Class Notes    About Scope    Editor's Mailbox    Back Issues    Skidmore Home

Fall 2000

- - - - - - - - - -


On Campus



Alumni Affairs
and Development

Class Notes



People and Projects

Skidmore bridges generations
Wedding-day keepsakes
Teaching excellence recognized
Better care for hemophiliacs worldwide
People and planet before profits
Equestrian spectacle restaged
West Side story goes to Washington

Skidmore bridges generations

As Skidmore College history buffs know, Lucy Skidmore Scribner founded her industrial club early in 1903 so that young women in the area could learn both to earn a living and to appreciate the more aesthetic experiences in life. The offerings of the Skidmore School of Arts, as the enterprise became known in 1911, appealed to Salem sisters Hazel Roberts (back row, first on left) and Mina Roberts (Moore) (second row, fifth from left). Their diplomas for the one-year trade course were awarded in June 1912. Mina, upon completing the course at age nineteen, earned her livelihood as a seamstress in Salem.

 The relevancy of the sisters’ experience was brought sharply into focus at Commencement this year for Moore’s granddaughter Rebecca Moore Smith, UWW ’00, a single parent with two jobs and little time to sit in class. Smith, the project manager for planning and construction services at Skidmore and a fourth generation Salemite, reflected on the similarity of their educations. “Did my grandmother have the same sense of gratitude as I do that someone had the foresight to look beyond the normal and traditional and recognize the wants and desires of those who wished to expand their knowledge and horizons? Lucy saw the absence of practical education for women; University Without Walls saw an absence [of educational opportunity] for the nontraditional student. For that my grandmother and I will be eternally grateful. I am consoled that she cherished her diploma in domestic art in 1912 as much as I cherish my B.S. in management information systems in 2000. I am honored that they are both from Skidmore College.”

Wedding-day keepsakes

 The month of April is synonymous with showers, May with flowers, and June? Brides, of course. And there were brides galore lined up at the Los Altos Hills (Ca.) Council chambers this past June. Not flesh-and-blood brides but a display of custom-made dolls wearing wedding dresses crafted by Barbara Lord Richmond ’39. Drawing on many years in the fashion industry and her Skidmore degree in costume design, Richmond has over the past four years made eighty dolls in the image of real brides as keepsakes for wedding couples or as anniversary presents for wives and mothers.

Before the actual stitching begins, Richmond assembles wedding snapshots (front and back views), info about hair and eye color, a Barbie doll (she’s always on the lookout for redheads and brunettes since most Barbies are blonde), and fabric—most often remnants from Seventh Avenue bridal salons or vintage thrift-shop purchases. Working beside her child-size ironing board, she sews tiny pearls and sequins on dresses, makes miniature gloves, veils, shoes, and lingerie, and cuts and curls the doll’s hair into the same fashion the bride wore on her wedding day. As Richmond told the San Francisco Chronicle, she’ll do whatever it takes to make an exact miniature clone of a bride on her big day, and that includes soaking her head in boiling water overnight to get the hair style just right.

It usually takes Richmond two weeks to complete a doll, and she laments that her fee is “way below minimum wage.” But what hurts even more is parting with her creations. A grandmother of seven, Richmond likens herself to a foster mother who must part with her child: “I fall in love with them by the time I ship them off.”

Teaching excellence recognized

Volunteers: step right up. The application fee: a steep $2,300; the process: rigorous, time consuming, and perhaps painful; the rewards: it depends. Any takers?

You bet. Since 1995, some 5,000 public and private school teachers (prekindergarten through grade twelve) in the United States have voluntarily sought and received certification from an independent panel called the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. And in an effort to attract more teachers, many states are creating financial incentives to make the certification process more inviting. For example, in Florida, where legislators appropriated $12 million to pay 90 percent of the fee and provide the successful applicants a 10 percent salary increase, 568 teachers have earned the advanced certification.

Florida teacher Judy Johnson Carrico ’65, who holds a master’s in history and teaches AP American government and law studies in Altamonte Springs, applied for and passed the assessment in November 1999, the first year of eligibility for secondary social studies teachers. A teacher since 1965, Carrico says Florida’s financial incentives were helpful, but “in view of the amount of time and effort it took, this clearly was not a deciding factor. It was a challenge among other things that I decided to take.” She adds that she views national board certification as a way to enhance the professional image of educators.

The program is designed to help experienced teachers measure their skills using benchmarks set up by a panel of teachers, school administrators, union officials, lawmakers, and business leaders. During the school year, applicants videotape their classroom instruction, submit lesson plans and student work samples, and write essays reflecting on how they help students learn. The must write about their interaction with colleagues, parents, and the community. In the summer, they finish the process with written exams on the subject they teach as well as on teaching techniques. Typically, slightly more than half of each year’s applicants are certified. No wonder Carrico says she was proud when she heard her assessment results.

Better care for hemophiliacs worldwide

For some of us, what we know about hemophilia was gleaned from popular accounts of the last czar and czarina of Russia, whose son’s painful episodes were sometimes helped by the mystic Rasputin. But others, like Jane Cavanaugh Smith ’82, whose eight-year-old son is one of 25,000 hemophilia patients in the U.S., skip the historical fiction and go straight to the facts. They pore through scientific reports about the latest blood-safety advances and human gene-therapy experiments for news that might make children’s lives better.

