Office of the President

Essays and Speeches


Social Justice and Liberal Education
Skidmore College Commencement Address (May 18, 2013)

Good morning. On this splendid day, let me add my own heartfelt greetings to parents, family members, Trustees, members of the faculty, and honored guests in attendance at this celebratory event: Skidmore College’s 102nd Commencement. (more)

Transition and Transformation
Skidmore College Commencement Address (May 19, 2012)

Good morning.  On this absolutely perfect day, let me add my own heartfelt greetings to parents, Trustees, family members, honored guests, and everyone in attendance at this celebratory event: Skidmore College’s 101st Commencement.  Above all, to the members of the Class of 2012, both undergraduates and those receiving Master’s degrees today, congratulations!  (more)

Community and the Courage to Act
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 21, 2011)

Good morning. Let me add my own greetings and welcome to parents, honored guests, and everyone in attendance at this historic event: the College‟s 100th Commencement Above all, to the members of the Skidmore College Class of 2011, congratulations. You are the largest graduating class... (more)

Forever Begin
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 22, 2010)

Parents, Trustees, members of the faculty and staff, honored guests, and members of the Class of 2010, let me too extend my welcome to everyone in attendance today at Skidmore College’s  99th Commencement Exercises...(more)

Conflict and Compromise
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 16, 2009)

Members of the Skidmore College Class of 2009, parents, and honored guests, let me too extend my welcome to everyone in attendance at our 98th Commencement Exercises – most especially to you graduates.   As you may know, you number more than 640, representing the largest graduating class. (more)

Strategic Opportunities – Strategic Choices
Opening Address to the Skidmore Faculty  (September 5, 2008)

It’s always great to begin a new academic year – even though any of us might look back with a bit of nostalgia on the quiet campus we experienced just a few days before the return of our full contingent of students.  It wasn’t quiet for the folks in Special Programs, of course.  We had a wonderful season of summer programs – and, more recently, we’ve had a very smooth opening of school, thanks to... (more)

Creative Thought, Black Swans, and Your Future Self
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 17, 2008)

It is fitting that we gather on this day of celebration, a time when we mark the achievements of our graduates and also a moment when we pause to reflect on this significant transition in the life of an individual and a family.  On behalf of Skidmore College, I extend my welcome to everyone in attendance at our College’s 97th Commencement Exercises... (more)

Science Matters
(Scope Quarterly, Winter 2008)

When we think of Skidmore’s many academic strengths, the sciences have not always come immediately to mind. But science was at the core of our signature nursing program, and exercise science—highly regarded both inside the college and beyond—traces its origins to the physical-education major. Our strategic plan highlights the importance of science and calls for significant investment in this area ... (more)

Intercultural Literacy
(November 1, 2007)

It is beyond dispute that today’s college graduates will have to deal effectively with difference within the human community in both their public and private lives, especially within an increasingly diverse and global workplace.  Indeed, in the words of Skidmore's Strategic Plan... (more)

Angels in the Architecture
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 19, 2007)

Members of the Skidmore Class of 2007 and honored guests.  It is fitting that we gather on this day of celebration, a time when we mark the achievements of our graduates and also a moment when we pause to reflect on this significant transition in the life of an individual and a family.  On behalf of Skidmore College, I welcome everyone in attendance to our College’s 96th Commencement Exercises. (more)

Measure Twice; Cut Once
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 20, 2006)

This maxim is a good example of a heuristic: a rule of thumb that increases the possibility of success but does not guarantee it. Having measured twice, it is still possible to saw badly. Still it is much easier to change a line on a board than to fix a cut in the wrong place. How much better, then, to make the small extra effort needed to measure that second time, to check your work, to get it right before you commit! (more)

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. (more)

A Simple Reflection on Virtue
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 21, 2005)

What you do from this point forward—both how you construct your personal lives and how you make your mark upon the world—will represent the ultimate determinations of the value of your Skidmore education. Indeed, the best way to honor the professors who have done so much to assist you in reaching this point is to surpass them—in knowledge, in achievement, and in virtue. (more)

Of Trapezes and Tea Cups
Skidmore College Commencement address (May 22, 2004)

To borrow a metaphor from author Gail Blanke, many of you soon-to-be-graduates now find yourselves "between trapezes"—or you are about to be. That is, you are preparing to release your hold on the College that has been your home for these past four years, a place that has provided at least a measure of structure to your life and, I trust, guidance in your journey from callow but eager first-year student to more worldly senior. (more)

Truth and Friendship: Reflections on a Paradox of Academic Community
(March 2004)

Despite their quirks and idiosyncrasies, academic communities are about ideas and ideals. They also are about people. The ideals are lofty, the people imperfect. We all are fallible human beings who frequently, to borrow from a Jewish prayer, find ourselves "poor in word and deed." Even so, academic communities are places where magical transformations occur on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis—transformations with surprising and far-reaching effects in the lives of students and faculty members too. (more)

Love's Labor's Found
Skidmore College Inaugural Address (October 18, 2003)

Let me begin by expressing sincere thanks to all of you who have gathered here today to help us celebrate not simply the inauguration of an officer of the College, but more importantly, the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of an idea – an idea that evolved into this extraordinary institution that today is Skidmore College. (more)

Liberal Education in Context

Liberal education is a journey, not a destination. This journey begins with a commitment to truth-seeking that is modeled by the faculty, who make it their responsibility to inspire a similar commitment in their students. In exploring the breadth of liberal learning, students gain familiarity with the different ways of interrogating the world, creating knowledge, and making meaning that are embodied in the various academic disciplines and art forms represented in the curriculum. (more)

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