Communications and Outreach; Logan Brenner, Vice President for Club Affairs; Jovany Andujar, Vice President for Diversity Affairs; Aaron Shifreen, Vice President for Residential Affairs; Ethan Flum, Vice President for Financial Affairs; and Melvin Langyintuo, InterClass Council Chair. A round of applause was given for the SGA representatives. President Glotzbach noted that every year the SGA identifies a theme that they will pursue, and this year’s theme is “Create the Future.”
On another personnel note, President Glotzbach announced that this summer he named Barbara Krause, Executive Director of the Office of the President and Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives, as an official member of President’s Cabinet. While she has always been present at Cabinet meetings, it confirms her status as a fully-participating member of that group and recognizes her exemplary service over the past five years. A round of applause was given.
Addressing the governance issues that arose last spring among some members of the faculty, specifically, that the Administration had moved too quickly and without appropriate consultation with regard to several initiatives, President Glotzbach noted that both he and VP Kress spoke to these concerns last May, and, at that time, he committed to a series of actions intended to respond to those concerns and help us move forward. He reported that he has been following through on that commitment, and Associate Professor Barbara Black, Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), will provide additional comments during her report.
Thereafter, President Glotzbach provided a preview of this year’s “Strategic Action Agenda,” which will be available shortly. He said our work this year and, in fact, the Strategic Plan itself, begins with two commitments: a commitment to academic excellence and an abiding care for the success of our students. These commitments are combined in a central paragraph of the Strategic Plan:
Our overarching intention … is to become a College that fully realizes the bold promise of our Mission: one that inspires, challenges, and supports the highest levels of excellence for all our students, not just for some or even many of them– as evidenced by their achievements in realizing the values of engaged liberal learning while at Skidmore and expressing them throughout their lives. The Skidmore we envision expects that an intellectually rigorous, transformative educational experience will lead to graduates whose achievements at Skidmore will launch them into the next phase of their lives, who are prepared to function effectively in the complex and increasingly diverse world of the 21st Century, and who understand and embrace the responsibilities of living as informed, responsible citizens.
The major themes of both our discourse last spring and in the work that President Glotzbach proposes to take up anew this year are present in that paragraph. He said the main reason we have undertaken to become a more diverse community than we were when we voted on and accepted the Strategic Plan is that doing so was necessary to fulfilling our mission as a national, highly-selective liberal arts college, to helping our students achieve the excellence that we were talking about in the above paragraph. In the interval, we have welcomed to Skidmore a student body that increasingly brings to our classrooms backgrounds and life experiences that simply were not present to the same extent before. One small example of how this more diverse population that we have now enriches the educational experience for everybody is the “Checking Privilege at the Door” event, which is held every year for first-year students. This event provides an opportunity, among other things, for international students to describe their experiences in coming to this country, how they experience the role race plays in this country, how they feel about themselves, and how they were treated in good and bad ways by Americans they encountered.
President Glotzbach reminded everyone that we are now dealing with dimensions of difference (race, class, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.) that were not as significantly represented here at earlier times in our history. Some of our students have been telling us about the barriers they perceive to their learning and personal development that they encounter here – barriers in the classroom, barriers in the residence hall, barriers on campus and other places – that keep them from achieving the levels of excellence we seek in our teaching and learning and prevent us from achieving the central commitment of the Strategic Plan which is to challenge and support all of our students. We need to listen to what our students are telling us and think about what we can do as a community to remove the barriers that our students perceive, that get in the way of what we say we are trying to achieve with them.
President Glotzbach said that when we held our off-campus and on-campus Town Hall Meetings two years ago, we also heard from alumni, current students and parents, etc. of other barriers that our students encountered after they left Skidmore – barriers that stood in the way of their putting what they learned here to use in their post-Skidmore professional lives. Again, because we care about our students not just while they are here but when they leave here, we began to think about how we can better equip our graduates to understand, articulate and put to use the amazing liberal arts education to which they are exposed at Skidmore. That set of reflections, questions, and conversations was the origin of the Transition and Transformation initiative. That important conversation will continue this year, and President Glotzbach invited everyone to participate.
