I write to share the news that after 17 years with Skidmore College, Michael Casey, the Collyer Vice President for Advancement, will step down this spring to become the vice president for advancement at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Michael came to Skidmore from Wesleyan University’s advancement office, following advancement positions at Franklin & Marshall and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Throughout our 14 years together, Michael has been a wonderful colleague and collaborator. As a new president, I benefited considerably from his experience and expertise in fundraising. He has also been a tremendous help to me in crafting speeches and other texts, and he has always taken an institution-wide perspective, pushing for excellence in all areas. He will be greatly missed.
Michael joined the Skidmore community in July of 2000 and built professional teams in the areas he supervised. During his tenure, the College raised more than a half-billion dollars for a range of initiatives including the construction of the Arthur Zankel Music Center. He also secured support for financial aid and academic programs including 15 endowed chairs and the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative, as well as facilities and athletics and student affairs initiatives.
From 2004 to 2010, Michael oversaw the "Creative Thought. Bold Promise" Campaign, which raised a record $216.5 million. In recent years he has overseen the quiet phase and public launch plan for the current effort, "Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore," which has already raised $132.5 million. He participated in the creation of several important volunteer support organizations such as the Friends of Skidmore Athletics and the President’s Advisory Council, helped shape the new Communications and Marketing Office in 2015, and played a lead role in the 2001 crafting and development of the College’s highly successful branding platform "Creative Thought Matters."
Michael has been deeply involved in the greater Saratoga Springs community, including service on the boards of the Waldorf School, the Convention and Tourism Bureau, SaratogaArtsFest, and the YMCA.
Michael shared with me the following thoughts to be conveyed to his colleagues: "It has been a great honor to serve Skidmore these past 17 years, and a real pleasure to work with so many wonderful volunteers, donors, staff, and trustees and to see their tremendous commitment to the College and, most important, to our students."
I am pleased to announce that Kimberly Verstandig, our campaign director and associate vice president for advancement, will assume the role of interim vice president on March 1, until we complete a national search for Michael’s successor. Kim, who has been at Skidmore since 2012, formerly served as executive director of alumni and constituent relations at Bucknell University, senior development officer at Albany Medical Center, and director of advancement at the Albany Academies. She holds a B.S. in business administration and an M.A. in education from Bucknell. I am grateful to her for taking on this important assignment.
Michael will continue as a transitional advisor to Kim and the division until June 1. He begins his new assignment at Trinity later that month.
Please join me in thanking Michael Casey for all he has accomplished on behalf of Skidmore and wishing him well in his new position.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
Many of us have been following the recent decisions and executive orders emerging from the Trump Administration that sharply restrict both immigration and border entry for persons from a number of Muslim-majority countries and suspend the refugee program for 120 days. Several other related legal developments subsequently have occurred, and this remains a dynamic and evolving situation.
Currently, a significant contingent of Skidmore students, faculty, and staff come from scores of countries around the world, some of them from regions directly affected by these executive orders. But these political developments touch all of us either directly or indirectly.
As we await further decisions and developments, let me reaffirm our pertinent institutional values:
- We reaffirm Skidmore’s membership in the international community of scholars, educators, and students within colleges and universities across our nation and throughout the world. It is our priority to foster in our students, as fundamental aspects of their liberal education, both intercultural awareness and global understanding. We actively recruit students from across the world, and we actively encourage all of our students to study abroad. It is clear that educated persons today must understand the myriad ways the countries and peoples of the world are increasingly interconnected and share a basic humanity, interrelated interests, and ultimately a common fate.
- As our current Strategic Plan makes clear, Skidmore is also deeply committed to fostering inclusive excellence — affirming that our diversity makes us a stronger, more vibrant, and more creative community, provided we enable everyone to participate fully in our shared enterprise. Our international students are a key part of this vitality.
- We have long been committed to policies of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin. We do not discriminate in staff and faculty employment or student Admissions or any other area based on a student’s immigration status. We comply with relevant legal requirements, but we do not otherwise seek or disseminate information about our students’ immigration status, and we strive to protect the privacy of all our students.
- In times of difficulty, the Skidmore community comes together to support one another and to reach out, especially, to members who are in distress. This is a moment when we need to show solidarity with all our international students, faculty members, and staff members – especially those from countries affected by these recent developments. Personal expressions of care and concern can go a long way to reassure people that they are valued and, above all, that they are not alone.
Going forward, we will continue to closely monitor developments in national policy and their legal implications for the College. I am currently in Washington, D.C. attending the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). I will speak to staff members at NAICU and directly with some of our federal legislators and their staffs to learn more about what we can do, and I will share this information with you.
For any community member who would like to discuss this further, please consider reaching out to the following offices: Dean of the Faculty, Dean of Students, Human Resources, Religious and Spiritual Life, Office Campus Study & Exchanges, Student Academic Services, and the Counseling Center.
This is an important time for all of us to listen to one another with compassion, seek understanding, and speak with respect for the multiplicity of beliefs and perspectives that characterizes a liberal arts college worthy of that title.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to share "First Steps: Strategic Action Agenda 2016-2018," which is posted on our strategic planning website. This Strategic Action Agenda (SAA) differs from previous iterations in two distinct ways. First, it covers a two-year window, allowing us to make significant strides on our Strategic Plan: Creating Pathways to Excellence. Second, it is organized on the basis of the four goals identified in the Plan, rather than in relation to administrative divisions of the College. We look forward to collaborating with you as we complete these first steps.
