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.
Philip A. Glotzbach
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.
Philip A. Glotzbach
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.
Philip A. Glotzbach
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.
Philip A. Glotzbach
To the Skidmore community:
I want to thank every one of you who stepped up to be helpful after the terrible tragedy that resulted in the death of Michael Hedges and serious injuries to Toby Freeman, and Oban Galbraith. I am relieved to report to you that both Toby and Oban are healing very well and expected to make a full recovery.
To lose such a promising young man as Michael, and to see his friends so hurt, would have been incomprehensible just one short week ago. And yet, by coming together as a community, we have somehow managed to comprehend this cruel reality and to find the strength to do what needs to be done.
Over the course of the last several days, we have witnessed the true character of our community – its compassion, its strength, and its generosity. This was particularly apparent on Monday when more than 1,500 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends packed the gathering at the Arthur Zankel Music Center and the candlelight vigil that followed. Together, we grieved and honored Michael and supported Oban, and Toby and the friends and families of the three young men. It was also apparent at the beautiful funeral for Michael that I attended in Lenox yesterday in the company of a large Skidmore delegation. I know our presence was a source of comfort to the Hedges family.
This was true for the Campus Safety officers and first responders who rushed to the scene, as well as the other students who provided aid. It was true for all the health care workers who helped save the lives of Toby and Oban and our own health services staff who consulted with the families. And for all the Student Affairs employees who continue to reach out to students across the campus. And for the events staff and dining crews who planned such beautiful ceremonies and fed a large, unexpected number of students and visitors over the past few days.
It was apparent among the religious and counseling staffs who worked long hours opening their doors and hearts to provide comfort and even arranged for nearly 40 therapy dogs to visit campus and bring smiles to 500 students.
It was true of the faculty and Dean’s offices that reached out to and accommodated students who were affected by such a traumatic event in their young lives. It was true of the students who spoke so eloquently and provided such beautiful music at the gathering, including an original piano piece. And the communicators who worked around the clock to get the word out, respond to the media, and write and post such meaningful stories and photographs. And the hundreds of Skidmore and Saratoga community members who signed the huge cards and wrote notes for Toby and Oban and for Michael’s family.
It was true of the concerned parents and faithful Skidmore alumni who shared condolences and offered their heartfelt support. And of the many, many others who cared and gave so much to make this senseless tragedy more bearable.
Your good work goes on all across our campus. First-Year Experience (FYE) peer mentors and faculty members are continuing to meet with students. Many of you are working together to coordinate a complex calendar of multiple comfort and healing events. These activities are open to our entire community and will continue over the next few weeks.
As I said in my remarks at Zankel, “We come together to share our sorrow but also to do what genuine communities do: to care for and support one another in our difficult hour. A community built on care and respect does that. We care for one another. This caring means that, first of all, we simply are there for one another; we are present."
Thank you for your gracious presence and for the way you care for our community.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Dear members of the Skidmore community,
I am writing to share two planning documents: Institutional Planning, Community, and Celebration: Strategic Action Agenda 2015-2016 and Creating Pathways to Excellence: The Plan for Skidmore College, 2015-2025 v. 12.5. This year's Strategic Action Agenda (SAA) reflects the major strategic priorities of the administrative divisions of the College.
In mid-September I shared draft 9.7 of the next Strategic Plan and this current 12.5 draft reflects feedback received from many people, including members of the community, the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the State of the College Address/Institutional Planning Event on September 25, the Board of Trustees Strategic Planning Committee, and the full Board of Trustees.
There are three upcoming opportunities for members of our community to comment on this latest version: first, we are holding an open IPPC meeting, Friday, November 6, where we will discuss this draft from 11:00 a.m. to noon upstairs in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. Second, later that same day at 3:30 p.m., part of the Faculty Meeting will include an open discussion of the draft. I ask students, staff, and faculty members to participate in these important discussions. If you are unable to join us for either of these meetings, the third way to participate is to send your comments via email to the President's Office. Please note that we are seeking ratification of this plan during our February Board of Trustees Meeting.
At this time, I ask for your renewed commitment to promoting and participating in our shared agenda that calls upon each of us to exemplify excellence in all that we do each day.
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Dear members of the faculty, staff, and administration:
As many of you know, Marie and I were away from campus last week on College business. I know that a number of very important issues were raised related to shared governance and diversity at the Institutional Policy and Planning Community (IPPC) and the Faculty Meeting. I regret that we could not be present to listen and participate in those conversations.
I sent a statement to our community on September 24th that included details regarding my appointment of a CDO and my expectations for this position. Joshua C. Woodfork's initial work as Vice President of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity is to listen to a broad range of community members, to hear their concerns and ideas. From these critical listening moments, next steps will emerge.
For now, I respectfully ask that we look forward. Despite the progress we have made together, many issues for our increasingly diverse community still remain unresolved. We need to work together to find new ways to address them. To begin moving toward realizing our shared goals, I ask that we all – both collectively and individually – begin by renewing our commitment to a few simple ideas: first, talking together with respect. We can disagree sharply but yet do so within a personal and rhetorical frame that acknowledges one other's value.
Second, let us please actively affirm that we are operating from positions of good will and concern for the College. We can and should interrogate and test one another's ideas and positions; let us, however, also intentionally shape our discourse more as a discussion and less as a debate. There is an important role for debate in the academy, just as in our national political process, but debates by their nature are divisive. Dialog can bring a community together.
Third, we need to find better ways to connect more deeply to one another, to work together in exploring ways to make Skidmore a better place for everyone. This project will require our full powers of imagination and good will. Yes, some of this work needs to be done in public spaces, at Faculty Meetings or Community Meetings. But to strengthen our community and move beyond the fragile moment at which we find ourselves, we also need to develop new positive, professional relationships among people who may not be talking at present – relationships that allow us to talk colleague-to-colleague, in one another’s offices or over coffee in Case Center.
I have shared a few general ideas. But there is much more to be done, and the work is not easy. Indeed, as we are so painfully reminded on too regular a basis, society as a whole still struggles to overcome the range of challenges that fall under the heading of diversity. But I firmly believe that, as a liberal arts College that is dedicated to the educational ideals we all espouse, we have reasons for optimism. We can be wiser working together than any of us can be individually, provided that we do work together and not against one another in this important undertaking. Above all, we need to acknowledge that it is we who will determine the outcome.
Please note that we will be holding Community Meetings October 12 at 3:00 p.m. or October 13 at 11:00 a.m. both in the Payne Room of the Tang, as well as an Open Office Hour on October 13 from 1-2 p.m. in the President’s Office, Palamountain 4th Floor. Details will be forthcoming for both.
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Sexual misconduct article in Scope Magazine
Dear Skidmore families,
The fall issue of Scope magazine will be arriving soon in your mailbox. Its cover story provides an in-depth look at how Skidmore College is responding to the national issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct, which is challenging colleges and universities across the country. If you would like to see the story on-line in advance, you can click here. Although this issue is not confined to colleges, it is of great concern to all of us at Skidmore who are charged both with ensuring the safety and well-being of our students.
