Faculty       Chairs/Directors    
Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 

FACULTY MEETING

September 7, 2012
Gannett Auditorium

MINUTES 

President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:33 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

President Glotzbach announced one minor change to the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held May 16, 2012 that were previously distributed.  He asked if there were any further corrections to, or comments regarding, the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held May 16, 2012.  Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

President Glotzbach welcomed everyone back to the start of a new academic year and thanked everyone for all their good work over the summer.  Referencing his welcome-back letter, he noted that so many people have done so much to get our new students settled and registered for classes, and that faculty members have been working on research and creative work and preparing for the classes they will teach this year.  The Office of the First Year Experience has been enormously busy, and he thanked Professor David Karp for his work with peer mentors and Professor Janet Casey for her leadership of the First Year Experience program. 

Thereafter, he discussed this year's successful orientation programming.  He noted that we re-thought the arc of orientation, from pre-orientation, to the events on Sunday, to opening convocation and the Tuesday evening event.  This year we brought in Ariel Luckey who gave a wonderful performance, and he thanked Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun, Mariel Martin, Sue Layden, Associate Professor Kristie Ford, Professor David Karp, and Marla Melito for all their work on this programming.  He and Marie will continue the customary receptions at Scribner House for the first year seminars. But this year we will use that opportunity to help the new students think about the community they are entering, to discuss the Honor Code, and to discuss the responsibilities of being a future Skidmore alumna or alumnus – about giving back to the College and understanding that Skidmore only exists because of the generosity, support, and commitment of past generations.  President Glotzbach noted that right now we are struggling with the alumni participation rate in annual giving, and that is unacceptable – and unsustainable for our future.  So we need today’s students to understand their future role in helping us continue to make Skidmore the place that it is. 

President Glotzbach discussed various construction projects on campus that have moved forward over the summer.  One of the large projects was the Library/IT project, a great collaboration among Ruth Copans, Justin Sipher, Susan Kress, and (more recently) Beau Breslin, which enabled the IT staff to move into the library and refurbish many places for our students to work and study.  Renovations in Saisselin also continued this summer and are still in progress.  Starbuck Center has been refurbished, and he thanked all those who were displaced for their patience and good spirit.  Finally, the second phase of the replacement of Scribner Village, now known as the Hillside Apartments, has been completed, with the final phase of the construction continuing throughout this year. 

President Glotzbach addressed key changes in leadership this summer -- from the retirement of Susan Kress, to the departures of Tracy Barlok in Advancement and Justin Sipher in IT, and the impending departure of John Weber.  He thanked Bill Duffy for stepping up to the role of Interim Chief Technology Officer.  He acknowledged with gratitude the years of wonderful service John Weber has given to the Tang and noted that there will be an opportunity to thank John before his departure.  The Tang is a signature program of Skidmore, and John has been key in helping the Tang to achieve new levels of national recognition.

Thereafter, President Glotzbach highlighted this year's “Strategic Action Agenda,” the 8th year in our implementation of the Strategic Plan.  One important aspect of context in which this year's “Strategic Action Agenda” is written is the relentless critique of colleges and universities, with questions being raised about the “value” of the educational opportunities we offer versus our cost – especially in light of  the staggering figures of student debt nationwide.  This critique has been particularly pointed in regard to small – and expensive – liberal arts colleges, such as Skidmore.  He referenced recent articles in newspapers and magazines as well as stories on National Public Radio addressing the amount of debt some students have when they leave undergraduate schools.  As an example, he quoted from an op-ed piece in the Times Union written by Debra J. Saunders, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle: "The President has increased Federal Pell grants and other student aid in the name of 'making college more affordable'; he doesn't seem to have noticed that when Federal aid grows, college tuition follows" ... "it is a tuition trap; more student aid leads to higher tuition, higher tuition leads to record college debt.... Ivy League law school grads like the Obamas can afford to shoulder the burden of big digit student loans but not the American people."

President Glotzbach also cited a recent article appearing in Newsweek written by Nile Ferguson, the Lawrence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard, commenting on the rising cost and attendant debt associated with American higher education, but concluding with a different concern: that our highly competitive admission system has become a mechanism for selecting a "cognitive elite." Professor Ferguson stated that, in 1997, just over 100 elite colleges, which does include Skidmore, admitted fewer than 1/5 of all freshman, which also accounted for 3/4 of the students with SAT or ACT scores in the top 5 percent.  The problem is, he continues, that this cognitive elite has become self-perpetuating: “they marry one another and use every other mean fair or foul to ensure that their kids follow in their academic footsteps.”  Paradoxically, he says, our universities now offer social mobility mostly to foreigners; for Americans they risk creating a new caste system. 