Marie and I wish you great success during this final examination period, and Happy Holidays!
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Joel Aure as Skidmore's new Title IX Coordinator, effective January 9, 2017. Joel currently serves as the Chief Diversity and Affirmative Action Officer and Title IX Coordinator at Purchase College, State University of New York (SUNY).
Joel has been with SUNY Purchase since 2005, holding positions of increasing responsibility in a variety of areas, including academic advising, student success, teaching and mentoring, orientation, first-year experience, affirmative action, strategic planning, and governance. In his most recent role, as Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator, Joel researched and implemented various components of Title IX practice and policies, including best practices in investigations, compliance, bystander intervention, LGBTQ awareness, and the numerous aspects of sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and response.
A native of Monroeville, PA, Joel holds a B.A. and M.F.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and Sarah Lawrence College, respectively.
At Skidmore, Joel will work as a partner with all campus community members to bolster the College's prevention and educational efforts around prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. He will be responsible for fulfilling our commitment to a fair and equitable process to address serious matters of sexual and gender-based misconduct.
As previously announced, this is a newly-created position that will report directly to me. Joel will oversee the College's Title IX efforts, as well as compliance with related laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act. He will chair the College's Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and provide oversight of compliance with all Title IX policies. He will manage reporting, keep the community informed of policy changes and updates, supervise annual training, administer investigations, and provide direction to our Deputy Title IX coordinators in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Human Resources. Finally, he will work closely with Campus Safety and our off-campus partners, including law enforcement and counseling resources.
I want to express my deep gratitude for the terrific work of the screening group that included Max Fleischman '19, Chris Kopec, Alena Llorens-Myers, Mariel Martin, Tim Munro, DyAnna Washington '18, and Joshua C. Woodfork (chair). Thanks to the many students, staff, and faculty members who interacted with our candidates and provided valuable feedback. This process was ably assisted by Tom Molloy as our search consultant.
I also want to thank Sarah Delaney Vero who has served as our Interim Title IX Coordinator. I am grateful for her excellent work and willingness to step in and assist us during this transition.
Please join me in welcoming our new colleague Joel when we return to campus after our extended winter break.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to you from Asia where Marie and I are meeting with alumni, current parents, supporters, and prospective students. While I wish I were on campus with you, my presence here at this particular time has given me an unexpected perspective on this week's events and a deep appreciation for how small and interconnected our world has become.
In the weeks and months ahead, it will be my top focus to help us work together across any existing divides to continue our efforts to make Skidmore more inclusive. Never has that been more important than in the challenging times that I believe will follow this divisive election. For now, I offer three points for us to consider together.
First, let us openly acknowledge and discuss the significant and troubling issues in the American politic that this election has revealed. These divides were reflected in the heated and corrosive tone of the campaigns and, ultimately, in voting patterns that show the deep demographic and ideological split in our country. We are not immune from those divides here, as various events from the past few years have shown. Clearly, we still have a long way to go if we are to achieve the "more perfect union" imagined by Lincoln and explored in the current exhibit at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, which has served as our town square over the past several weeks.
Second, we need to be attentive to the damage done and the hurt felt by individuals all across the political spectrum in this country and on our own campus. If there is one initial and fundamental lesson that we can take away from this week, it is that many – far too many – of our fellow citizens do not feel that they are fully enfranchised participants in this grand experiment called the United States. Both in perception and in fact many of us do not and cannot now enjoy the privileges that should be a fundamental prerequisite for all. It will take candid dialogues and true collaborations across differences to address this abiding crisis.
Third, let us celebrate the fact that millions of individuals were able to participate in this election, one of the most fundamental activities of a true democracy. We are now on the familiar path of witnessing, once again, a peaceful transition of power from one administration to another. We must not take these privileges for granted. And we must fulfill our own personal obligations to protect them for all who live among us. Just as importantly, we must recommit ourselves to Skidmore's critical responsibility to prepare students to be thoughtful, civil, engaged, and responsible community members.
In the weeks ahead, there will be many more lessons to take away from this week's events and many opportunities to learn and grow from meaningful conversations. I encourage all of us to take the long view of our history as we work toward a better future together. We must be unwavering in our commitment to justice, to understanding, and to each other. Skidmore can, and must, be a place where we live by our stated principles every day. We must be a place where all members of our community can achieve their full potential. That is the goal of every great college and it must be ours.
To the Skidmore Community:
Now that the first presidential debate has taken place, we have entered into the most public segment of a lengthy campaign season. In fact, the election is six weeks from today. We have witnessed strong opinions during this political season and anticipate that this will continue.
I write to remind you that we do have a College policy on Political Activity, which I encourage you to review at this weblink.
Our policy was developed by students, staff, and faculty members. In reviewing it, you will see that its underlying essence is a call for us to be wise, measured, and respectful of opinions that differ from our own. Please refer to this Policy when thinking about any political activity that you or your organization may plan to undertake.