Smith, who put her twelve-year career in investments to one side so she could spend more time with her son and younger daughter, volunteers with bleeding-disorders communities on the state, national, and global level. She organizes medical symposiums, support groups, family activities, and summer camps for the New England Hemophilia Association, while also serving as an advisor at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Especially rewarding, she says, is her role as program director for the Leadership Institute for Global Hemophilia Training (LIGHT), which organizes hemophilia societies in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Her travels to countries with less sophisticated medical resources—the Dominican Republic last January and a September trip to Moscow—give Smith a greater appreciation for the medical care her son receives. “We’ve had some scary times with Leland—many trips to the ER and longer stays in the hospital—but we've also made sure that he lives a normal, active life. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many foreign countries, where the medicine necessary to stop bleeding episodes is not available. We’re hoping to change that!”

People and planet before profits

The Democratic National Convention in August in Los Angeles provided an opportunity for social change activists like Lisa Fithian ’83 to speak out about the issues of greatest concern to them, and to protest the priorities of the Democratic Party and the current administration. Fithian served as spokesperson for the D2K Network prior to and during the convention. D2K is the umbrella group formed to mobilize social, political, community, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations in LA, whereas R2K coordinated protests at the Republican convention in Philadelphia. Their purpose was “to insure that both parties hear loud and clear that we demand priorities that support the people and planet before corporate profits.”

While DK2 was mobilizing, so too was the Los Angeles Police Department. With the anti-globalization protests at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle fresh on their minds, LAPD officials were preparing for potentially violent street demonstrations. In fact, protest organizers feared police might spark trouble by showing up in riot gear and perhaps even goading the demonstrators. Stressing that protest groups train in nonviolent techniques, Fithian told the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve been given every indication from the get-go that our rights are going to be violated and that they are going to engage in fairly repressive tactics. In theory you’d think it would play out just the opposite: Since they are known for being so brutal and inciteful, you would expect them to counteract that image by being especially cautious during the convention.”

Following the convention, the DK2 Web site was collecting reports of police misconduct for the ACLU and other civil rights lawyers. Text on the site confirmed a successful mobilization during DK2, and stated, “We will continue to represent our community to fight for our future.” Next on the agenda was a September solidarity march to support the anti-World Bank/IMF protests in Prague.

“Activist, idealist, organizer, and consultant” was the description of Fithian when she won the 1992 Palamountain Award for Young Alumni. At that time she said, “I learned two lessons early in life: I learned that there was injustice, and I learned that things can change because individuals can make a difference.” But some things don’t change: people and planet still come first for Fithian.

Equestrian spectacle restaged

 From archival descriptions, engravings, and the original score, a 1612 French equestrian ballet, Le Carrousel du Roi, was reconstructed this past summer at the Berkeley (Calif.) Festival and Exhibition, a biennial celebration of early and Baroque music. Stepping to the music of drums, trumpets, shawms, and sackbuts, the West Coast’s top dressage horses and riders executed zig-zags and pirouettes, high-stepping trots, and other choreographed moves with discipline and grace. “Circus lovers, balletomanes, and curiosity seekers all had their pleasures served by this stately and sweet event, a 75-minute flourish of music, declamation, military posturing and dainty hoof work by sumptuously costumed horse-and-rider teams,” observed the San Francisco Chronicle theater critic.

“Pleasure” hardly describes the reaction of Joy Stroehmann ’84, of Walnut Creek, the classical dressage rider who guided Mitch, a 20-year-old Hanoverian gelding, through two performances of the “Opposing Knights Quadrille.” For Stroehmann, “It was a blast! It ranks up there among the best couple of days in my life.” She did have some uneasy moments at the dress rehearsal, when Mitch first heard the Baroque music. “The horses went ballistic—they were terrified.” A little cotton batting stuffed in their ears solved that problem. Adds Stroehmann, “Fringed horsie hats were not part of the original costumes, but were added to keep the cotton in and wind out—the result was calmer horses and flashier getups for them.”

Stroehmann wasn’t the only one enchanted by the event; she says the audiences at the thrice sold-out performances loved watching the complex maneuvers. “This was very good exposure for dressage. It got people thinking and remembering the incredibly diverse and extensive roles horses have played in the history of man.”

West Side story goes to Washington

 This past May, Mary Ann Cardillo Fitzgerald, UWW ’00, was among the Americans fęted in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress’s Great Hall. The occasion was the completion of the Local Legacies Project—a joint effort by Congress, the Library of Congress, and communities across the nation to document local customs for safekeeping in Washington. More than 1,300 traditional activities or events were selected by members of Congress as “local legacies” to celebrate American cultural diversity as a bicentennial project of the Library of Congress.

Fitzgerald’s submission, “The Feast of St. Michael,” celebrates the history and culture of the Italian American community on the West Side of Saratoga Springs. A lifelong resident of the city (and retired secretary of Skidmore’s department of sociology, anthropology, and social work), Fitzgerald drew her Local Legacies contribution from her final University Without Walls project, an exhibit on the history of the city’s West Side, which in turn developed from the West Side Oral Narrative Project, a series of interviews begun by Fitzgerald and another woman several years ago. Their project was on public display at several venues around Saratoga last year.

For the Local Legacies program, participants documented their activity with photographs, videotape, audiotape, and written expression. Folklorists and curators from the Library of Congress provided guidance and suggestions for the massive documentary project, which is now housed in acid-free boxes in the Archive of American Folk Culture. U.S. Representative John Sweeney, from New York’s 22nd Congressional District, nominated Fitzgerald’s project for inclusion, and he appeared with her at the Library of Congress reception.


© 2000 Skidmore College