President Glotzbach continued by stating that these issues are out there, and it is not just a public debate; the whole question of the value-versus-cost of a school like Skidmore is a real issue.  Last year, we saw in our admissions pool a decline of about 5 percent in the number of students who were not applying for financial aid.   Moreover, we have experienced several years of declining numbers of applications.  This year, we are going to look closely at the dynamics of our admissions pools to try to reverse the trend of declining applications over the last few years.  We also need to think seriously about building a new Admissions and Financial Aid building; the Admissions office is literally the gateway to the college for all of our students.  Currently, this office is in the wrong place relative to our campus, the space is not as functional as it should be, and it doesn't reflect our message of what we are at Skidmore.  Admissions needs a space that shouts “Creative Thought Matters at Skidmore” and shows that we are doing something innovative, vibrant, and imaginative that you don't see at other places. 

President Glotzbach also addressed the increasing competition for our students.  He noted that we are in a situation where we are quite literally doing fine right now, but we cannot afford to be like one of the characters in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises who says that he went bankrupt two ways: “gradually then suddenly.” We are in a situation where our position in the marketplace is strong, but there are many reasons for people to look at other schools.  As we have gotten more expensive, and as we have seen a stronger, more diverse student body, we still have about 42 percent of our students on financial aid leaving 58 percent of our students receiving no institutional aid from us at all.  The latter prospective students will see their choices and opportunities to pick among colleges increase over time.  We need them to know the educational value we offer – what is at the core of what we do, what our faculty provides to our students on a day-to-day basis, the opportunities to learn.  We need to continue to help our students articulate better for themselves, to potential employers, to graduate schools, or to medical schools the value of their liberal education; we also need to help provide them more opportunities for internships and research.  He stated that liberal education has always been about preparation for professional life outside the academy, and we need to continue to think about it in those terms. 

In order to keep future increases in our comprehensive fee to a minimum, President Glotzbach also stated that we will need to increase our operational effectiveness and efficiency in working with the resources we have and to find ways to reduce our costs in some areas.  Referencing Warren Buffett, President Glotzbach said that everyone who works at Skidmore has "skin in this game," and thus, we all need to find ways to do even better and to provide more value for our students and alumni by being efficient with our resources.  Skidmore has moved in a very positive direction in recent years to be where it is today, and we have to continue to work at that. Every time someone reads a paper at a meeting, publishes a paper or a book, has a performance or gallery show, or speaks to a group outside of Skidmore, you are helping our reputation – and that is very important.  Noting that it is college ratings season, President Glotzbach said that Forbes just issued its list of the top 50 schools in the country, and we ranked number 84.  Newsweek also issued their college rankings and Skidmore ranked number 9 on the "happiest college" list; the methodology for this involved retention rates and student surveys. 

President Glotzbach cited an article published in the New York Times called "Learning is Freedom," by Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan, that provides an historical perspective on calls to narrow the range of what is taught in colleges and universities.  Roth points out that similar critiques of colleges and universities were expressed at the beginning of the 20th Century.  At the time, John Dewey argued for the value of a broad liberal education as a best preparation for life.  Even then, Dewey maintained that people could not say what the world was going to be like in 20 years.  (And of course, we don't know what the world is going to be like in 2 years, and our graduates are going to have to adapt to that changing situation.)  Dewey also was passionately interested in education for democracy and argued that liberal education is both itself an expression of freedom and represents the best possible education for a free people.  President Glotzbach believes we need to be even more intentional in talking among ourselves and thinking as we work in our classrooms about what it really means to educate our students to be participants in our democracy.  Today, we see an increasingly polarized society in which people are choosing to be exposed only to a narrow range of views that reinforce what they already believe, and are often becoming less likely even to interact with people who hold alternative views.  So we need to think about how we can help our students interact – in ways that are appropriate for a democracy – with people who might believe things very different from what they believe.  President Glotzbach would like to have a conversation about this topic at some point in the future.  

