Skidmore Aims to Serve Both Students and the Community
August 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 community.
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.)