Also present in the passage of the Strategic Plan President Glotzbach read earlier is the statement that we care about preparing our students to lead lives of informed, responsible citizenship, and that is a phrase that has been around at Skidmore for years. One important dimension of that conversation is reflected in the work on civic engagement that has been ongoing for several years; another extremely important dimension of responsible citizenship is scientific literacy. He said it really isn’t possible today to be an informed, responsible citizen without having a fairly sophisticated understanding of how science works and its pervasive role in our lives. Our conversation about the place of science at Skidmore and how we can best support our students in attaining this crucial knowledge will also be continuing this year; particularly, we have been asking the questions of what we need to do to support science better at Skidmore and what is the place of science in our curriculum. This too is an important conversation, along with the topic of civic engagement, and President Glotzbach invited everyone to participate in those conversations as well. This work is crucial and central to our educational mission as a liberal arts college, and he hoped everyone will be able to participate.
President Glotzbach noted that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War in this country. He cited the final paragraph of Lincoln’s first inaugural address, given on March 4, 1861:
I am loath to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the course of the union when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.
When this speech was given, it was a time of peril and tragedy for this country. President Glotzbach does not believe the College is at a moment of peril and tragedy but, rather, is at a very good moment and well-prepared to go forward and do the work we need to do this year. This final phrase, however, “the better angels of our nature,” is one that President Glotzbach would like us all to keep in mind as we interact with one another throughout this year. He described a program called “Everyday Leadership” sponsored by Student Affairs as part of this year’s pre-orientation that over 400 students attended. This program trained students on ways to intervene in situations in which they believe something wrong is occurring. And, specifically, students were asked to consider not just the problematic behavior but also the needs of the person responsible for it – to respond from their “better selves” in attempting to resolve the situation in a way that respects the humanity of everyone involved. This is just one example of appealing to the better angels of all our natures and is something we would be well advised to do.
President Glotzbach concluded by noting he is very pleased to be at Skidmore for another year and hopes everyone feels the same way because Skidmore is a very special college. We have a wonderful new class of students, we are poised to do something great with them this year, and let us all be touched by the better angels of our nature.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’REPORT
Susan Kress, Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed everyone back to a new academic year. She noted that while summer might be a time away from the institution for some, many faculty members spend their summers focusing on their scholarship, pedagogy, curriculum, and administrative work; she hoped everyone would report their activities for announcement on our web pages.
VP Kress offered her thanks and appreciation to Muriel Poston and Jeff Segrave, who made so many important contributions on so many initiatives and projects; we will honor them as we continue their work, even as we take some of that work in new directions. Thereafter, she introduced Beau Breslin, as the Interim Dean of the Faculty, and Paul Calhoun, as Interim Dean of Special Programs, and provided a short biography of each of them. A warm round of applause was given to both Dean Breslin and Dean Calhoun.
VP Kress reported briefly on the agenda of the September 1st Academic Staff Retreat. At the midpoint of the Strategic Plan and at the President’s directive, VP Kress reminded everyone that Academic Affairs developed a 5-year plan. Academic Staff received a presentation on the accomplishments that had occurred during the past year.
This year, Academic Affairs will focus on three priorities: inclusive campus climate, science, and Transition and Transformation. With respect to the latter, VP Kress noted that we have to have some deep and further conversations with the faculty. While the three priorities involve three separate projects, which will have separate actions associated with them, they are all related. VP Kress noted that we must create an environment that fosters civility, respect, and reflection across commonalities and difference; our climate must create the conditions that make educational excellence possible. As part of that excellence, we are fully committed to the core values of a liberal arts education and one of the keys to that is science. In science, our faculty are doing a great job, but they do not have the facilities that they deserve to engage in productive collaborations. We will make progress on science this year. VP Kress noted that the world has changed, our students have changed, and the way we think about education has changed, and that a first-rate liberal arts education cannot take place in rooms with hermetically sealed doors. That is what this project of Transition and Transformation is all about – it is about keeping those doors open for ourselves and our students as we help prepare them to become thoughtful, responsible, curious citizens.
VP Kress noted she will continue to offer routine bulletins from her office about the activities in Academic Affairs. In addition, the VPAA and DOF office will hold an open house on Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00 p.m. for anyone that wishes to stop by without an appointment to meet with VP Kress, Dean Breslin and/or Associate Dean Patricia Rubio.