Skidmore has been actively addressing this issue for many years, and we continue to enhance our training, counseling, and education aimed at helping students act responsibly toward one another, while also strengthening our policies, procedures and adjudication of complaints in line with best practices and local and national laws and regulations. As you will read in the Scope article, the most recent changes to our policy reflect changes to the law in New York State. If you would like know more about our policies and procedures, you can go to our website where they are detailed.
While I am pleased with the work College staff have put into this effort, I am also acutely aware that the issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct remains an enormous challenge for Skidmore and, indeed, for all of higher education. We will continue to do all we can to address this issue that is so deeply and profoundly corrosive to our community and our society.
Thank you for continuing to care about Skidmore and our students.
Philip A. Glotzbach
To members of the Skidmore community:
As we continue the new semester, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the good work done by so many to get the year off to a terrific start. Marie and I spoke with a number of families during new-student orientation, and they were quite appreciative of the professional way the College has welcomed new students into our community, which was facilitated by the excellent work of a many offices, staff members, faculty members, and students from across the campus.
I also want to acknowledge several notable milestones that we are celebrating this year. Later this week (September 25-27), Salmagundi will mark its 50th (!) anniversary as a leading journal dedicated to literature and social and political commentary with its “Belief and Unbelief” conference. On October 16, the Tang will commemorate its 15th anniversary with a series of special presentations and exhibitions. On October 23-24, the Zankel Music Center will mark its 5th anniversary with two concerts, one by Joshua Redman and The Bad Plus, and one by San Fermin. On December 4, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Skidmore Cares Holiday Open House at Scribner House. I can’t imagine our community without any one of these four remarkable institutions, and I hope you will join in celebrating their significant anniversaries.
Focus on Planning and Community
Earlier this month, I noted that my focus this year would be on two key areas: planning and community. I write now to update you on our progress in each area and to highlight several important upcoming events.
Several key planning initiatives are currently underway. These include our review of the General Education Curriculum, our ten-year Middle States Reaccreditation, and, most significantly, the completion of a new Strategic Plan. With regard to the strategic planning process, the President’s Cabinet and I have worked over the summer to synthesize what we heard over the previous year from the campus, the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the Board of Trustees, and alumni about the future direction of the College. That effort has led to the production of a draft plan, The Creativity Imperative: The Plan for Skidmore College, 2015-2020, that we now will review with the campus community.
As a start to this stage of the process, I invite all members of the community to join in a public discussion of the draft Plan at the State of the College Address, which will be held upstairs in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall from 3:00-4:30 PM, tomorrow, Friday, September 25. Our goal is to ratify the plan at the February 2016 meeting of the Board of Trustees. At this time, I welcome the input of all members of the community.
This semester we also will be holding several public discussions of our draft Middle States Self-Study. We have scheduled three public forums – October 5, 27, and November 16 from 4:00-5:30 PM – in Gannet Auditorium. Our Self-Study draft needs to be completed by mid-December in time for a formal review by a Middle States Reaccreditation Visiting team from March 6-9, 2016. We will need everyone to be well aware of this process throughout the year. So please do what you can to participate in this conversation.
Lastly, the Committee on Educational Policy and Planning (CEPP) is continuing its work that began two years ago to revise our general education curriculum. This work will continue throughout this academic year.
As I noted in my “Welcome to the Academic Year” communication, though there are many positive aspects to the Skidmore community, we certainly have ongoing challenges that we must face to become the inclusive and affirming campus community that we want to be– one that fully supports all our efforts to achieve excellence in our work. Our own experience over the past several years with repeated incidents of bias as well as the continuing pattern of race-related violence across our nation has made it clear to me that we need to take additional steps to address the various issues that have impeded our growth as a community. To move this agenda forward, I am announcing two key initiatives.
First, I have appointed Dr. Joshua C. Woodfork to serve in the newly created position of Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity. This decision arises from the very thorough and thoughtful work of the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU), which, in December of last year, presented a report to the IPPC and President’s Cabinet that outlined a number of steps to move us toward becoming a more inclusive community.
After being asked by IPPC to prioritize its proposals for improving campus climate and increase inclusion, CIGU’s primary recommendation was that we create a Cabinet-level position of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to provide additional expertise and leadership within the College for these important efforts. The Cabinet reviewed CIGU’s report and recommended unanimously to me that we take this action; after some reflection, I decided to accept that recommendation in a way that I believe will be effective, without significantly increasing costs or disrupting existing institutional structures.
Dr. Woodfork’s appointment reflects both my determination to address the larger concerns referenced above as well as a belief in his particular qualifications for this position. His title also emphasizes the crucial link I see among institutional planning, diversity, and inclusion. As most of us know, Joshua held the position of Assistant Professor of American Studies at Skidmore from 2005 to 2010. He then left to become an Assistant Professor of American Studies and faculty liaison to the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program at American University, a position he held until 2012. At that point, he took the position of Director of the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS) at Trinity College (Hartford), where he also taught as an adjunct faculty member in the American Studies Department. In September 2013, he returned to Skidmore as Executive Director of the Office of the President and Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives.
In his time at Skidmore and most especially in his present position, Dr. Woodfork has impressed me with his knowledge, his judgment, and his ability to collaborate effectively with a wide spectrum of people. His charge will be to work across our campus community, beginning with the President’s Cabinet, to help us be smarter and more successful in becoming the truly inclusive and respectful community we want to be: to ensure that, institutionally, we are asking the right questions, identifying crucial connections, and developing the creative solutions needed to help us address issues we continue to face regarding diversity – in the broadest sense of that term – and inclusion. As noted above, this appointment does not change any existing reporting relationships in other areas. I will continue to emphasize that people holding leadership positions across the College retain responsibility for attending to issues of diversity and inclusion. I am also considering the possibility of creating an auxiliary position of Diversity Fellow (analogous to the highly successful model of Sustainability Fellows) to provide some additional support to these efforts but will hold on that appointment to allow Dr. Woodfork time to establish his new role. Going forward, Joshua will retain his previous responsibilities within the President’s Office. As his previous title suggested, he already played a significant role in the planning and execution of the College’s strategic priorities.
The second new initiative pertaining to community is the launch of a Pilot Staff Advisory Group. This is one outcome of the extensive staff surveys we conducted and reported on last year, and we will be discussing other developments following from this process as the year progresses. It is my hope that the Staff Advisory Group will provide a valuable forum to engage staff members in the work of strengthening our community and providing advice to the President’s Cabinet, Human Resources, and to me in a variety of contexts. I strongly support its formation. The Group will hold its first meeting Wednesday, September 30, from 3-4 PM in the Intercultural Center. I appreciate the engagement by interested staff members thus far and encourage others to participate as we launch this initiative.
There will be two other new faces on the President’s Cabinet this year, and I am grateful to have two experienced Interim Vice Presidents in place as we begin the academic year.