As a liberal arts college, we greatly prize freedom of expression, and we also value, and expect, that we honor and learn from diverse schools of thought.
You have likely seen advertised the impressive array of activities and events that are being held right here on campus this fall. I encourage you to visit the exhibit, "A More Perfect Union" at the Frances M. Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, which is providing a "town square" hub of activities and events. For example, over 330 community members attended a "Debate Watch Party" last night at the Tang. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media publisher Jose Antonio Vargas will be at the Tang tomorrow night to talk about immigration policy and the presidential election. And on Monday, October 10, Alexander Heffner, host of PBS’s show The Open Mind, will moderate a dialogue with Republican Congressman Chris Gibson and Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko entitled "What Ever Happened to Compromise?"
A full listing of related events coming up on campus may be found here. If you have an upcoming event and would like to add it to the list, please let us know.
As we head toward Tuesday, November 8, I encourage you to participate in the election process and to find positive ways to make your opinion known that lead to greater understanding and exchange in a respectful manner. Thank you.
To the Skidmore Community:
I write to share news that I reported at the September faculty meeting: Beau Breslin, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will leave his administrative post as of January 1, 2018. Beau has graciously agreed to stay on through 2017 in order to complete some key projects related to the Center for Integrated Sciences, participate in a large number of tenure decisions next fall, and continue work on the General Education curriculum renewal. He will take a well-deserved sabbatical in 2018–19 and then rejoin the Political Science Department in September 2019.
I accepted Beau’s decision with reluctance. He has been – and will continue to be – a strong voice for academic life throughout the College, an advocate for our faculty, and a community leader. With six years of dedicated service in this role and four in previous administrative duties, he has been away from his teaching and research for ten years now, and I know that he misses being in the classroom with our students.
I have discussed this transition with the chairs of key faculty committees, including the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) and the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (CAPT), as well as the vice chair of the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC). We will begin a national search next fall, and I will work through the appropriate governance channels on the appointment of an Interim Dean/Vice President for the spring of 2018 and on other matters relating to this search.
I appreciate that Beau will continue his stellar administrative service for the next three semesters, and I am equally pleased that he will continue to be an invaluable advisor to me and members of the President’s Cabinet during this time. We are very grateful for all that he has done in support of Skidmore in this important role.
In due course, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Beau’s many accomplishments, but I believe it is appropriate to inform the community of his decision now, so that we can, with his involvement, make plans for this important transition.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas as we move forward. Thank you for your attention.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to share with you the positive news we have recently received from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE): our reaccreditation has been formally confirmed, and we have been commended publicly on the quality of our self-study process. Many of you were present when the visiting team read their report to us on March 9. It contained a long list of compliments. It also contained some recommendations. We are pleased to say that those recommendations, while a permanent part of their report, are not public, and do not result in a compulsory follow-up before our next self-study process.
This result places us in a small group of colleges who have been commended for our work. Of the 46 colleges and universities that underwent reaccreditation last year, 33 must follow up to document improvements; the Commission commended only 13 others–Skidmore among them–in the self-study process, while reaffirming accreditation without any required monitoring or progress report.
We can be proud of our accreditation process and of all that we are doing in support of excellence at Skidmore. The requirements for accreditation have changed in recent years, and will continue to change; in particular, the MSCHE now requires much more transparency and accountability. We will need to continue to strengthen the ways in which we can demonstrate our commitment to our students’ learning and to decision-making that is based on the best-available evidence. But we can say now with pride that we excel at what we do, and that we have been recognized publicly for our efforts.
For your information, here is a website link to the MSCHE action.
Once again, I especially want to thank Skidmore’s Middle States Steering Committee, the members of the Working Groups that drafted the self-study, and all of you who participated in the reaccreditation process and made it so successful. Most importantly, I thank you for all that you continue to do, day in and day out, that makes Skidmore the extraordinary college that it is.
Today, I know I join others in our Skidmore community who are still reeling from the incomprehensible tragedy in Orlando, Florida over the weekend. We have lowered our flags in honor of the lives lost and in solidarity with the families and loved ones who are mourning. We have also placed a rainbow LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/and or questioning) flag prominently outside Case Center in Porter Plaza to acknowledge the loss, especially within our gay community.
For those on campus who would like to gather for a time of remembrance, we will hold a brief memorial at 4:15 p.m. today at Porter Plaza. For anyone who needs support, Counseling Services may be reached at 518-580-5555. As a reminder, all employees may utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may be reached at 518-793-9768.
Let me share two reflections:
From Skidmore's Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Parker Diggory: "In addition to the staggering loss of life, I keep coming back to the knowledge that a kind of sanctuary was violated in this attack and that the LGBTQ community, particularly those of color, are experiencing loss and fear on a devastating scale. In the swirl of narratives and grief that will continue to emerge from this event, I hope each of us takes the time we need to reach out to our people in whatever way is right for us, and to acknowledge the grief and anger as well as the need for community."
From former Skidmore American Studies Fellow Richard Kim writing in The Nation: "Gay bars are therapy for people who can't afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can't go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression."
