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Arts on view
Points of pride
by Beverly Harrison Miller í67, Alumni Association President
As I mentally thumbed through Skidmore topics dear to my heart for this column, alumni pride kept coming up on top. I talked it over with the alumni boardís working group on that very subject, and Ann Moses Douglas í56 put her finger on the one thing that symbolized alumni pride for all of us: Skidmore almost shut its doors in 1970, and look where it is now!
Although that episode is set out in Mary Lynnís history of Skidmore, Make No Small Plans, it isnít well known how desperate Skidmoreís situation was. Skidmoreís accountants had journeyed to the campus to tell President Joe Palamountain that Skidmoreís financial situation was critical. Their advice was to close the college and sell all its assets to pay off the debts. Skidmore was simply a noble experiment that had to end. But they didnít get the response they expected: legend has it that Palamountain slammed his hand down on his desk, chewed out the accountants, and refused to give up. Instead he demanded that they develop a plan to pull the college out of debt. And it worked. Here we are, flourishing, more than thirty years later.
- Admissions: Applications keep climbing, with each new year a record high of applicants, a lower percentage of applicants accepted (when this figure drops, selectivity rises), and strong freshman SAT scores, which have climbed fifty points in five years. (Alumni pride!)
- Students: Those selective admissions bring in some pretty amazing students: students who pursue collaborative research with their professors, students who work on environmental responsibility, students who serve the community with their volunteer work. The papers and projects accepted for presentation at the Academic Festival last spring speak to their scholarship. Our students are really nothing short of dazzling. (Alumni pride!)
- The campus: The Tang. If you havenít seen this new museum in person, youíve probably read about it. It has been featured in publications ranging from the New York Times to Architectural Digest to House and Garden. Not only this stunning building but its cutting-edge exhibits are changing the way people think about museums. Not for Skidmore a straightforward exhibit on maps through the ages -- ours was an interdisciplinary exhibit that ranged from early mapmakersí visions, to the double-helix of DNA, to conceptual art challenging the very idea of maps. Skidmore has become part of the national conversation on museums. (Alumni pride!)
- Faculty: Their scholarship and teaching are top-notch, and their work with their students is legend. If your local Skidmore club features a faculty lecturer, give yourself a treat and attend. And come to campus next August for a week of Summer Exploration, the program held each year for alumni and parents. This past summerís faculty offerings included an existential reading of Winesburg, Ohio; an examination of film noir; and a seminar on raku pottery. (Alumni pride!)
- The president: President Jamienne S. Studley is following in the footsteps of her predecessors: strong, energetic, positiveóa president who aims to help Skidmore become an institution of national importance. (Alumni pride!)
- The alumni: Weíre terrific too! But you knew that....(blush).