With Rochelle Calhoun’s departure over the summer to take the position of Vice President for Campus Life at Princeton University, we lost a thoughtful College leader who spoke forcefully on behalf of our students and for the cause of diversity and inclusion. To lead the division of Student Affairs this year, I have appointed Gail Cummings-Danson Interim Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs. Gail was named Athletic Director at Skidmore in 2005 and has served as an Associate Dean of Student Affairs for several years, so she is well known to the Skidmore community. Before coming to Skidmore, she spent 13 years at the University at Albany as Associate Athletic Director. During her tenure there, she also served in two interim roles – one as Interim Athletic Director and one as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Previously, she had served in Assistant Athletic Director roles at Temple University and Connecticut College. I very much appreciate Gail’s willingness to assume these new responsibilities, while staying connected to her role as Athletic Director. I know that it is not easy to perform both functions. We will soon launch a national search for a new Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs.
In May, I announced the creation of a new administrative division – Communications and Marketing – to be headed by a Vice President. This decision is closely linked to our current strategic planning process, and it follows a yearlong analysis of those functions, which previously had been located within Advancement. That process involved not only members of the Advancement team but also others across the College and the Board of Trustees. It was initiated by Collyer Vice President for Advancement Michael Casey who wanted to ensure that the College was positioned to meet the challenges of a rapidly-changing and increasingly competitive environment, an environment that demands even more effective communications and marketing across digital media platforms. Almost all of the necessary financial resources for this new department and additional services have come from reallocations within the existing budget.
I have appointed Debra Townsend as Interim Vice President for Communications and Marketing. Debra is an experienced professional who has advised on a variety of projects at Skidmore since 2001 and has assisted over 40 other colleges and universities in their communications functions – including Colgate, Washington State University, Bates, Union, Trinity, Bowdoin, Bennington and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has previously served in nine interim roles, including two at Skidmore, and will do so this year as we conduct a national search for the permanent head of this division. That search will get under way later this year.
As always, we will seek broad community involvement in these important searches, including input from the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (CAPT), the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), the Student Government Association (SGA), and the Staff Advisory Group.
Despite its length, this report leaves much unsaid. I might just mention the “Science Summit,” which also will occur on Saturday, October 24. We also will be holding several more Community Meetings and President’s Open Office Hours on differing days and times throughout the semester. Please save the date for the annual Skidmore Cares Holiday Open House at Scribner House on Friday, December 4th. And, of course, there is much, much more going on across the College and throughout the year.
Thank you for your attention. And please accept my best wishes for a productive and fulfilling fall semester.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Welcome – and for most of us, welcome back.
Tomorrow, we officially begin the College’s 104th year as more than 800 courses, a dozen varsity sports, a wide range of performing groups and student organizations come together to begin their work for the fall semester. The Class of 2019 has arrived on campus and in London. Selected from more than 8,500 applications (our second-highest total ever), the class numbers 694 students, including 35 in our London program. A record 13 percent are international students (99) hailing from 32 countries and another 7 percent hold dual passports. 23 percent self-identify as domestic students of color and 14 percent are the first in their family to go to college.
I expect this to be an extraordinary year for the College, and it is exciting to look ahead with you at all the strategically significant projects that we will tackle together in the coming months.
This fall will see a confluence of major efforts that will set important directions for our future. First, we will come together again in shaping our next Strategic Plan, with continued input from faculty and staff members, students, trustees, and alumni. As we reflect upon all of the accomplishments associated with our 2005-2015 Strategic Plan, Engaged Liberal Learning, and our annual action agendas, we are determined to develop an even more ambitious blueprint to guide us going forward. We will begin circulating a draft of that Plan for campus reaction in the near future.
Along with strategic planning, we will be completing our preparations for the upcoming Middle States accreditation, as well as the continuing review and revision of our General Education requirements. In addition, this year we will prepare for the public launch of a $220-240 million Comprehensive Campaign around the theme of “Creating Our Future.” This Campaign, which already has raised more than $90 million in its “quiet” phase, will focus on increased endowment support for financial aid and academic programs, the new Center for Integrated Sciences, and a new home for Admissions and Financial Aid. Other priorities will involve funding to increase the endowment for the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, to enhance experiential academic and career opportunities, to make athletic facility improvements, and to grow the Skidmore Fund, which provides budget support for so many of our academic and extra-curricular programs.
The thread that will knit all of these efforts together is a continuing focus on building community. As we all know, last year presented significant challenges as we addressed issues related to both sexual assault and diversity and inclusion. Since then we have engaged in very frank and useful campus discussions, reviewed policies in these important domains, and we will step up our efforts in the months ahead. The appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer, implementing revised policies on sexual and gender-based misconduct, and enhancing training are just a few of the steps we will take this fall.
We aspire to be a community that values a diversity of perspectives and that can engage productively in conversations about even the most challenging issues. I am committed to this proposition and call upon all of us to redouble our efforts to realize this vision through our work this coming year. Accordingly, I ask for your participation in making Skidmore an even better place to learn, live, and collaborate as teachers, scholars, and community members in 2015-16 and wish you an exceptional year.
Philip A. Glotzbach
In Memoriam: Julian Bond
August 17, 2015
To Members of the Skidmore College Class of 2015:
Skidmore College educates students to think creatively and lead lives that make a difference in our world. Class of 2015 Honorary Degree recipient Julian Bond did just that. I write to acknowledge the passing of this remarkable individual, exactly three months after he gave such an uplifting address at your Commencement. On that special day, he asked you to reflect upon how you will make use of the freedom you will experience as college graduates – challenging you to reflect on the values you will express throughout your life.
Julian Bond’s life was marked by creative thought dedicated to the struggle to make the United States a more just nation by fulfilling the promise of Civil Rights for African-Americans. The story of his persistence in striving to make the American Dream a reality not just for some, but for every U.S. citizen can inspire us all.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to share with you the story rotating on the College’s homepage and two additional local news stories:
- "Julian Bond Leaves Rich Legacy," Skidmore College, August 16, 2015
- "Skidmore Mourns Longtime Civil Rights Activist Bond," Schenectady Daily Gazette, August 16, 2015
- "Writer, Teacher, Poet Julian Bond was Champion of U.S. Civil Rights," Albany Times Union, August 16, 2015
The articles and the homepage story provide links to Professor Bond's Commencement remarks, which I've also included.
Julian Bond led a meaningful life dedicated to the eradication of inequality in all forms. We were all very fortunate that he could join us for a day we will long remember. We express our condolences to Julian’s wife, Pamela Horowitz, who also was our guest for this year’s Commencement, and to the entire Bond family.
Vice President W. Rochelle Calhoun
July 14, 2015
To the Skidmore Community:
I write to announce that W. Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, has been named Vice President for Campus Life at Princeton University, effective September 1, 2015.
At Princeton, Rochelle will collaborate with the Dean of the College and the Dean of the Graduate School to advocate for student needs while building community and culture. She will lead six units, including athletics, career services, religious life, the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, and university health services, with a staff of more than 300 and responsibility for a budget of nearly $49 million.