Sadly, it was almost exactly a year ago that I reached out to you about the horrible murders at the A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the meantime, we have seen other such tragedies around the world, and I know that we all mourn for those who have experienced great loss. It brings home to all of us our charge here at Skidmore: to educate future leaders to work for a time when we see a diminishing number of such actions that are driven by hatred and fear to be replaced by actions that are driven by love and hope.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to announce Cerri Annette Banks as our new Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, effective August 1, 2016. Cerri currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
I am truly thrilled to welcome Cerri Banks to our community. She brings an extraordinary level of experience in the increasingly complex world of student affairs. Cerri is uniquely qualified to lead a division that oversees every facet of our students' lives outside of the classroom. Her background and insights will be invaluable in the President’s Cabinet and across our campus.
Here at Skidmore, Cerri will oversee 134 employees and five offices within Student Affairs, including athletics, campus life, career development, student diversity programs, and student academic services.
She replaces Interim Dean and Vice President Gail Cummings-Danson, who held the role for the past academic year after the departure of former Dean and Vice President W. Rochelle Calhoun for a vice presidency at Princeton University. Gail will return to her previous role as Skidmore's athletics director in the fall. I want to thank Gail for her extraordinary service stepping up to the interim role while also maintaining her duties as A.D. During this past year, she has helped us deal with a number of daunting challenges, and she has done so with intelligence, wisdom, and grace.
Cerri has held the Mount Holyoke position since July 2011. She oversaw a staff of 70 and a $5.4 million annual budget; in addition, she served on the President's Cabinet, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, the Academic Priorities Committee, and numerous other high-level boards.
Previously, Cerri was Dean of William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., after serving there as a faculty member, interim dean, and director of the President's Commission on Inclusive Excellence.
She received B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Syracuse University between 1997 and 2006, where her areas of study included cultural foundations of education. A scholar of multiculturalism and diversity in education, she has written two books and produced scores of articles, book chapters, and presentations on culturally relevant teaching and learning and other subjects.
Active in key higher-education organizations over the course of her career, Banks has won a wide array of honors, awards, and scholarships. A graduate of Monroe Community College before transferring to Syracuse, she was inducted into Monroe’s Hall of Fame.
I want to express my deep gratitude to a very strong search committee that included Mary Lou Bates, Gail Cummings-Danson, Corey Freeman-Gallant, David Howson, Terri Mariani, Tashawn Reagon '16, Natalie Taylor (vice chair), Charles Tetelman '16, and Joshua Woodfork (chair). And many thanks to all the students, faculty, and staff members who interacted with our finalists and offered insightful feedback. I also want to compliment our search partners Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates who ably assisted us and provided us with a remarkable pool of talented candidates.
Cerri is excited to join our community, meet more of our students, and collaborate with partners across the campus. Please join me in welcoming our new colleague.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
After discussions with the President’s Cabinet, within College divisions, and with the Staff Advisory Group, I am pleased to announce extended winter holiday breaks over the coming three years for non-union employees. Union employees, whose holidays are guided by their bargaining unit agreements, are encouraged to use vacation days, other paid leave, or unpaid leave (in that order) for those days that are not contractually scheduled holidays.
The College will be closed during these winter breaks, but as you are well aware the presence of certain employees will be vital to their department’s functioning at these times. Please note that with temperatures in certain buildings reduced significantly, some employees who work during the closures may be re-assigned temporarily to other buildings.
For the next three years, Skidmore’s winter closures (including the weekend days that fall adjacent to or during the closed periods) will each consist of 14 consecutive days, as follows:
- 2016: College closes beginning Monday, December 26, 2016, and reopens on Monday, January 9, 2017
- 2017: College closes beginning Thursday, December 21, 2017, and reopens on Thursday, January 4, 2018
- 2018: College closes beginning Monday, December 24, 2018, and reopens on Monday, January 7, 2019
If you have any questions, I encourage you to speak with your supervisor or to contact any member of the Human Resources team.
Former Skidmore President Passes Away
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write today to share the very sad news that David H. Porter, fifth president of Skidmore College, has died. It is especially painful, in this season of renewal, for the Skidmore community to once more confront the loss of a beloved community member and friend. Our thoughts go immediately to David’s wife, Helen, their children, and their grandchildren, as they cope with this loss.
Born in New York City in 1935, David received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1958 and a doctorate in Classics from Princeton University in 1962. He then traveled to Carleton College where, for the next quarter of a century, he enjoyed a remarkably productive career as a teacher, scholar, and administrator.
David assumed the Skidmore presidency in June 1987. During his twelve-year tenure as president, he greatly enhanced the intellectual life of the campus, helped conceive and plan the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, successfully led the Journey Campaign, which raised nearly $86.5 million (then the largest campaign total in the College’s history), and worked to diversify the College’s student body, faculty, and staff.
David’s intellectual interests and achievements were broad and eclectic. He was a regular contributor of opinion pieces to The New York Times and The Boston Globe. He wrote letters to the editor of The New Yorker. And in addition to penning books on Horace and Greek tragedy as part of his core scholarly activity, he also produced monographs on Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press, and the Austrian pianist and composer, Edward Steuermann. Finally, he and his wife Helen co-authored a book on Lucy Skidmore Scribner.