Ending on a personal note, as he and Marie enter their 10th year at Skidmore, President Glotzbach affirmed that his and Marie's commitment to the school remains as firm as the day they arrived, and they both still feel an inspiring sense of pride in their association with the College.  Skidmore is an institution that has always looked forward, and we need to continue to do so.  We need to continue to make no small plans, even as we commit to increasing our efficiency and effectiveness, in the context of difficult economic realities. President Glotzbach stated that it remains a privilege to serve as Skidmore’s President.  He thanked everyone for their confidence and support and wished everyone a terrific and successful year.

Following a round of applause, President Glotzbach opened the floor for questions and comments. A question was raised inquiring as to the percentage of Skidmore students that do graduate with debt and the range of that indebtedness.  President Glotzbach indicated that because of the way that we package financial aid, if a student is admitted who has need, we commit to meeting that student’s full need through a combination of grants, loans and work, and the way that we package it ensures that over time the student will not graduate with more debt than $20,000.  Dean Bates further stated that Skidmore admits students on a need-sensitive, as opposed to need-blind, approach that only a small number of highly-resourced schools can sustain.  She described a typical financial aid package for a need-based student.  President Glotzbach also noted that another factor in helping to keep our students' debt low is that they can graduate in four years, as opposed to other schools, such as certain state systems, where students simply cannot get the courses they need in order to graduate in four years.  Dean Bates will provide additional information about student debt at the October Faculty Meeting.

A request was made for the status of the Transition and Transformation and AVD initiatives. Professor Janet Casey provided an update on the AVD grant, noting that the civic fellows are now in place in departments and are beginning their work for the year; it is hopeful that divisional retreats will be held in January.  Thereafter, Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin provided an update on the T&T conversation, noting that CEPP was engaged in this conversation for a good portion of last year, and that CEPP is working on a report with the results of the survey that went out last year.

DEAN OF THE FACULTY AND VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT

Interim Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beau Breslin welcomed everyone back for the new academic year. He especially welcomed the new faculty colleagues stating that Skidmore is a wonderful and engaging community and that his office is available to help in any way with their transition.   He further thanked everyone on his staff in the Dean of the Faculty's office and his VPAA senior staff for all their hard work over the summer. 

Referencing his recent his announcement about the impending departure of John Weber, he echoed President Glotzbach's comments regarding John's extraordinary career at Skidmore and wished him the best of luck in his new position.

Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin echoed the comments made by President Glotzbach concerning this year's orientation and acknowledged the phenomenal work that is done by Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart and her new faculty learning community in helping the new faculty transition into Skidmore.

Referencing his welcome back letter, Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin stated that Academic Affairs will continue this year to focus on our three major priorities -- building a diverse and inclusive community, the science project and engaged liberal learning/transitions and transformations.    He provided an update on the science project, noting that we have now identified an architectural firm, Payette, and fully anticipates that Payette will make a presentation to the Board of Trustees in October.  He also noted that we will be working with an outside consultant, Pat Romney and Associates, to help us think about the ways in which we can build an inclusive and broad pool of candidates for our tenure track searches this year.    He also discussed the successful See Beyond program that is administered by Associate Dean of the Faculty for Academic Policy and Advising Corey Freeman-Gallant which provides opportunities for students to do work outside of the classroom over the summer that enables them to think about the connections between the curriculum, their academic lives, and their post-graduate experiences, hopes and aspirations. 

Concluding his report, he announced that Barbara Black, Tim Burns, Mao Chen, and Kim Frederick were promoted to Professor, Karen Arciero was promoted to Senior Teaching Associate, and Linda Hoffman was promoted to Associate Librarian, effective June 1, 2012.  A congratulatory round of applause was given.

OLD BUSINESS

There was no old business.

NEW BUSINESS

On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Professor Barbara Black introduced the following Motion (see attached):

            MOTION:  The Faculty Executive Committee moves that the 2012-2013 Faculty Handbook be adopted.  The following link takes you to the 2012-2013 Faculty Handbook (showing tracked changes) as well as handbooks from previous years: FacultyHandbooks

There was no discussion and the motion will lie over until the next meeting.