Every year at this time we talk about change; a community knows that it is dynamic and alive when it experiences change. While change means loss, change also means moving forward. While she was in the Tang this morning, VP Kress saw an absolutely outstanding exhibit that was curated by Rachel Seligman, Associate Curator, called MELT. The text accompanying the exhibit begins with a poignant and relevant quotation attributed to Heraclitus: “Everything flows and nothing abides. Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” This text speaks to us as educators, friends, colleagues, and family members; VP Kress urged everyone to see the exhibit.
VP Kress concluded by thanking her senior staff and everyone for all their good work. While this will be her last first faculty meeting, she starts this year again with undiminished enthusiasm, commitment, and energy for what this place is capable of. It is an amazing place and it is a thrill to start over once again. We have this great privilege in academic life of starting over each year with the lessons of last year in the front of our brains and thinking this time, maybe, we can get a little bit closer to getting it right. And, even if we don’t get it right, we will have the pleasure of trying and especially of trying together.
Dean of the Faculty. Beau Breslin, Interim Dean of the Faculty, welcomed everyone back for a new academic year. He noted his excitement to be working in the Dean of the Faculty’s office for the next 10 months. He said that for him the faculty inspires him, and he is very happy to be able to support the work of the faculty. He announced that his work as former Director of the First-Year Experience and Assistant Dean of the Faculty would be distributed as follows: he introduced Marla Melito as the new Interim Director of the First-Year Experience and provided a summary of this year’s orientation. Thereafter, he reported that Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart will be assuming the faculty development portion of the duties of the Director of the First-Year Experience and will be working with Associate Professor Kim Frederick who will be organizing a writing group for untenured faculty; and Professor Sarah Goodwin will assume the assessment work related to the Teagle Grant.
Rather than appoint an Acting Director for Intercultural Studies, Dean Breslin announced that this work will be reallocated while Associate Professor Winston Grady-Willis is on leave. During this time, Dean Paty Rubio will be responsible for the personnel portion, Associate Professor Michael Ennis-McMillan will co-chair the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding, and Associate Professor Tim Harper will be responsible for the curricular area.
Dean Breslin also announced that Paul Arciero, Mary Crone Odekon, and Susan Walzer were promoted to full professor, Rubén Graciani was promoted to Associate Professor, and Pola Baytelman was promoted to Distinguished Artist-in-Residence effective June 1, 2011. A congratulatory round of applause was given.
Dean Breslin also announced the new Department Chairs and Program Directors this academic year: Susan Lehr, Education Studies; Lary Opitz, Theater; David Peterson, Art; Pat Hilleren, Biology; Pat Fehling, Health & Exercise Sciences; Joel Brown, Music; Gautam Dasgupta, Asian Studies; Marla Melito, First Year Experience; Catherine Golden, Honors Forum; Michael Ennis-McMillan, Anthropology; Kristie Ford, Intergroup Relations; Hassan Lopez, Neuroscience; Ela Lepkowska-White, International Affairs; and Crystal Moore, Social Work. A round of applause was given.
Thereafter, the department chairs introduced their new faculty for this academic year (see attached for complete list). A welcoming round of applause was given for the new faculty.
Dean of Special Programs. Paul Calhoun, Interim Dean of Special Programs, expressed his delight for the opportunity to lead the Office of the Dean of Special Programs. While Special Programs has work to do to define its mission, there is no doubt that the office will continue to collaborate with and develop relationships with the faculty because we want to get the benefit of the faculty’s ideas. Most fundamentally, Dean Calhoun sees Special Programs as a resource to help Skidmore further its primary mission, which is to educate undergraduates. Thereafter, he introduced Auden Thomas, the new Director of Academic Programs and Residencies, and said that she will be in touch with the faculty to discuss summer programs for 2012.
Then Dean Calhoun provided a highlight of the programs offered by the Special Programs this summer. The total number of participants in summer programs this year was 9 percent better than last year and the highest number ever. The highlights of the 20 programs and 77 events offered this summer included Dave Brubeck performing with his son, Chris, along with Joel Brown and Joel’s father, Frank, and Peter Madcap Ruth; Caryl Phillips, reading from his journal account of climbing Kilimanjaro with Russell Banks; SITI Theater’s demonstration of the Suzuki method; the Jazz Institute; Lar Lubovitch’s Fandango; the performance of Robert Battles Rush Hour by the New York School of Modern Dance; the MALS summer seminar, African Art and the Environment; a new healthy eating and cooking class for Northwoods campers; 15 different sports programs; and 3 new conferences.