Music was another great passion for David. He studied piano with Steuermann and harpsichord with the celebrated Gustav Leonhardt, and he regularly performed both on- and off-campus. His presentation "The Well-Tampered Clavier: Play, Musical and Otherwise," was a staple for incoming students both during his presidency and long after. He presented this performance at a national conference of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and last performed it for first-year Skidmore students this past September in the Arthur Zankel Music Center.
Following his term as president, David returned to the classroom, teaching at his alma mater, Princeton University, as well as Williams College, Indiana University, and Skidmore, where he served as the first Tisch Family Distinguished Professor. He retired from the classroom in 2013, after more than half a century of teaching, but remained an active scholar. His edition of Lucy Gayheart for the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition was published this past August.
David’s continuing contributions to our community were underscored just this past week when he was an honored guest at Skidmore’s annual David H. Porter Classical World Lecture, featuring acclaimed author Barry Strauss, who paid tribute to David’s classics scholarship at the start of his lecture. As was his wont, David spent much of the dinner following that lecture speaking with students, forming a connection with a new generation of scholars and displaying, as always, his undiminished talent for and love of puns and wordplay.
Details about a service will be announced when finalized. For those who may need support, Counseling Services may be reached at 518-580-5555. As a reminder, all employees may utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may be reached at 518-793-9768. Wilson Chapel is available for those seeking space for reflection.
I ask you to join Marie and me in keeping David’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Legal Update and Campus Support
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to share with you the news that the driver in the devastating crash that took the life of student Michael Hedges and injured students Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith last October was sentenced in Saratoga County Court this afternoon. Thomas H. Gorman, who pled guilty in February to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and first-degree vehicular assault, both felonies, received the maximum sentence allowable under the law from Judge James Murphy. He specifically sentenced Mr. Gorman to five to 15 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter and two to six years for vehicular assault, to be served concurrently. He will not be eligible for early release.
While no sentence can bring back Michael, I do hope that this court action will bring some measure of closure to the families and friends of the victims. Interim Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Gail Cummings-Danson and I attended the sentencing hearing, along with a group of students and family members. All of us were tremendously affected by the emotional victim-impact statements given by Toby and Oban, as well as Will Blauvelt and Kitty Horblit, who were with them on that terrible night. We were extremely impressed by the strength and courage these students exhibited in describing their pain.
A touching letter was also read on behalf of Michael Hedges’s mother, Stephanie Mae, who was in attendance along with her son Tom and the parents of Toby and Oban.
The families told us once again how much the College’s outpouring of support has meant to them over these past very difficult months. We are now involved in planning for a campus tree-planting ceremony in memory of Michael Hedges later this spring. We will provide details soon, and all members of the Skidmore community will be invited to attend.
This is a painful time for Skidmore with the death of another student, Will Golden, over the past weekend. Our hearts go out to all of these families and the entire community as we all struggle to comprehend this unbearable loss.
As I mentioned in an email this morning, there will be a gathering Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in Ladd Concert Hall in the Arthur Zankel Music Center, to honor and remember Will.
Recognizing that this news will affect members of our community in different ways, let me remind you that we are making available a variety of opportunities for support this week.
In addition to its regular services, the Counseling Center will be offering same-day 30-minute consultations with a therapist all week for individuals directly affected by these events. Please call the Center at 518-580-5555 the day you would like to come in.
The Health Promotion Office will be bringing therapy dogs, both large and small, to the Intercultural Center (ICC) in Case Center on Tuesday, March 22, from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will be available and Wilson Chapel will be open every day this week. There will also be multiple opportunities for reflection, mindfulness, and communion—including yoga and meditation in the Chapel on Tuesday, March 22, from 11 a.m. to noon; Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m.; and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. Mindfulness moments take place on Tuesday and Thursday in the Chapel at 12:15 p.m. for twenty minutes. And the Chapel offers Zen meditation on Tuesday night from 6:25 to 8 p.m. Please see the chapel schedule here.
Because our ties to others are particularly important in times of loss and stress, our Peer Health Educators will also be hosting an event focusing on healthy relationships, on Thursday, March 24, in the Kisiel Atrium of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
While our community is being tested by these extraordinarily sad events, I know that we will once again reach out to help each other through these difficult times.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
Please join us Tuesday evening March 22 at 7 p.m. as we come together to celebrate the life of first-year student Willem "Will" Golden who passed away on Saturday.
In an effort to support each other and send our thoughts and prayers to Will's family, we will gather as a community in Ladd Hall in the Arthur Zankel Music Center and end the evening with a candlelight vigil outdoors in the Thomas Amphitheater. If necessary, overflow accommodations will be available.
The Murray-Aikins Dining Hall will be open Tuesday before and after the event at no cost to our students.
I know this is a very difficult time for everyone on our campus, and I hope this gathering provides some comfort to our students, families, and our community. Please show your Skidmore pride by wearing our school colors—green and yellow—to our gathering.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Death of a Student
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write today to share the terribly sad news that one of our students, Willem “Will” Golden, of Cohasset, Massachusetts, died yesterday as the result of a fall in Newark, Delaware. Will was a first-year student and a member of the Skidmore hockey team who resided in Wait Hall.