This transition marks a bittersweet moment for me. I applaud Rochelle’s move to take on new professional challenges but I will miss her deep concern for students, critical intellect, and positive spirit. Over the past seven years, as a trusted and valued colleague, she made many enduring contributions to the Skidmore community. She was a productive member of the President's Cabinet and a passionate and committed advocate for Skidmore's students. I have appreciated her creative approach to promoting such strategic objectives as intercultural and global understanding and responsible citizenship, as well as her leadership on the co-curricular dimensions of Skidmore’s educational mission.
As Skidmore's chief student affairs officer, Rochelle has been responsible for overseeing all student services, including athletics, residential life, leadership activities, religious and spiritual life, volunteer services, student diversity programs, Student Academic Services, the Career Development Center, and the Health and Counseling centers, among others.
Rochelle's Skidmore achievements include co-leadership of a new student housing initiative, which involved the planning, design, and construction of the $42-million Sussman Village, and collaborating with Academic Affairs to develop programming that strengthened the link between academic and residential life. She also led a campus-wide revision of Skidmore's Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, restructured and renamed the Career Development Center to better support student needs, and supervised the development of a $78-million comprehensive athletics facilities plan. She was a regular attendee at home athletic contests of the Skidmore Thoroughbreds, cheering athletes on the field and court in all seasons.
Her broader community involvement included service on the boards of directors of Home Made Theatre, Planned Parenthood of the Mohawk Hudson Valley, the Greater Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, and the Sponsor-a-Scholar Program, through which she also served as a mentor.
Rochelle joined the Skidmore community in July 2008 as Dean of Student Affairs, coming here from Mount Holyoke College, where she was executive director of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association and earlier served in a series of positions in student affairs. She holds a B.A. in theater arts and politics from Mount Holyoke and an M.F.A. in theater from Columbia University.
I am pleased to announce that, beginning September 1, 2015, Gail Cummings-Danson, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Athletics, will serve as Interim Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs for the coming academic year. As many of you know, Gail has served the College admirably since June 2005. I very much appreciate her willingness to step up and take on these new responsibilities, and I have full confidence in her ability to fulfill them. In the coming months, we will complete a national search for our new Dean and VP for Student Affairs. Details regarding this search will be forthcoming in the near term.
Before Rochelle departs on August 31st, there will be a reception on Tuesday, August 25, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at which friends and colleagues can gather in her honor. We will send an invitation to this reception shortly. In the meantime, I know the Skidmore community joins me in offering sincere thanks to Rochelle for all that she has accomplished here along with our very best wishes for her future success.
Philip A. Glotzbach
June 19, 2015
Dear members of the campus community:
Once again, our country arose this week to news of a tragic shooting, this time claiming the lives of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. Both local law enforcement officials and the FBI are investigating this event as a hate crime, and it may rise to classification as a terrorist act. As President Obama said in his own remarks, we have seen far too many incidents of gun-related violence and race-related violence in our country – especially over the past few months. We know that despite having made significant progress, our society has failed to fully bridge the racial divides that too often continue to separate us – as individuals and as citizens of what we so desperately need to be the United States of America.
Skidmore College has a duty to play a role in bridging that divide. This work begins with our campus. We continue to make progress but too many continuing incidents provide constant reminders that we have much to do. We know that there are many members of our own community, including members of the student body, staff, and faculty, who often feel that they are not fully included. At the end of last semester, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun wrote to our students about hateful comments that were made on social media following an attempt by students to raise awareness of events then transpiring in Baltimore.
We have moved to become a more diverse community than we were some years ago: more diverse racially, more diverse in terms of national origin, more diverse socio-economically. And our progress will continue. But now, we need to move from diversity to inclusion – to being a community where everyone feels invited to participate, one in which all members’ voices are heard.
We are taking concrete steps to advance further toward this goal. These steps include our forthcoming naming of a Chief Diversity Officer, and our recent sending of a team of eighteen people – Skidmore students, staff, faculty, and administrators – to the annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). Through programming and a focus on inclusion throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, this team is committed to assisting our Diversity Quad leaders and the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU) in moving our community forward. Our new pilot Staff Advisory Group will also be charged with taking up this important mission.
Some of the most important changes we can make will be in the way we treat one another. Let us renew our commitment to show everyone respect through our actions, not just our words. This does not mean that we all need to agree on everything. Being the inclusive community we seek to be means providing spaces to deal with disagreement. If we are all thinking the same way about important issues, then some of us are just not thinking. In an educational community especially, diversity must include a diversity of ideas. Indeed, participating in robust and challenging discussions of differing opinions will help our students develop the resilience they need to live in the still-imperfect world they will enter upon graduation.
We mourn with those who have lost loved ones in Charleston. The dead and injured are members of our national community, so we all share in this loss. The presence of hatred and intolerance in the American community remains a national tragedy that we all must overcome together. Let us begin by looking within ourselves and resolving, in the words of Gandhi, to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Once again? Never again!
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach
An update from the President to the Campus Community
June 18, 2015
To the campus community:
Thank you to everyone for all you did to make 2014-15 a terrific year. While the preceding months certainly presented some challenges, we all worked together to educate a great group of students and were rewarded with a beautiful sunny day for Commencement on May 17. We welcomed some very special Honorary Degree recipients this year in Julian Bond, renowned advocate for social justice, and Dr. Sally W. (Penny) Chisholm, Skidmore Class of 1969, environmental scientist extraordinaire. We also enjoyed the wisdom of our own Tisch Family Distinguished Professor of Economics Mehmet Odekon and the President of the Class of 2015, Soraya Attia. Several students also produced a touching farewell video for their classmates to mark the occasion.
I’d like to take this opportunity to update you on three items: The decisions made and topics undertaken by the Board of Trustees at its final board meeting of the year; admissions statistics for the class of 2019; and some of the key items on the agenda for the coming fall.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees took the following actions:
- Approved the operating budget with revenues projected at $148.1 million and expenses of $147.5 million for FY '16, which includes an increase of 3.5% in the comprehensive student fee and an internal discount rate of 38.4% to support our financial aid budget.
- Approved a 2.5% general salary adjustment (GSA), as well as funding for a new employee dental benefit that will be instituted as part of open enrollment in January.
- Announced that our endowment had grown to $338.2 million, a new high.
- Accepted the joint recommendation from the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), as previously approved by the faculty and President’s Cabinet, to close the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program (MALS), with the stipulation that the process extend for a reasonable period to allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree requirements.
- Finalized the promotion of five faculty members to Professor: William Lewis, Philosophy and Religion; Daniel Nathan, American Studies; Viviana Rangil, Foreign Languages and Literatures; Mark Rye, Psychology; and James (Rik) Scarce, Sociology. In addition, the Board approved the promotion of John Cosgrove to the rank of Librarian.
