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Fall 2000

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News Briefs

State funds well-wired Tang
Just the facts, Ma’am
Luce grant to bring Asia scholar
College guide rankings
Mellon aids teaching of community values
Newcomers oversee information resources


State funds well-wired Tang

Joseph Bruno ’52, the New York State Senate majority leader, this summer announced $200,000 in state funding to underwrite high-technology wiring and equipment in Skidmore’s new Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Especially with state-of-the-art computing and multimedia technology, the impact of the Tang “will extend beyond the confines of Skidmore College to enrich the entire Capital Region,” says Bruno.

The funds will pay for computers, projectors, audiovisual systems, and extensive cabling throughout the museum. “More and more of what we do—in education, information, art, everything—is driven by new technologies,” says Charles Stainback, Dayton Director of the Tang. “As a new museum in a new millennium, we have to be ready. With this grant the Tang can provide the infrastructure to let artists, students, and faculty make use of technology in a seamless fashion.”

With such capabilities, Bruno adds, the Tang will provide “a tremendous boost to the cultural and economic development” of the Saratoga and wider Albany area.

Just the facts, Ma’am

With so much statistical information—from census figures to economic reports—being excerpted and edited by politicians and pressure groups, where can you turn to get the facts plain and simple? Well, you could hunt down separate reports and compilations from their many sources, or you could use the Skidmore-Saratoga Study Group’s new Web site.

Directed by Thomas Lewis, Quadracci Professor of Social Responsibility, the SSSG site (click on it from www.skidmore.edu) contains data on municipal budgets, demographics, taxes, transportation, and other aspects of public life that might help local legislators, planners, and voters. Some areas are incomplete, and it will require regular updating, but already the site lists types of employers, numbers of workers with college degrees, and average commuting times for workers in Saratoga and several similar cities; year-by-year tables of working populations, unemployment percentages, and populations by age group from 1990 to 1999; comparisons of municipal budget expenditures on fire, police, and other services; and much more. The figures come from the Census Bureau, New York State comptroller’s reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other public sources; the SSSG compiles and composes the data for convenience and usefulness.

Lewis explains, “Our goal is to provide reliable information, unbiased and uninterpreted. The group members have various opinions and backgrounds, but we all agreed to leave our political biases at the door.” The group currently includes six Skidmore faculty members, two students, and four local businesspeople.

Lewis says his decision to form such a group sprang in part from his appointment to the Quadracci chair, whose mission “I take very seriously.” He believes “the notion of an informed citizenry is essential” and the Web site is “a good way to put the expertise at Skidmore into the hands of the community.”

Luce grant to bring Asia scholar

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded Skidmore a major four-year grant to fund a new faculty position in East Asian anthropology. In addition to salary and benefits for a junior faculty member, the grant provides $10,000 per year to enhance Asian studies on campus.

According to William Fox, chair of the sociology, anthropology, and social work department, the grant will “help us enhance an increasingly important area of anthropology. In addition, as enrollments in anthropology have been rising for years, this will help us meet that need.” The East Asian emphasis will complement current anthropology specialties in Native North America, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Robert Linrothe, associate professor of art history and director of Skidmore’s Asian studies program, believes that an East Asian anthropologist could bring transformative improvement to the program. While it has been strong in language study and historical perspectives, Linrothe says it will benefit greatly from the addition of more social science. “To have this balance could make Skidmore’s Asian studies program a model for schools our size.” Linrothe also sees the new faculty member offering “a rich contemporary cultural perspective,” which is particularly important for students who study abroad.

Skidmore is one of ten beneficiaries of the Luce Foundation’s Fund for Asian Studies this year; other grantees include Carleton, Middlebury, Occidental, Sarah Lawrence, and Williams Colleges.

College guide rankings

For the first time Skidmore College has been included the top tier of “national liberal arts colleges” in U.S. News & World Report and its popular guide America’s Best Colleges.

The new status is due to a change in the ranking system. In prior years, U.S. News listed the top forty out of 162 national liberal arts colleges, and Skidmore placed just below the line. This year the list includes the top fifty schools, with Skidmore at number 47, tied with both Dickinson and Beloit. Robert Morse, the guide’s director of data research, says the tier was expanded to parallel the top-fifty grouping used for major universities.

Says Skidmore president Jamienne S. Studley, “Of course we like being called a tier-one school, but we’ve known all along that we’re a top liberal arts college with many distinctive qualities that can’t be measured by a formula.” She adds, “Like many of our peer institutions, we have serious reservations about the U.S. News rankings in terms of both data and methodology. What’s more important than a formula is the match between a student and a college, and the distinctive qualities of an institution, such as the close student-faculty interaction at Skidmore.”

Mellon aids teaching of community values

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has granted $47,600 to Skidmore’s presidential discretionary fund to support initiatives in developing community responsibility, values, and leadership during college and beyond. The grant closely reflects Skidmore president Jamienne S. Studley’s strong interest in the cooperative processes of community life.

Areas targeted for the funding include mediation, faculty advising, and the law and society program, whose curriculum includes negotiation, problem solving, and service learning. In fact, the program is now called law, citizenship, and justice and will have a new introductory core course and capstone course. LCJ is also working with student affairs staff to integrate the academic program with the student judicial system. According to Anita Steigerwald, associate dean of student affairs, one idea is a peer mediators program aimed at “helping students to resolve differences and gain an understanding of other values and perspectives.” To get the program started, student affairs hopes to bring in mediation professionals to teach a workshop for student leaders early next semester. Says Steigerwald, “The seed money from the Mellon grant will help us develop an important dimension of campus life.”

Newcomers oversee information resources

Skidmore’s information technology services and Scribner Library have new directors this fall.

Bret Ingerman has been named director of the Center for Information Technology Services (CITS). He is responsible for academic and administrative computing and media production services.

Ingerman was formerly assistant vice president for information technology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. He had also served as executive director of IT and director of academic technologies. Earlier he worked in a number of computing and instruction positions at Syracuse University, where he earned a B.S. in psychology and an M.S. in behavioral neuroscience and experimental psychology.

Ingerman says IT at Skidmore has a strong base in staffing, resourcefulness, and insititutional commitment, and says, “Now that everything we do is mission-critical, we need to move our technology up a level in terms of stability, robustness, and scalability.” He supports what he calls a manageable level of innovation: “Liberal arts colleges should be early followers—not lagging behind and not blazing too many trails,” though he adds, “a few trailblazers keep things interesting.”

Skidmore’s new head librarian, Barbara Doyle-Wilch, comes from Augustana College in Illinois, where she was library director and then dean of academic services. She has worked at several other college libraries as well, including Butler University, her alma mater, in Indianapolis.

She holds an M.A. from the Graduate School of Librarianship and Information Science at the University of Denver. But that’s her second master’s; her first is in dance, from Butler’s Jordan College of Music. In fact, she was a founding member of a modern-dance troupe in Indianapolis.

In her second career, as a librarian, Doyle-Wilch notes that quickly changing technology is a major challenge for libraries. “We want to give students the skills they need to conduct their research and to be critical about it. Just because information is easily available, for example, through the Internet, does not mean it’s the best material to use.”

 


© 2000 Skidmore College