Our hearts go out to Will’s family members, his friends on campus, and those back home. We have been in contact with his family and shared our deep sympathy and offers of assistance. They will notify us when funeral plans are made. In the meantime, we are in the process of planning a campus gathering on Tuesday and will provide more details as soon as they are available.
Will had been a member of the Skidmore community for less than a year but had already made many connections with students, faculty, staff, and teammates who will grieve his loss very deeply.
Let me remind you of the additional counseling services on campus this week that were planned given tomorrow’s sentencing of the driver in the tragic crash this past October. To lose two students in one year is unthinkable, and I know that this most recent death will affect every one of us in our close community.
In addition to their regular services, the Counseling Center will be offering same-day 30-minute consultations with a therapist all week for individuals directly affected by these events. Please call the Center at 518-580-5555 the day you would like to come in.
The Health Promotion Office will be bringing therapy dogs, both large and small, to the Intercultural Center (ICC) in Case Center on Tuesday, March 22, from 12:30-2 p.m.
Wilson Chapel will be open all week for those seeking solace there and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life staff will be available each day. The Chapel will also hold multiple opportunities for reflection, mindfulness, and communion throughout the week – including yoga and meditation. The Chapel schedule is available here.
Because our ties to others are particularly important in times of loss and stress, our Peer Health Educators will also be hosting an event focusing on healthy relationships on Thursday, March 24, in the in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall Atrium from 5:30-7 p.m.
I ask that we all do everything we can to support one another during this very challenging time.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Commencement 2016: Speakers
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am pleased to announce that at the 105th Skidmore College Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 21, 2016, I will confer honorary degrees upon two exceptional individuals:
|Emanuel Ax, internationally acclaimed classical pianist. A multiple Grammy winner, Ax is famous for his artistic virtuosity, collaborative spirit, and embrace of old and new music. In 2010, he headlined the formal opening of Skidmore's Arthur Zankel Music Center. |
Bernice Johnson Reagon, renowned activist, musician, educator, and cultural scholar. Reagon was a Freedom Singer for the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and as composer and performer she led her Sweet Honey in the Rock ensemble for 30 years. She is an American University professor emerita and Smithsonian Institution curator emerita.
Both of our distinguished guests will address the graduating class. Board of Trustees Chair Linda Toohey, Class of 2016 President Miles Calzini, and I will also offer our congratulations.
Following a Skidmore tradition, a faculty member selected by the graduates will speak as well. I am pleased to announce that the senior class has selected Katherine (Kate) Graney, associate professor of government and director of gender studies, as this year's Faculty Commencement Speaker. With research expertise in ethnicities and federalism in Russia and the former Soviet states, since 1999 Professor Graney has taught courses ranging from Russian and Eastern European politics to gender in international relations and human rights.
For more information on Commencement 2016, please see our website. We look forward to celebrating this special milestone with the Class of 2016, their families, and guests in May.
Spring 2016 Semester Updates
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community:
I hope the semester is off to a great start for all of you. As we make our way through a lively period in Skidmore’s history, I write to update you on a wide variety of news and activities affecting everyone in our community.
Another great year for applications
We received a record number of applications for Skidmore’s Class of 2020. We currently have 9,115 on file, in comparison to 8,453 last year—an increase of 8% over last year and 6% over the previous record set two years ago. The majority of the additional applications are from international students, 74% of whom are seeking financial aid. In this year’s pool, 27% of applications are from international students, in comparison with 22% last year and 20% the year before. We also received a record number of Early Decision (ED) applications: 547 this year, a 30% increase over last year’s 411. The ED Round II Committee meets next week, so final numbers are not yet available, but we are hoping to enroll 42% of the class through ED this year, compared to 38% last year.
Campaign at $101 million
We are making excellent progress on our comprehensive fundraising effort, Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore. We just passed $101 million in gifts and pledges, and we are already seeing the Campaign’s impact in a number of areas—additional support for our financial aid program, new internships and collaborative research opportunities, the Valentine Boathouse (where we have just started the permitting process), and the Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS).
Strategic Plan on its way to the board
The Plan has now received the endorsement of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees, the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the Staff Advisory Group, the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate, and our faculty. Many thanks to Professor Tim Harper for presenting it at Friday’s Faculty Meeting, where a vote endorsed it with two amendments. The Plan has also been sent to the Alumni Board and will be taken up by the full Board of Trustees later this month. Thank you all for your good work in getting us to this point. Once the Board approves the contents of the document, it will be copy-edited and sent back out to the campus community. It is very exciting to have this blueprint in place to guide our next decade.
Middle States process well in hand
We were successful in the Middle States document review stage of the reaccreditation process, and now we are eagerly awaiting the campus visit (March 6-9) from an external review team led by Dr. Janet M. Riggs, President of Gettysburg College. The Self-Study can be accessed here, using your Skidmore login credentials.
General Education work progressing
The Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP) continues to work on the proposed new curriculum, making refinements based on feedback received. January’s Academic Summit provided another opportunity for members of the community to comment on the proposal, and CEPP will now make adjustments based on those latest comments.
