Opening the Academic Year
September 5, 2017
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am delighted to see everyone returning to campus, and I am very pleased to welcome
our new faculty and staff arrivals and, of course, our new students – both those who
have transferred this fall and members of the terrific Class of 2021. This incoming
class stands at 665 students, selected from more than 10,000 applicants. Once again,
nearly half came to us through Early Decision, and our overall acceptance rate was
just 25%. The class makeup includes students from 35 states, 25% domestic students
of color, 13% international students, and 17% first-generation students; 42% of the
class is receiving Skidmore financial aid. We open the semester with 721 course offerings,
with many more independent studies, individual lessons and co-curricular experiences. The
new class has already begun meeting in 44 Scribner Seminars, two of them for the 25
students enrolled in the first-year program in London.
Since May's Commencement, we have hired over a dozen staff members, 11 tenure line
professors and 24 non-tenure track positions (lecturers, visiting assistant professors,
artists in residence, instructors, etc.). As you saw from my communication last week, Sean Campbell will be joining us mid-October as our new Collyer Vice President for
Advancement, replacing Michael Casey, who left in the spring to become vice president
at Trinity College. Let me express my thanks to Kim Verstandig, who has served as
interim Vice President. Sean will come to us from University of Chicago Medicine.
Searches for two other cabinet positions have made good progress over the summer.
We have identified our top candidates for the position of Vice President for Communications
and Marketing, and final interviews will occur shortly. As most of us know, Beau Breslin
will return to the faculty in January, following six and one-half years of excellent
service as Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs (DoF/VPAA).
The search for our new DoF/VPAA is moving along well. I expect us to complete that
search this fall. I am also pleased to announce that Crystal Moore will serve as interim
in this post, beginning in January 2018, if our new DoF/VPAA is not able to take up
those duties until the summer of 2018. Currently Associate Dean of the Faculty, Dean
Moore will work this fall with Dean Breslin to assure a smooth transition in this
important office. I am grateful for the participation of all the staff, faculty, and
students who have contributed to each of these searches.
In other news from Academic Affairs, a number of faculty members have been advancing
the development and shaping of the General Education curriculum that was endorsed
by the faculty last spring. The Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP)
will oversee this work in the coming academic year, as new courses are created, new
pedagogies introduced, and new major and minor requirements determined.
The Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS) remains our top institutional facilities
priority again this year. Along with our active fundraising for this project, we have
made good progress on the ground, including preparation for new access roads, utility
line and pipe relocations, and other site preparations. This work will continue through
the fall semester. Planning has also been under way, in consultation with a firm specializing
in this work, for siting customized trailers to house classrooms, labs, and offices
that will be displaced by the construction process. We expect to complete all permitting,
site preparation, and relocation by early 2018.
Our rich array of summer programs brought in a wide range of artists, scholars, young
athletes, and community members from Saratoga Springs and beyond. Among the events
made possible by the Stewart's Signature Series were collaborations with SITI's summer
workshop to present a play mounted by the Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan; a Selected
Shorts program featuring works by authors from the NYS Summer Writers' Institute;
the Jazz Institute's celebration of its 30th anniversary with Jon Batiste and his
band, Stay Human, to benefit the McCormack Jazz Institute Scholarship Fund; and the
Stephen Petronio Dance Company, which paired with artist Janine Antoni as our McCormack
Visiting Artist-Scholars. And, of course, more events presented by Special Programs,
from lectures to concerts to residencies, will continue through the academic year.
We will continue the Office of the President's "Community Dialogue Series," and will
soon be announcing our special guests for the fall semester. We know there will be
many other campus guests, speakers, and other exciting initiatives, including the
Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery's activities around the exhibit States of Incarceration and the Center for Leadership, Teaching, and Learning's hosting of the University
of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) Players, who will
provide two interactive performances related to conflict and climate in the classroom,
just to mention a few.
Work continues on development of a Black Studies program, the Social Justice space
planned for Case Center, and other initiatives around welcoming and belonging. We
continue to implement our Strategic Plan with its four goals:
I. Integrative Learning
III. Health and Wellness
As I wrote to you a few weeks ago, our educational mission and fundamental values
center on understanding, inclusion, and supporting responsible citizenship. I look
forward to a year during which we live these values and model them for one another.
I very much appreciate your participation in all our efforts to strengthen our campus
For now, I wish you the best as you settle into a promising new semester.