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Who, What, When
Skidmore closes UWW program
After extensive deliberations, Skidmore has determined to phase out the University Without Walls, its external bachelor’s degree program for adult students. In the face of UWW budget deficits and an increasingly competitive market, as well as heightened demands on Skidmore faculty and a changed economic landscape, the College concluded that closing the program, while painful and difficult, was in the institution’s best long-term interests.
academic affairs, Susan Kress, recommended the closure of UWW, and the faculty Committee on Educational Policies and Planning brought a formal motion in the spring of 2008. The faculty narrowly voted down that motion, and a working group spent the summer developing plans for a possible restructuring of UWW. Having considered the group’s report in the fall, two committees advised closure, and the faculty endorsed that proposal. In May, President Philip Glotzbach’s recommendation to close UWW was approved by the board of trustees—whose chair, Janet Lucas Whitman ’59, finished her own Skidmore degree in 1982 through UWW.
Founded in 1971, UWW has offered customized programs combining traditional college classes, independent tutorials, online learning, and other academic work. UWW’s adult students have come from a wide range of geographic locations and walks of life, and their degree programs, built on their professional and academic experience, have covered just as wide a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary subjects.
Now the playing field has changed. UWW is distinctive for its students’ engagement with a highly ranked liberal arts college—as Anne Kane, UWW ’87, told the Albany Times Union, Skidmore has had “a uniquely personal distance education program”—but today more and larger institutions are offering adult distance learning in an increasingly competitive market. At the same time, the increasing demands on faculty time for teaching, advising, and scholarship in Skidmore’s traditional residential program, combined with the College’s belt-tightening due to the economic down- turn, have raised concerns about maintaining UWW at the same high level. As one professor said in a faculty meeting, “We don’t have enough resources to continue to provide the quality of UWW experience that we’d want to.”
The closure plan ensures “a reasonable period of transition to allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree requirements.” UWW staff are estimating about two years to help some 80 students finish up their studies. Says UWW’s interim director, Deborah Meyers, “Our priority now is to sustain the program’s rigor, creativity, and dynamism.”
During the deliberations, committee chair Dan Nathan cited “the professionalism and integrity of the UWW leaders and staff during this anxiety-producing work. They are to be honored and saluted.” Glotzbach thanked “those who spoke with great convi ction on both sides.” Jeff Segrave, dean of special programs, called UWW “part of the bloodstream of this college for a long time” and said, “Skidmore honors its accomplished UWW graduates and values and encourages their active membership in our community of Skidmore alumni.” Glotzbach and the trustees have promised soon “to celebrate the successes of UWW and the commitment of faculty, staff, and students whose associations with this program have enriched the College for nearly 40 years.”
|© 2009 Skidmore College|