Skidmore Aims to Serve Students and the Community
Aug 18 2005
I have followed the discussions of Skidmore's proposal to construct a combined soccer-softball
field on Denton Road with interest. Unfortunately, the College's principal reason
for pursuing the project has sometimes gotten lost in the public rhetoric. Simply
put, we're doing it for our students.
Every parent whose son or daughter plays sports understands their value, as well as
the commitment and sacrifice they require. Because we compete in NCAA Division III,
Skidmore's students receive no athletic scholarships or other privileges. They take
the same challenging courses as other students, participate in campus activities,
volunteer in the community, and frequently hold part-time jobs. They play not for
glory or career aspirations, but because they love the game and value their relationships
with teammates. So ensuring that they can practice and play at a level commensurate
with our divisional peers and their own skills is very important both to the College
and to me personally. No parent would want less for his or her child.
Accordingly we have undertaken a major enhancement of our athletics program. We've
engaged a new athletics director and are reaching out to alumni and friends for increased
support, upgrading uniforms and gear, and enhancing facilities—a benefit not just
to our athletes and campus community but also to local school teams that use our facilities.
The Denton Road property that we purchased in 1987 specifically for athletics is critical
to our plans. Teams often begin practice in the afternoon when classes are over, which
in most seasons means that unlit practice fields are too dark. Currently some of our
strongest soccer opponents refuse to play on our existing turf, and our softball facility
does not meet NCAA requirements. The new facility will allow these teams both to practice—though
generally no later than 8 p.m.—and to compete on fields that meet NCAA standards for
dimensions and safety.
Certainly, we understand the concerns of our neighbors regarding lighting and other
issues. Believing creative thought matters, we have found that mutually beneficial
solutions are almost always attainable when people seek them with good will. Trusting
that the Greenfield Planning Board members share that outlook, we are eager to partner
with them in resolving the issues raised. We are confident that the Planning Board—representing
the interests of all Greenfield citizens—will render a fair judgment. Skidmore will
honor the Board's decision and will continue to work constructively with the Greenfield
The College views our place in the Saratoga region not only as central to our identity
but also as a privilege. Skidmore has always striven to be an outstanding neighbor
and citizen. Along with our positive economic impact (most of our annual budget directly
enters the local economy, not to mention the spending by our students and parents),
we contribute thousands of hours of volunteer community service by students, faculty,
and staff; memberships in civic and religious groups; pro bono consulting; sponsorship
of lectures and cultural activities (consider the Tang Museum, the Summer Jazz Institute,
the Boys Choir of Harlem residency, our leadership in Saratoga Reads!); and, not least,
free athletic events.
I truly believe, and will work to ensure, that the best is yet to come for our students
and for our valued relationship with our neighbors.
(This essay was published in the Saratogian on August 18, 2005.)