- At the Board's February 2015 meeting, Trustees approved granting tenure (as of March 1, 2015) and promotion to Associate Professor (effective June 1, 2015) to five faculty colleagues: Amy Frappier, Geosciences; Heather Hurst, Anthropology; Larry Jorgensen, Philosophy and Religion; Eric Morser, History; and Aiwu Zhao, Management and Business.
- The Board appointed of five new Trustees: Alex Egan '05, Thomas Newkirk, Diana V. Perry '89, Kim Roy Tofalli '80, and Thomas Wilmot, Jr, '99.
- The Board received the Task Force on Divestment's final report, to be reviewed by the Investment Committee this summer in advance of a comprehensive discussion at the Board’s October 2015 meeting.
- The Board approved the creation of a new division, the Office of Communications and Marketing – functions that previously had resided in Advancement.
The Board also heard:
- A report on Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore, highlighting the fact that the campaign has surpassed the $87 million mark.
- A presentation by Associate Dean of the Faculty Karen Kellogg and Sustainability Coordinator Levi Rogers on the Campus Sustainability Plan.
- A review by the Strategic Planning Committee of several key challenges affecting higher education and Skidmore. These include: Connectivity and Technology, Partnerships, Yield and Financial Aid, Fundraising and Engagement, Expenses and Costs, and Industry Trends.
Admissions results to-date for the fall entering class include the following:
- Expected enrollment totaling 680 students (645 on campus and 35 in London), a number that is slightly over target (by 25 students) but well within our projected range.
- A class demographic that includes 22% domestic students of color, 13% international students from 32 different foreign countries (half of whom are from China), and a gender breakdown of 37% male and 63% female.
Over 8,500 prospective students applied to Skidmore this admissions cycle, the second largest applicant pool in our history. As always, we anticipate a few slight changes between now and September, but the class is largely set and represents a good outcome for the College.
Our fall agenda includes these initiatives:
- The completion of a draft of the next Strategic Plan, which we will review in detail with the community.
- Extended work on our Middle States self-study report in anticipation of an early March reaccreditation team visit.
- Continued conversations around a new general education curriculum.
- The appointment of a Vice President of Communications and Marketing.
- The appointment of a new Chief Diversity Officer to lead our efforts in this critical area.
- A continuation of our work in the area of sexual and gender-based misconduct.
- The expected formal launch of a new Staff Advisory Group, in which I continue to encourage interested staff members to participate.
In the meantime, we have already embarked upon our usual busy summer: hosting a variety of conferences and institutes, student and faculty research, and alumni events including the annual Palamountain Benefit, exhibitions, concerts, and readings. And we will continue apace on our scheduled construction and maintenance efforts that include the renovation of Waring House on North Broadway, the Admissions building, and the lower floors of Jonsson Tower for Health Services, which is temporarily relocated near Wiecking Hall, preparing a new geothermal field in anticipation of the construction of the Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS), and numerous other projects.
I want to close with a commendation for our Dining Services team of Eric DesRosiers, Stephen Field, Ben Niese, and Paul Karlson who won a gold medal at The Taste of the World Chef Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst earlier this month, besting teams from Harvard, University of Michigan, and Cornell University, among others. Clearly, the world is learning how fortunate we are to live and eat at Skidmore. Congratulations and bon appétit!
And to all of our colleagues throughout the College, a healthy and happy summer.
Philip A. Glotzbach
An end of semester update
from the President to the Campus Community
May 7, 2015
To the campus community,
With the semester coming to an end, I want to provide an update on a few key initiatives and acknowledge, again, the very good work being done by so many people across our entire community – staff, faculty, and students. I know that this is a particularly busy time in the semester as faculty and students push hard to bring their coursework to a close, our athletic teams wrap-up their seasons, and many others are working to prepare the campus for several waves of visitors to arrive very soon – first for commencement, then reunions, and finally our summer programs. I wish all of you success in your various endeavors.
In many ways, Skidmore has never been stronger – our endowment is growing, our finances are stable, and we have consistently met or exceeded our targets for entering classes. At the same time, along with all other institutions of higher education, the College faces many significant external challenges. Those range from continuing concerns about cost and value to an increasingly difficult regulatory environment. We also are continuously striving to make improvements and changes in the face of new challenges. Of special importance is our determination to keep our community a place that is welcoming and safe for all people regardless of their race, gender, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. With that as backdrop, there are three key areas of focus for us at the moment: institutional planning, campus climate and community, and financial stability.
We have been engaged over the past year in a number of major planning efforts – the drafting of a new comprehensive Strategic Plan, our ten-year Middle States reaccreditation, as well as reviews of our general education requirements, our sustainability initiatives, our investment policies relative to fossil fuel holdings, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS), and our communications program. I note that we are making progress in each of these areas. Progress, as charged by our Board of Trustees, includes reaffirming our core mission and continuing with programs that contribute to it, but also making the tough decisions to discontinue particular areas.
As you saw from Associate Dean Karen Kellogg’s recent email, we now have an exciting new Campus Sustainability Plan. The five Middle States working groups have kept to their timeline and have just finished drafts of their respective sections of the self-study report. Work toward the Strategic Plan continues to be discussed with the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Board of Trustees. At its upcoming meeting, the Board of Trustees will review recommendations from The Task Force on Divestment’s Report on our fossil fuel investments, our MALS program, and the reorganization of our communications area.
Some of the reviews referenced above will affect both our organizational structure and staffing. The communications review, which has been underway since January and is now complete, will lead to several major changes. This work was undertaken in response to the transformation of higher education marketing and communication. The most significant recommendation is to move the communications function out of Advancement and establish it as a stand-alone division. In addition, we will make several key programmatic shifts, reallocating resources to expand our marketing, social media, and web units, and eliminating the Office of Community Relations. This work will greatly enhance our ability to meet the many new challenges we are facing in this fast-changing arena. As part of the reorganization, four colleagues will be leaving the College, Debra Coleman, Kirstin Drabek, Dan Forbush, and Bob Kimmerle. I want to recognize how difficult it is to eliminate an area of the College and to express my deep appreciation for their good service and many contributions.
A second significant organizational change is the proposed closure of MALS. The Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP) and IPPC reached this decision after careful consideration. Their joint recommendation was accepted by the faculty at its meeting this past month and will now be presented to the Board of Trustees for final action at their upcoming meeting. MALS has served the College well for many years, and I want to express great appreciation for the contributions of our colleagues Sandy Welter, Jacqueline Scoones, and Ellen Eldredge, and others before them, in working to make that Program a point of pride.
Skidmore’s funding comes principally from three sources: tuition revenues, endowment income, and fundraising. We are nearing the close of another very successful admissions season, and our current expectation is that we will open next year with a class that is slightly (15-25 students) above target and with a lower-than-anticipated need for financial aid. These two developments have positive implications for next year’s budget and should ease, in the short term, some of the considerable pressure we have felt in recent years on our financial aid budget.