REPORTS

            Dean of Special Programs.  Paul Calhoun, Interim Dean of Special Programs, provided an update on this year's very successful summer term.  This year, Special Programs ran or hosted 74 programs with 3,750 participants; events in our auditoriums attracted 11,000 people and included several full houses at Zankel's Ladd Hall; and summer session total credits earned were up 24 percent from last summer, despite a 10 percent increase in the per credit tuition rate, arresting a 2-year decline.  Dean Calhoun thanked all those faculty who taught courses in summer session and indicated that his belief was that summer sessions can grow significantly at Skidmore.  In particular, he believes they offer a great opportunity for the faculty to experiment with new pedagogy. 

Dean Calhoun continued his report by noting that the second summer session in July includes pre-college students in the same classes as our undergraduates.  The program is extraordinarily diverse -- 11 percent are non-US citizens and 58 percent are students of color.  This year, a new workshop was created funded in part by a Teagle Foundation grant and a workshop was held intending to raise awareness of diversity issues and personal biases and how to mediate biases involving students. Program Director, Michelle Paquette, noticed a substantial decrease in interpersonal conflicts and behavioral issues, which she attributes to the effectiveness of this workshop.  Dean Calhoun thanked Professor Sheldon Solomon, Francois Bonneville, Rob Hallock and Kathy Hemmingway-Jones for their contributions to this very important workshop.

Dean Calhoun also reported that last spring, the MALS program, under the direction of Professor Michael Mudrovic and Sandy Welter, completed a comprehensive self-study of the MALS program. In June, we had three external reviewers on campus for several days.  The external reviewer's report is overdue, but we expect that the report will recommend significant changes.  

Additionally, Dean Calhoun stated that our academic programs this summer were challenged by several construction projects.  The fact that the summer programs ran so smoothly despite these construction projects is a tribute to excellent cooperation between facilities, staff, and faculty. Dean Calhoun thanked Mike West and all his colleagues in facilities for their assistance during the summer.

Dean Calhoun highlighted the events on campus over the summer:  Bill T. Jones Company, Ann Bogart SITI Company, the Jazz Institute, the Writer's Institute, the Young Writer's Institute, a new program entitled Entreprep Summer Institute, Don McClean, Art-a-Rama, ArtsElfresco, the flutes and harps, choreographer Sidney Skybetter, Terry Adkins, the New York State Summer School of the Arts, the CTY Program, Camp Northwoods, and the many sports camps. 

Dean Calhoun referenced Special Program's goal in this year's Strategic Action Agenda which sets a financial goal for summer programs.  He noted that last year Special Programs adopted a new and very broad mission statement, and his office intends to explore all opportunities for generating more resources that can contribute to the fundamental mission of Skidmore College. 

Concluding his report, Dean Calhoun encouraged more faculty to participate in delivering courses to the Mature Learner's Program and welcomed the 2012 Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence, Iris Agmon, from the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University.  Professor Agmon will teach a 5-week short course cross-listed in Gender Studies and History entitled "Women, Gender and Family in the Ottoman Empire" and will give her public lecture on September 19.  Lastly, Dean Calhoun noted that the ACJW residency will take place the week of October15-19; our first student-oriented fall popular music event sponsored by Kenny Zankel will be September 21; and Time Warner Cable stations YNN and NY1 will join together with Skidmore College to stage the only-scheduled debate this fall between New York senate candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long on October 19.

            Dean of Admissions.  Dean of Admissions Mary Lou Bates reported that the Class of 2016 has arrived on campus and provided the following statistics:

Dean Bates noted that the class has a wide range and diverse assortment of talents and experiences, with an extraordinary number of them having made significant commitments to volunteerism and community service in high school.  She noted that this year's class has lived and traveled all over the world and speak a host of languages other than English; they are entrepreneurial having created and ran all kinds of business from landscaping to violin repair, and have won all kinds of awards and recognitions.  Dean Bates concluded by thanking everyone for all their assistance throughout the year to help bring in this amazing class.

            Dean of Student Affairs.  Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs, introduced Rohan Palma, Academic and Administrative Co-Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program/Academic Opportunity Program, and Wazir Jefferson, Programs and Outreach Co-Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program/Academic Opportunity Program.  She thanked those faculty members who were part of the search committee: Associate Professors Viviana Rangil and Tim Harper.  Dean Calhoun concluded by noting there have been a number of staff changes under the Dean of Student Affairs and she will be sending an email announcing the changes in the near future.

            Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin introduced the new faculty members for this academic year (see attached for complete list). A welcoming round of applause was given for the new faculty.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

The meeting was adjourned at 5:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant

 

 

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