Federal complaint filed
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has notified us that a complaint has been filed related to the handling of a sexual assault case at Skidmore in 2014. We are responding to this action and the Department’s request for documents and will comply with all requirements. Skidmore is now one of the 276 OCR investigations at colleges and universities around the country. We will keep you apprised of further developments.
Research continues at Starbuck Center
As we informed you in an earlier campus memo, several members of President’s Cabinet and I met with colleagues working in Starbuck Center who expressed concerns about three current cases of breast cancer. Since that time, the new Starbuck Steering Committee (SSC) has met on several occasions and hosted a campus meeting to share information from the last round of testing in 2012. The SSC has been in contact with the New York State Department of Health and other organizations, and work continues to develop future assessments. You can find the latest news at their blog, using your Skidmore login credentials.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives and actions move forward
The Fall Semester was marked by student activism around campus climate and inclusion. I appreciated our students’ willingness to work collaboratively with the administration and their continuing conversations with the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU). We are moving on actions to address some of the issues they have raised. We are in a time of transition with regard to a number of leadership roles relating to diversity and inclusion at the College, and I expect us to make progress in filling those positions and continuing to move forward as we go through this semester. In January, Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Professor of Sociology and Department Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Swarthmore College and noted expert on diversity and higher education, consulted with President’s Cabinet, presented at Academic Summit, and met with other groups, including the Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct.
Academic Affairs continues to underscore the importance of engaging in important work related to diversity—especially its commitment to recruiting and retaining faculty and staff from underrepresented groups. The Dean of the Faculty, together with the Center for Leadership, Teaching, and Learning, is offering a series of workshops and trainings related to diversity and inclusion. And, of course, other areas of Academic Affairs—in particular, the Tang—continue to organize their work around this broad topic.
Cabinet searches underway
Foundations have now been laid to fill important positions on the President’s Cabinet. For the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs position, the search firm of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates has been hired to advise the process. We will make an announcement soon about the makeup of the search committee. (I am very grateful to Gail Cummings-Danson for taking on this cabinet role while retaining her position as Director of Athletics.) After getting the search for the Dean of Students underway, we will launch the search for the Vice President for Marketing and Communications. Both positions are key to achieving the goals set forth in our new Strategic Plan, and we will involve the campus in helping us to make these critical decisions.
New shows at the Tang
On Saturday the Tang officially launched three exciting new shows. Alma Thomas brings awareness of a great American artist to a new generation in a partnership with the Studio Museum of Harlem. Borrowed Light, which highlights the gift of more than 500 photographs to the Tang last year, forms the core of three courses this semester being taught by Ian Berry, Mimi Hellman, and Robert ParkeHarrison. Critter & Guitari is an interactive sound exhibition created by 2002 Skidmore graduates Owen Osborn and Chris Kucinski that reveals the skills and entrepreneurship they developed as students here. The Tang is happy to set up group tours for faculty and staff.
The driver in the terrible Halloween night crash that killed our student Michael Hedges and injured two others recently pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter and will be sentenced in March. And the former campus safety officer involved in a sexual misconduct case off campus was sentenced to five years’ probation.
Last fall the Space Planning Working Group, chaired by Crystal Moore and Dan Rodecker, made recommendations that were approved by cabinet and IPPC for the first of many projects that will serve our students, faculty, and staff over the next two to three years while the Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS) is being planned. Projects now underway include the move later this year of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs from Filene Hall to the recently acquired Van Patten House at the far north end of North Broadway. Van Patten will undergo substantial renovation this spring and summer to prepare for the move. Filling the vacated space in Filene will be the Economics and Classics Departments, joining MDOCS there. Also, on May 16, CIS-related geothermal work will begin and will put the Palamountain parking lot out of commission for much of the summer; we appreciate your planning and patience.
Hoverboards banned on campus
An IPPC policy went into effect on January 25 prohibiting the self-balancing scooters known as hoverboards, battery-operated scooters, and hands-free Segways from our campus. This step was taken because of fire hazards and other concerns raised by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Anyone who has brought one of these devices to campus should contact Campus Safety, who will work with our facilities team to find safe storage until the devices can be removed from campus. If such items are found on campus, they will be confiscated for safe storage until the end of the semester.
Skidmore Cares another great success
Marie and I thank you for your enthusiastic involvement in Skidmore Cares. In December the program collected 2,218 food items, 1,017 school supplies, nearly $3,000 from our vendors, and over $8,000 from the campus, primarily from Beatlemore Skidmania—for a grand total of $11,091 in contributions, which were distributed to ten Saratoga County helping agencies. We should all be proud of this generous community effort!
I wish you all a wonderful spring semester.
Next Strategic Plan
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am writing to share the final draft of the next Strategic Plan, v. 15.2: Creating Pathways to Excellence: the Plan for Skidmore College, 2015-2025, which is posted on the College's planning website here. Please note that I have also posted two versions with track changes so you are able to view the edits to the document since December 2, 2015 when I shared the last version, 14.5.
On January 27, 2016, the Pilot Staff Advisory Group unanimously endorsed the Plan at its meeting. This Friday, (2/5/16), the Plan will be presented to the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Faculty. We are seeking endorsement from both groups. Over its next two meetings, the Student Government Association's Senate is also considering the Plan. It has also been shared with the Alumni Board. The Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to send the Plan to the full Board of Trustees, which consider the Plan for approval at its Board Retreat at the end of this month.