We are also having another solid year in fundraising. Total gifts are projected at $22-23 million, and the Skidmore Fund should exceed last year’s total and reach the $7.1-7.3 million range. Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore, now in its second year, stands at $84.5 million in gifts and pledges and should hit $86 million by year’s end. One area of continuing focus is the Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS). We now have $37 million in hand towards that project, including $32.5 million in gifts, but this total is still a good distance from our ultimate fundraising goal for this project. This project remains a top priority in the fundraising work the Advancement staff, the Campaign Executive Committee, and Marie and I are doing.
Finally, the endowment continues to perform well and, as of March 31st, stands at $338.2 million in market value. We have also received $5.6 million in gifts to the endowment for the year and anticipate receiving another $5-7 million in the coming year. The stability of our endowment, in addition to our strong admissions picture and fundraising, contributes to our strong bond rating (currently A1) by Moody’s Rating Service. The longer-term outlook, however, remains concerning, particularly in terms of our affordability by middle class families. It is something we will need to monitor closely and, when appropriate address proactively. We will have much more to say about this and related issues in the fall as we return to more public discussions relating to the new Strategic Plan.
Community and Campus Climate
First, recognizing that the Skidmore community now extends well beyond the borders of the campus, Marie and I want to note that our continued thoughts are with those victims of the earthquake that devastated Nepal on April 25, 2015. We thank those who acted quickly to reach out to the members of our community who have connections to that area, including a few of our current students, and to those who have facilitated efforts by the Skidmore community to provide relief and assistance to those affected by this tragic event.
More locally, building a strong campus community has been a primary focus for me for much of the past several years – with special attention in the last two “Strategic Action Agendas.” I want to acknowledge the work done in this regard by many members of our community, but it is evident that we still have a long way to go. Student activism surrounding the recent civic unrest in Baltimore touched off a series of exchanges between community members on Yik Yak that make it clear that our community is struggling with the very same issues of racism and intolerance that are present in communities and college campuses across the nation. Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun addressed this issue directly with our students in an e-mail she issued earlier this week, and I want to reinforce her statement that these behaviors will not be tolerated on our campus. We are a community that operates on a basis of respect and responsibility and I, once again, call upon all of us to live up to those values.
I also believe that it is time for additional institutional responses to this challenge. The Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU) proposed the creation of a new senior administrative position of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to energize and lead our efforts related to diversity and inclusion. After careful consideration and lengthy conversations, it is clear to me that we do, in fact, need a senior member of our administration who can help us move this agenda forward and achieve progress in areas such as campus climate and the retention of faculty and staff of color. We will inform the community of how we will proceed in the near future, but I expect to have someone in place by the end of our next academic year at the latest.
A second area of focus this year has been sexual and gender-based misconduct. This is another instance where the ultimate solution lies in how we – and, in particular, how our students – treat one another. At the same time, we must continue to do all we can institutionally to ensure the safety of the community and also to ensure that we treat everyone fairly. The public conversations organized by the Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct provided valuable feedback on our current practices and policies, and we will hold additional sessions this coming year. We will also continue to monitor best practices nationally, as well as the changing regulatory landscape to ensure that we remain in compliance with all pertinent laws. We also will continue to explore new ways of engaging all members of our community in affirming everyone’s right to live without fear of sexual exploitation.
Finally, I want to report on some of the ways in which we are following up on last year’s staff survey. This past week, I and several members of President’s Cabinet held an open meeting with staff members to discuss how we might explore the suggestion of creating a staff advisory group. While there is a range of opinion on what this group might look like, there is general agreement that it is an idea worth pursuing. Given that, I have asked members of President’s Cabinet and Human Resources to work with interested staff to facilitate the creation of a pilot staff advisory group to President’s Cabinet. The goal is to create a vehicle for staff to share ideas and thoughts on a range of institutional issues, and I encourage all interested staff members to participate. I appreciate the positive contributions that have been made by those members of our staff who have been regularly meeting on this issue. Please look for a forthcoming communication regarding the announcement of the next meeting.
One take-away from the range of topics discussed above is that we can never stay still as an institution. Higher education, in general, and Skidmore College, in particular, continue to operate within a framework of challenges and opportunities. Given the rapidity, ubiquity, and unpredictability of the changes we must confront, it is evident that the institutions that will flourish and grow are those that can anticipate the challenges and embrace ways to see them as opportunities – both to improve what we do and to distinguish ourselves, in a positive sense, from our peers. Given the abundance of talent, creativity, and dedication on our campus, I am confident that as long as we continue to be anchored by our tradition of liberal education, we will have great prospects for continuing the successes of recent years. Together we are at our best.
I wish all of you well with whatever it is that awaits you this coming summer. And I look forward to seeing our seniors and their families as well as our faculty and staff at Commencement, May 16th.
Philip A. Glotzbach
President addresses complex issue in all-College letter
April 2, 2015
To the Skidmore College community:
The recent controversy surrounding a case of sexual misconduct on our campus has underscored both the considerable complexities involved in addressing this issue and how far we still have to travel in making Skidmore the type of community we all want it to be. After more than eleven years at Skidmore and as a parent myself, I am profoundly troubled by the problem of sexual assault in our country and its persistence on our campus and so many others. Such acts do violence to our core values and have no place in our community. In the past few years, we have redoubled our efforts to foster a climate of respect, with the safety of our students as our top priority. And even as we might disagree on the means of achieving it, I do believe we all share the goal of creating a campus environment in which all members of our community are free from mistreatment, harassment and the threat of violence.
Understandably, people are asking many questions. Some of these questions are answered on our web site. But our ability to respond to questions about any specific incident is constrained both by laws regarding the privacy of student records and our own institutional practices. Even so, this moment represents an opportunity for all of us to reflect and to learn. For my part, I believe it is important to review what Skidmore already is doing, the principles that guide us, and how we all can help move our community forward. To that end, it is important to acknowledge some of the complexities I mentioned above:
- We are not alone in facing the issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct. All colleges and universities are dealing with this challenge, and none has completely succeeded in overcoming it. Furthermore, the Office of Civil Rights, under Title IX, requires that all colleges enforce policies that prohibit sexual and gender-based misconduct and, when it is determined that a violation has occurred, take immediate and effective steps to end the behavior, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.
- At Skidmore, individual cases of alleged sexual misconduct (and appeals arising from those cases) are adjudicated by Hearing Boards that comprise highly-trained and dedicated staff, administrators, and faculty members, all of whom have volunteered to undertake this difficult work on behalf of our community. They are charged with applying our policies, which have been developed after extensive input from the community and in very clear ways represent our values, one of which is to protect the rights of everyone involved. So all of us have a stake in upholding the integrity of our policies, and we need to acknowledge that the College is not free to pick and choose, at a given moment, which aspects of our policy to enforce and which to ignore.
- As has always been the case, we continue to evaluate and, where necessary, revise our policies and procedures. This year alone, we have submitted those policies and procedures for review by two different external teams of experts in this field. The College’s Board of Trustees has spent considerable time discussing and interrogating our policies as well. The Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, which includes students, administrators, and faculty members, has held four Open Forums on this topic (the most recent occurred on March 24th) in addition to hosting a webinar for alumni and others earlier this week (March 31st), and we are exploring additional opportunities for input in the coming months.
