Setting Skidmore apart

Setting Skidmore apart

August 19, 2016

What sets Skidmore apart from other liberal arts colleges? Skidmore is challenged to answer that question every day. Here, Interim Vice President for Communications and Marketing Debra Townsend and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beau Breslin provide some compelling answers.

Why the liberal arts?

Although a liberal arts education is not a path that many students take, it is a model that many schools emulate. With rigorous classical academics as well as experiential opportunities such as studying abroad, on- and off-campus research, and internships, liberal arts institutions aim to teach students how to think critically. Large institutions are replicating this learning environment in the form of honors programs or colleges, but the liberal arts curriculum still fights to stay relevant in the public’s eye.

“Larger schools are trying to create a small liberal arts environment,” says Breslin. “Because ultimately, we do it better here.”

What about STEM?

The term “liberal arts” reflects the venerable heritage of diverse studies meant to free the mind from ignorance, but in modern ears it can connote an exclusion of a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum—which is not the case at all. In fact Skidmore was founded in the sciences and classified the experience as a liberal education. With nearly one-third of Skidmore students majoring in the physical and life sciences, “liberal arts” clearly embraces the full spectrum of academic disciplines.

“I would love to call us ‘a liberal arts and sciences institution,’” Townsend says. “I would be thrilled if that was the way we defined our schools.” Although Skidmore maintains its label, it continues to stand out as an elite college for sciences as well humanities and arts.

What makes Skidmore distinct?

Aside from its location in Saratoga Springs, an upbeat town no matter the season, Skidmore offers a mix of academic and pre-professional programs that set it apart from other liberal arts institutions. A century ago, founder Lucy Skidmore Scribner “wanted to train pre-professional people,” Breslin explains, and Skidmore continues to offer that line of study within its remarkably comprehensive curriculum.

The perceived value of college in the US is changing, which Breslin calls “degree inflation.” The view of a bachelor’s degree as fundamental and the rise in demand for higher degrees makes Skidmore an excellent midway step between high school and a graduate program. Whether Skidmore graduates pursue higher learning, move into a career, or take any other direction, they can be confident that the breadth of their Skidmore coursework developed their capacity for creative problem-solving, a skill they will use well beyond their time in the classroom.

Tags: , Debra K. Townsend, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Beau Breslin, This is Skidmore, podcast, liberal arts, liberal arts college
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