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campus scene


"Hit the ground running" Commencement speakers share wisdom
Expert opinion: Mighty mushrooms, with Sue Van Hook
Tracking caregivers' burdens and benefits Crystal Moore studies problem
Taking happiness seriously Skidmore hosts conference on joy
Looking for Lincoln Multimedia "reading" for incoming freshmen
The Hudson runs through it New show at Tang
Gavel falls on Moore Hall "Pink Palace" sold
Skidmore closes UWW program Putting a price on value
Starstuck? Prof, students examine "cool gas and dark matter"
Arts on tap citywide SaratogaArtsFest returns


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.
After external and internal reviews, campus meetings, and forums beginning in 2007, Skidmore’s vice president for

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.”

UWW facts and features

• Founded in 1971, with a Ford Foundation grant, as part of the Union for Experimenting
Colleges and Universities
• Offered Inmate Higher Education Program at area prisons, 1974–95
• Top areas of study: studio and performing arts; business; psychology, sociology, and human services; education; American studies and culture
• Total alumni so far: 1,444, including 11 current Skidmore staffers and 52 public-school teachers, principals, and government leaders in Antigua and Barbuda
• Online study: 200 seminar-style courses, initiated with a 2001 Sloan Foundation grant, praised in a 2007 external review

A few recent alumni:
• Heather Dundas ’09 (creative writing), playwright and theater producer; PhD candidate at University of Southern California
• Michael Knight ’09 (religious studies), author of Taqwacores (dubbed “The Catcher in the Rye for young Muslims” by the New York Times); now at Harvard Divinity School
• Christina Salerno ’06 (nonprofit administration), former soloist with Royal Ballet of London; communications director for Salt Creek Ballet
• Lo Faber ’06 (American studies), musician and composer, God Street Wine Band; PhD candidate at Princeton
• Joaquín Chávez ’03 (Central American studies), active in El Salvador’s revolution and peace process in 1980s–90s; Torch Fellow in New York University PhD program in 2006–07
• Colin Greene ’01 (education and labor studies), former president, Caribbean Union of Teachers; princi pal of largest secondary school in Antigua and Barbuda