- Disciplinary records, which are part of students’ overall educational records, are protected by Federal law (FERPA). Therefore, both because of legal requirements and institutional practice, we do not disclose such records. This means that, unlike the students involved, the College is not at liberty to provide the details about individual cases that would be required for a full and robust public discussion. So any such public conversation necessarily occurs in the absence of complete information. Especially when the media become involved, the consequences of this asymmetry in the ability to comment are just something we all have to be aware of and accept.
- Many of the voices we are hearing have urged us to adopt what would appear to be a simple and straightforward policy: anyone found responsible for sexual and gender-based misconduct should be expelled. We have considered this option – and we will continue to evaluate it – but there are other important dimensions to this question that also need to be part of the conversation:
a. First, sexual and gender-based misconduct encompasses a broad range of actions – from verbal harassment to violent assault. And therefore we have to look carefully before imposing a single, mandatory sanctioning requirement to cover that entire spectrum of behavior.
b. Second, our present policies already allow us, where appropriate, to expel a student who violates our policies. In fact, we have expelled students in the past for sexual and gender-based misconduct. Those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by the Hearing Boards and reflect the judgment of the members of those Boards regarding all the complex and highly nuanced factors present in every case.
c. Third, as many institutions have observed – and as corroborated by testimony from members of our own community who have self-identified as survivors of sexual assault – reporting drops markedly when hearing boards are required to impose mandatory sanctions. The last thing we want to do is to make it less likely for students to report incidents of alleged misconduct.
d. Fourth, our current procedures allow the person who filed the complaint of sexual or gender- based misconduct to make recommendations for the Hearing Board to consider in determining the appropriate sanctions. For this reason, it has felt beneficial to reporting individuals for the Board to have a range of options before it and not just a single mandatory sanction.
I believe most of us would agree that prevention of unwanted behavior is the key to creating the community we all desire. Policies and procedures to deal with reported incidents are necessary and important. But at a Campus Conversation a week ago Tuesday, several students observed that the change we all want to see ultimately won’t come from a policy but rather from students themselves changing how they treat one another. As I said above, our goal is to foster an environment in which people act toward one another in accordance with our values. A major focus of our efforts here is programming to provide students with the skills to intervene in situations where someone might be at risk. Another important contribution is the Student Government Association’s “It’s Happening Here” campaign, which is raising awareness and generating support for action among our current students. But each of us has a role in helping to create the positive campus environment we desire.
We will continue to evaluate our policies, processes, and procedures – attempting to use what we learn through our experience, what members of the community say to us, what we see in the legal and regulatory environment, and what we hear about best practices at other institutions. These are complex, emotionally laden issues, and there are many perspectives across our community that must be represented in our deliberations. Ultimately, we are unlikely to be able to create a policy that will satisfy everyone. So we need to listen attentively to one another and engage in these conversations in good faith, presuming that even people who might disagree with us can still have the best interests of our students and the College in mind. We are in this together.
Philip A. Glotzbach
(Please note: President Glotzbach has written about this topic several times during the current academic year. Please click here to see earlier correspondence.)
Message from the President regarding
Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct
February 27, 2015
To the Skidmore Community:
As President, I am determined that Skidmore live up to the values of mutual respect and caring that are central to our educational mission. That commitment is being tested by the continuing challenge of sexual and gender-based misconduct on our campus. Recent local and national developments have highlighted the difficulty – and yet the importance – of effectively addressing this issue. It continues to be imperative for me to underscore my dedication to do all we can as a College, both to ensure the safety of our students and to treat every individual affected by these issues with fairness and respect.
As I reported last summer, we have significantly strengthened our policies and procedures in this area. We have also made important advances in our educational programing, with a particular emphasis on effective consent as fundamental to responsible sexual relationships. These efforts have been made not simply to ensure that we meet or exceed all current federal and state laws and regulations but also, and more importantly, to help us achieve our goal of creating a safe, respectful, and caring community. This work is not finished. Indeed, we are reminded almost daily about the ongoing attention we need to give to this issue, both at the College and in our larger society.
To ensure that our policies reflect best practices in higher education, our own experiences, and changes in existing laws, we continue to review all of our policies and procedures, seeking to improve them whenever and wherever we can. The public forums held in the fall provided valuable guidance from the community about possible policy revisions. And in fact, we have made a number of changes, even since the beginning of this academic year, while others remain under active consideration. I have asked Mariel Martin, Director of Student Diversity Programs, Title IX Deputy Coordinator, and Chair of the Advisory Council for Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct to communicate with you in the coming days to outline those changes. Please review our website on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct.
Lastly, even as I reiterate my own commitment to addressing this issue, I acknowledge that eliminating sexual and gender-based assault at Skidmore ultimately will depend on the willingness of each member of our community to embrace this goal. Our Student Government Association (SGA) has provided admirable leadership through the “It’s Happening Here” campaign and the SGA photo campaign. Other student voices also have been raised in support of survivors of assault and have called for institutional change. But in the end, ideals must be lived. Doing so requires a daily effort by each of us to respect and care for every other member of our community. For this reason, I once again call for your continued support for – and your personal commitment to – this work that is so crucial for us all.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Honorary Degree Recipients for Commencement 2015
February 24, 2015
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am pleased to announce that at the 104th Skidmore College Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 16, 2015 I will confer honorary degrees upon two exceptional individuals:
Julian Bond, longtime civil rights activist, politician, writer, and faculty member at American University.
Sallie W. "Penny" Chisholm '69, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at the M.I.T.
Both of our distinguished guests will address the graduating class. Linda Toohey, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Soraya Attia, President of the Class of 2015, and I will also offer our congratulations.
Following a Skidmore tradition, a faculty member selected by the graduates will speak to the graduates as well. It is my pleasure to report that the senior class has selected Dr. Mehmet Odekon, Professor of Economics, as this year's Faculty Commencement Speaker. Professor Odekon has been a member of the Skidmore faculty since 1982. He recently co-currated the “Classless Society” exhibit at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery and teaches and writes about economic globalization, income distribution, and poverty, particularly in Turkey.
Click here for more detailed information on this year's honorary degree recipients.
For more information on Commencement 2015, please see our website.
We look forward to celebrating with the Class of 2015 and their families in May by which time, presumably, the snow will have melted.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Message from the President to the Campus Community
20 January 2015
Members of the Campus Community,
Today marks the beginning of the spring semester with 816 courses, hundreds of independent studies and internships, and numerous formal and informal student groups all getting underway. And despite the snow and the cold, sooner than we realize, spring will begin to make its appearance on the campus. It also seems fitting that we resume our work just as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., particularly given his commitment to advancing the agenda of justice and opportunity, both of which will be central elements of our efforts over the coming months. For now, I’d like to give a brief overview of some of what we will focus on this semester with the very large caveat that many of us will, of course, be engaged in various other important and worthy activities as well.
