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features

Skidmore's $200,00 question Putting a price on value
An expensive college education Is it worth it?
Keeping up for the Joneses As tuitions rise, so does financial aid
Proving ground Quantifying quality learning
An educator's education One woman's story
Reaping rewards and paying forward The benefits of a liberal arts education
Both sides now Alumni instructors take stock



 

 

Reaping rewards and paying forward
Meet a few more alumni whose liberal arts educations have paid off handsomely for them:

Harry Alverson ’73,
managing director of the Carlyle Group:
investment banker working in the Middle East and elsewhere

I transferred into Skidmore in 1971, when it began coeducation. I came from the University of Virginia, where my campus life revolved around my fraternity, a very tiny orbit. At Skidmore the active social scene, no Greek life, and the bus-riding between the old and new campuses meant that everybody intermingled more. I majored in psychology and minored in economics, but I also got to know many people in the arts community, which was centered on the old campus back then. Coming from a fairly homogeneous upbringing, I found Skidmore’s diverse community in a compact setting was a big value for me and helped me open up personally.

My parents stretched hard to pay for Skidmore, and I had a campus job. I was certainly grateful for the experience of studying there. My daughter is now a Skidmore freshman. Most parents are willing to pay whatever they possibly can to send their children to the school they want, and I think it’s absolutely worth the sacrifice to send a child to a place like Skidmore.


Chris Henry ’91,

NFL director of player development:
counselor helping players finish college and prepare for life after football

One of the leverage points for my growth at Skidmore was serving as a head resident. It helped me in my maturity and in being a manager.

I majored in government because I wanted to help people, and then I pursued a master’s in social work
and went into executive coaching and development. I’ve transferred many of the skills from my professional experiences to my work in the NFL.

The Skidmore environment is conducive to personal growth, but you need to be very clear about your goals and take advantage of the opportunities Skidmore provides. There are some things you can’t put a price on—the friendships you make, the experiences you have, the opportunities you are given. I got a lot of that. Could I have gotten it at a less expensive school? Well, sure. But the money my parents spent didn’t go to waste, and my father has said he would do it again.



Nancy Hamilton ‘77,
partner at Jackson, Walker law firm:
litigator for corporate and individual clients around the US

At Skidmore I took courses in and “tested” disciplines I had never been exposed to before. One dividend of that experience is that I’m not afraid to explore. This has paid off in my career—for example, when I was involved in defending Oprah Winfrey against the defamation claims brought by Texas cattlemen, I became at least somewhat conversant with cattle futures markets, mad-cow disease, TV production, the World Health Organization, the FDA, the USDA… I’ve done the same learning for online auctions in the oil and gas industry, FCC licensing of TV stations, and many other issues.

Skidmore is expensive, but the quality of the professors, the students, and the campus facilities make it a unique opportunity. Because of some unknown donors, I was able to afford Skidmore; someone invested in me and made a real difference in my life. As Skidmore’s chair of annual alumni giving, I think scholarship gifts are not about paying back so much as paying forward, investing in the future. The return on that investment—someone like me, sometime down the road—makes it the best investment you’ll ever make.


Adi Carter ’02,
founder of Synthesis Designs label in 2002, now teaching yoga around the world

The freedom to create a self-determined major allowed me to fuse my passion for studio art with the practical problem-solving characteristics of mathematics (in which I was a Porter Scholar). And studying in Australia and Italy sparked my desire to experience other cultures as a student, not just a tourist. Now my daily life is infused with balancing the expressive and the analytical, to help me communicate with people of different mindsets as I travel and teach new students.

Skidmore exposes students to a wide reservoir of knowledge, a varied tool box to take into the world wherever you go—for example, I started my design label after graduation, because I wanted to design a variety of different things, not just graphics. Skidmore is a place where dreams grow and visions evolve, where minds are free to think creatively—with support and structure—beyond what you assumed to be truth and fact.


Carolyn and Ivan Gowan, Hamilton, N.Y.: parents of Teddy ’09
, summer river-raft guide in Montana

Teddy took courses at Skidmore that I wouldn’t have dared to take. He learned to play banjo! And that led to music-theory courses, and he even managed to work music into his senior capstone paper for his international studies major. How many colleges would have made that all possible?

At bigger schools, athletes are often told what courses to take. At Skidmore Teddy got a full, rigorous liberal arts education with electives, while playing hockey every year. Hockey was a huge growth experience for him. His professors would come to the games and bring their young kids; he really got to be part of a community. And as team captain, he learned how to navigate complex pressures and personalities and be a leader among his peers.

We’re already prejudiced toward private liberal arts colleges; we know the value of small classes, relationships with faculty, learning to write and think critically. But just the name “Skidmore” on his degree is another value. Not to mention the alum­ni connections he’ll be able to use, especially among those super-engaged hockey alums!


Cynthia Blum Carroll ’78,
CEO of Anglo-American, one of the world’s largest mining companies; cited as seventh most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2007

I dreaded Skidmore’s science requirement and took geology as a freshman to get it over with, but I loved the vibrant geology department. As a geology major, I spent a January term working in an Amoco research lab, and I later started my career at Amoco. After a Harvard MBA, I helped lead Alcan, the Canada-based global alumina firm. In 2007 I was approached by Anglo-American to become its first woman and first non-South African CEO. It has about 150,000 employees in 40 countries, mining everything from diamonds to nickel. I spend my days in mineshafts and meeting rooms, looking for new ventures and approaches and forging new relationships with government leaders and other stakeholders.

Thanks to Skidmore, while I was taking sciences I was also taking French, which I’ve used for much of my career. Skidmore helped me think independently and challenge differing views, and to realize the discipline and perseverance needed for success in the sciences. There I gained the courage to step out of what I thought was my natural inclination—to open my world far beyond what was imaginable for me at the time, and, ultimately, to be rewarded for it.

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