From white papers to surveys to green dot exercises to roundtable discussions to office hours, our strategic planning process has certainly been robust. I want to take this opportunity to express gratitude for all of your participation and input over the last two academic years. I look forward to working with you to bring our shared vision into an exciting reality. Thank you for your attention.
Legal Update on October's Tragedy
Dear members of the Skidmore community:
I write to let you know that the driver involved in the terrible crash that killed our student Michael Hedges and injured Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith pleaded guilty this afternoon to vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault. The press release from the District Attorneyss Office announcing the plea is available here. Our thanks go out to the DA and all of the members of the police and legal community for their time and efforts in this difficult case.
I realize that for many this news will bring to the surface deep emotions connected with the tragedy that befell our campus last fall. I hope that the disposition of this legal case can provide some sense of closure.
Please keep in mind that the Counseling Center and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life are available to students if and when you need them.
We hold a special place in our hearts today, and always, for Michael's family and friends and celebrate that Oban, Toby, and others in the vicinity of the crash are safely back among us.
News regarding Starbuck Center
Dear members of the Skidmore community:
Last week, several members of President’s Cabinet and I met with colleagues working in Starbuck Center who expressed concerns that environmental factors in the building could be related to three current cases of breast cancer. The news that any of our colleagues are dealing with serious health issues is disturbing, and we in senior leadership are deeply concerned.
We are following up on many levels. The Cabinet has convened a Starbuck Steering Committee (SSC) to oversee the investigation of the current health concerns that have emerged in the building. The SSC is chaired by Crystal Moore (Associate Dean of the Faculty). Its members include Bill Tomlinson (Director of Sponsored Research), Dan Rodecker (Director of Facilities Services), and Patty Bosen (Director of Health Services). It also includes one representative from each of the four divisions in Starbuck: Lisa Hobbs (Academic Affairs), Lisa Tuttle (Financial Aid), Cindy Hurley (Financial Services), and Elizabeth Kopraski (Student Academic Services). In addition, the SSC is consulting with Loretta Greenholtz (Academic Safety Officer) and other colleagues on our campus who have expertise and knowledge that can help us with this work.
The SSC has been charged with engaging in the process to locate and hire a firm or firms to conduct a new round of environmental testing and an epidemiological study, and to consult with the New York State Department of Health and other relevant parties. President's Cabinet has made it clear that all decisions about this process are under the SSC’s purview. SSC will meet every few days over the next several weeks to ensure that progress is being made on the testing, and on securing the needed information to allow us to make important health decisions. Employees will be given frequent updates. The mandate of the SSC is immediate action, transparency, and timely communication with the goal of keeping our employees safe.
So far, the SSC has contacted the New York State Department of Health and will partner with it to assist us in implementing further environmental and epidemiological assessments to, once again, determine whether there are any identifiable factors present in Starbuck Center that could possibly be related to the new health issues that have arisen.
Most of us will recall that in 2012 similar concerns were raised about Starbuck Center. At that time, we undertook a comprehensive environmental study of the building. That study determined that there were no identifiable factors that could be causally related to illnesses suffered by our employees. Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, we moved everyone out of the building for several months and undertook major replacements and refurbishments inside the structure. These changes included new flooring and carpeting, new ceilings, and new ductwork – indeed, the entire HVAC system was replaced. We also engaged an outside expert from The Ohio State University School of Medicine who conducted a medical review of current and former employees suffering from breast cancer to determine if there was any evidence of an environmental link. That study also concluded that there was no evidence of any such connection.
At this time, we want not only to review the building again for any possible carcinogens or health risks that were studied in 2012 but also to learn of any new research findings, knowledge, or protocols for testing that have arisen in the past four years. While we don’t yet know how long these follow-up studies will take, we do know that the previous investigation was conducted over a period of approximately three months.
Because of the absence of health risks found in previous comprehensive studies and the fact that the building was nevertheless completely refurbished, there is no justification for relocating offices from Starbuck Center in the short term. In the event that you feel that you simply cannot remain in the building, we ask that you inform your supervisors, who will do their best to collaborate with you to determine if an alternative work plan is feasible. At the same time, all offices in Starbuck Center performing essential services for students, and those services must be maintained.
To keep the larger community informed, particularly our employees who work in Starbuck, the SSC will launch a blog with frequent updates regarding the testing and study process. The link to the blog was sent to the campus community on Wednesday, January 20, with directions to access it.
In addition, a community meeting will be held during the week of January 25 in which Loretta Greenholtz (Academic Safety Officer) will go over the findings from the last round of tests, present the SSC current plan, and answer any questions the community may have. The date and time will be announced by the end of the week.
To those employees currently serving in Starbuck: While we complete new assessments of Starbuck, please know that you can speak with your supervisor, any member of the SSC, Crystal Moore, Barbara Beck (Associate Vice President for Finance & Administration and Director of Human Resources), Mike West (Vice President for Finance and Administration), or me about any and all concerns that you may have.
Above all, everyone should be fully assured that we are assiduously following up on this issue and are fully committed to providing a safe place to work for every Skidmore employee.