A number of student, faculty, and administrative groups—among them the I, Too, Am Skidmore campaign—will continue to advance a wide-range of initiatives focused on making Skidmore the community we all hope it can be and know it will be. Without diminishing the important work that all of these groups will undertake, I would highlight two events, both sponsored by SGA’s Speaker’s Bureau, that are especially timely in light of national conversations sparked by the cases of Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner:
- On March 5th, Ta-Nehisi Coates will lead a discussion on how race is lived in the United States today. Mr. Coates is a Senior Editor and National Correspondent for The Atlantic and author of The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack.
- On April 1st Bryan Stevenson will discuss his book Just Mercy, which details his role in the defense of Walter McMillian. Mr. Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama and a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.
Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy Review
The Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct will continue the work it started in the fall by focusing on incorporating the ideas gleaned from its open forums into proposed changes to both our policies and procedures. In addition, SGA will launch its Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct awareness campaign aimed at stopping sexual assaults and building a culture of respect, while the Board of Trustees will take this topic up at its February meeting.
Student Workers' Minimum Wage
As of January 1st, the College will increase student workers’ pay to current New York State minimum wage standards. This follows a very thoughtful and productive series of discussions among various groups on campus that culminated with a unanimous vote in support of this measure by the Institutional Planning and Policy Committee (IPPC) at its December 19th meeting.
Middle States Reaccreditation
Our work on Middle States reaccreditation continues apace with a particular focus on the concept of integrative learning. “Integrative learning” refers to the process by which students intentionally make connections among their courses, their curricular and co-curricular lives, and the many issues, ideas, and concepts that mark a high quality liberal education.
The College is exploring integrative learning from five perspectives: 1) General Education Review and Reform; 2) the FYE, the Sophomore Experience, and Beyond College; 3) Physical and Digital Spaces for Integrative Learning; 4) Diversity, Inclusion, and Integrative Learning; and 5) Responsible Communities: Civic Engagement, Sustainability, and Values and Ethics. Working groups have been developing reports on each of these areas. These should be complete by late spring and will be collected into a larger document for consideration by the entire community in the fall.
Staff Survey Results
Based on feedback from staff during our recent staff survey, we have taken the following actions:
- Changed our terminology to refer to all non-faculty employees as "staff."
- Changed e-mail communication list names to combine “admin-prof” and “support-staff” to a single “staff” list.
- Revised the Inclement Weather and Other Emergency Closing/Delay Policy to include one additional inclement weather "floating day" to be used for bad weather.
These are just a few of the ideas we are considering and I expect to announce additional changes in the coming months.
Task Force on Divestment
Our advisory Task Force on Divestment has been meeting since last fall and we expect this work to become more public over the next few months. I refer you to Task Force Chair Jim Kennelly’s community e-mail of 1 December 2014 for an update on the work of that group.
Fundraising and Communications
Since June 1, 2014, we have secured nearly $13.4 million in new commitments to Creating our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore. That brings our overall total to $75 million and we are seeking another $5-10 million by year’s end. And in the area of marketing and branding, we have recruited a group of alumni and parent experts to collaborate with us on developing a plan to more effectively leverage our brand. The next steps are to conduct a comprehensive audit of our entire communications operation and to develop an in-depth, multi-year brand strategy, both of which we expect to complete by late spring/early summer.
Our winter sports teams have been hard at work since late December.
Congratulations to the Women’s Basketball Team who are in the lead in the Liberty League standings and to the Men’s Basketball Team who are undefeated in Liberty League play. Please come out and support all our teams. The “Big Green Scream” will be held this Saturday. The women will host William Smith at 2 p.m., followed by the men's game against Hobart at 4 p.m.
Office of the President
Following Liz Bourque’s retirement last year, Jeanne M. Sisson has taken on the role of Special Assistant; she manages my calendar and Marie’s and my travel for the College. I am also pleased to welcome Susan W. Koppi as our new Board Coordinator. She will handle all items related to the Board of Trustees, including honorary degrees and communications.
As I announced in my 8 January 2015 communication, this semester Mary Lou W. Bates, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid is undergoing an administrative review, which is a routine performance review of senior administrative officers every six years at Skidmore. Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart is chairing the review committee and has sent requests for the community to participate in the review. I ask that you please do so. Please note that your comments will be held in the strictest confidence.
Under the auspices of the IPPC, I continue to work on drafting the new Strategic Plan. Once a solid draft is available, we will be gathering community comment.
I will also continue to hold open Community Meetings, Fireside Chats, and Open Office Hours throughout the semester. Please take advantage of these opportunities to hear additional updates and to make your voice heard.
This partial listing of events and initiatives provides just an indication of the many facets of College life. I wish you well as we embark on what promises to be an exciting spring semester.
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach, President
Message to the Skidmore community
December 11, 2014
To the Skidmore Community:
As we near the end of the semester, I know that many of you, particularly our faculty and students, are focused on completing your classwork in anticipation of the winter break. This is, indeed, where your attention should be, but our work does not exist in a vacuum, and that is why I write to address the recent and deeply disturbing events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and elsewhere.
Many have asked whether the young black men who were involved in those events—Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice—would have been killed if they were white and whether the police officers should have found non-lethal ways to handle those incidents.
We, of course, have no way to answer these questions. The frequency, however, of incidents that tragically result in the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers force us to ask a larger question: Do we in effect have two criminal justice systems that operate in very different ways, one for white citizens and another for citizens of color?
Even if one does not believe that this perception accurately or fully reflects the complex underlying reality, the fact that so many of our fellow citizens, particularly from the many communities of color across our nation, do believe it is corrosive to the civic unity that is essential to any democracy.
In short, this is not just an issue for black Americans. It is and must be a concern for all Americans. It must be a concern for the members of law enforcement who truly do wish to serve and protect every member of our communities, for the politicians who are elected to lead those communities, and for the community organizers, clergy, social activists, and so many others who work daily to erase the scourge of racism from our country.
The very personal and local nature of these concerns has been made clear by the recent demonstrations on our own campus, and I want to applaud the efforts of those involved to make the point that black lives decidedly do matter and that we, as a nation, can no longer turn a blind eye to what has sadly become a tragedy of disturbing proportions.
Struggling with issues of this breadth and complexity is exactly what places like Skidmore should be doing. Moreover, we want our students to engage with their studies, not just in an intellectual sense but also in a personal and moral way—to see the world as an arena for action in which they ultimately must be engaged as well.
As citizens of an increasingly multicultural and multiethnic society and world, our students must understand the dynamics that have structured—and continue to structure—interactions among populations, especially when those dynamics reflect differentials of political, economic, or social power.
And as informed, responsible citizens of a democracy, Skidmore students will share responsibility for the shape of our society—especially in its political life.
At a time of year that should be devoted to joy and celebration, let us acknowledge, honor, and share the pain that too many people in our country are experiencing as the result of racial and other factors that continue to divide our nation. Recognizing that, more than ever, we are all in this together, let us also recommit ourselves to the great American project of creating a nation that truly offers liberty and justice for all.
Philip A. Glotzbach