Dean Calhoun concluded by thanking the members of the staff of Special Programs for all their work this summer: Sharon Arpey, Maria McColl, Michelle Paquette, Debbie Amico, Wendy LeBlanc, Stanley McGaughey, and Shelley Curran. He also thanked Mike West, Rochelle Calhoun, Ruth Copans, Justin Sipher, the faculty of the athletic department and sports programs and the remaining members of Special Programs. In looking forward to the fall, there are three residencies. He introduced Daniela Talmon-Heller, the Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence, who will be teaching in the History Department and holding a public lecture on September 20. The Carr Residency will take place from October 12-13, 2011; this year’s guest will be Zana Briski, who produced Born into Brothels, and her lecture will be held on October 12. The week-long residency of the Academy, a joint program of Carnegie Hall, the Julliard School and the Weill Music Institute will take place in October, and their marquis performance will be October 21. Lastly, he referenced the mature learners program, Survey of Liberal Studies for Mature Learners, which really targets Special Programs’ mission of supporting the community in which we live; there will be two sessions this fall and 254 students have already enrolled. He encouraged everyone to consider offering a lecture to this group.
There was no old business.
Faculty Executive Committee
Associate Professor Barbara Black, on behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), introduced the following Motion (see attached):
MOTION: The Faculty Executive Committee moves that the 2011-2012 Faculty Handbook be adopted. The following link takes you to the 2011-2012 Faculty Handbook (showing tracked changes) as well as handbooks from previous years: Skidmore College: Faculty Handbooks.
Associate Professor Black briefly reviewed the changes to the Faculty Handbook for this academic year. There was no discussion, and the Motion will lie over until the next meeting.
Thereafter, Professor Black provided a brief background on the current governance issue. She reported that the Transition and Transformation initiative is now with the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP). She further reported that a meeting was held to discuss the Arthur Vining Davis grant wherein it was decided that a portion of the October faculty meeting will be devoted to a discussion of this grant. She concluded by thanking last year’s FEC for being so vigilant and President Glotzbach for working with FEC on these issues.
Committee on Educational Policies and Planning
On behalf of CEPP, Associate Professor Josh Ness discussed the items on CEPP’s agenda for the 2011-2012 academic year, which includes a revision of the cultured-centered inquiry requirement, the formation of a faculty-centered Transitions and Transformation working group; the formation of a working group to address scientific literacy; revisions to the dean’s card evaluations, and civic engagement. He also introduced the other CEPP members for this year: Rubén Graciani, Chris Kopec, Mimi Hellman, Michael Arnush, Janet Casey, student representatives Thomas Rivera and Logan Brenner, Susan Kress, and Rochelle Calhoun.
- Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs, thanked everyone for all their help in getting the new academic year off to a good start and announced that the faculty will soon receive an email from her and Dennis Conway, co-chair of the Emergency Management Team, concerning the proper emergency response procedures as they relate to the classroom. She encouraged everyone to review these procedures with their classes and to register with the SUN network.
- Associate Professors Michael Arnush and Erica Bastress-Dukehart invited all faculty to join their Faculty Interest Group (FIG) to discuss the controversial book entitled Academically Adrift. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 21 in the Weller Room. The FIG will spend time critiquing the book, the methodology, and the data. While the FIG will be a faculty-only group, it is hoped the community can come together for a substantive conversation addressing the issues in the book in the future.
- Ian Berry, Susan Rabinowitz Malloy ’45 Curator, announced the fall exhibits at the Tang, which include a survey of the work of photographer Kiki Smith, an exhibit created by Whiting Tennis, an exhibit focusing on creative responses to war from the collection entitled Behind Those Planes are the Stars, and many other talks and films. The Tang’s fall celebration of all the exhibitions and artists will be held on October 15, 2011. Thereafter, he announced Rachel Seligman as the first Associate Curator at the Tang and reminded everyone that Alison Barnes is the faculty liaison at the Tang and that Associate Professor Mimi Hellman serves as the co-director of the Mellon Faculty Seminar.
- Associate Professor Mimi Hellman announced that this year’s Mellon Faculty Seminar starts in January with a group trip to tour the museums in Atlanta, Georgia. She encouraged anyone interested in participating to contact Alison Barnes or Rachel Seligman.
- Riley Neugebauer, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, discussed the new recycling program.
- 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 5:38 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson