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Spring 2001

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On Campus




Alumni Affairs
and Development



People and Projects

Nursing informatics pioneer
Travails afoot for snail mail
Designing duo
Pianist to lead chorus
Arctic fox
Dance history
Close to home
Friends in time of need
Prevailing values

Nursing informatics pioneer

 When Virginia Joseph Saba ’48 traveled to Greece last year, she added another degree to her long list of credentials. At the historic University of Athens, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Schools of Health Sciences in recognition of her pioneering work in nursing informatics. Indeed Saba has long been a leading advocate for the integration of computer technology into all aspects of clinical nursing practice, administration, education, and research.

The honorary degree augments her Skidmore B.S. in nursing, M.A. in nursing from Columbia Teachers College, and M.S. and Ed.D. from American University.

The road from Skidmore led Saba down a dual career path as a nurse officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and as an educator. She has long affiliations with Georgetown University School of Nursing, where she was named Distinguished Scholar in 1997, and the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md.

Saba’s advocacy and expertise keep her in demand as speaker, writer, and workshop leader. And the book she co-edited with Kathleen A. McCormick, Essentials of Computers for Nurses: Informatics for the New Millennium, has just gone into its third printing. Her Georgetown Home Health Care Classification System for documenting patient care in computer-based record systems has been adopted throughout the U.S. and countries from Korea to Brazil to Switzerland.

Saba’s post as chair of the Nursing Informatics Special Interest Group of the International Medical Informatics Association keeps her on the international scene as well. Her three-year term began in May 2000 at the international conference in Auckland, New Zealand, and will culminate in the group’s 2003 conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.—KG

Travails afoot for snail mail

 Barely a month after being elected to a one-year term as chairman of the eleven-member board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service, Robert Rider ’50 was in the news. But it was not welcome news for letter writers who prefer to correspond by “snail mail.” Following January’s rate increase to thirty-four cents for a first-class letter, Rider issued a statement to the effect that the governors had voted unanimously for another increase as early as next year “to ensure the continued financial viability of the Postal Service.”

While the Postal Service is a government agency, which operates under laws set by Congress, it was the independent Postal Rate Commission that approved the recent penny increase and at the same time rejected or scaled back price hikes requested by the Postal Service for other types of mail, cutting expected income by $1 billion. Disappointed by the inadequacy of the increase, Rider said the governors nevertheless put it into effect “under protest.” However, when push comes to shove, the governors can overrule the commission by a unanimous vote.

Now, financial predictions appear even more dire. The weakening economy has led to a drop in mail volume (a record 208 billion pieces of mail were delivered in 2000), threatening the postal office with a potential total loss of $2 billion or more this year.

Appointed to the board of governors by President Clinton, Rider, of Rehoboth Beach, Del., is serving a nine-year term, which expires December 2004. When not involved in postal matters like setting policy or appointing the postmaster general, Rider serves as chair and CEO of O. A. Newton & Son, with divisions in agriculture and design-manufacturing of materials handling equipment. —ACH

Designing duo

Tucked into the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania is Berry Acres Llama Farm, run by two people whose careers were not even remotely connected to livestock until a dozen years ago.

When Elizabeth Ross Tweed ’89 was on campus this fall as a judge of final presentations in the Business 107 course, her Internet expertise came in very handy for the students whose business plan centered on An English major at Skidmore, Tweed became a Web enthusiast while studying communication technology in grad school—to the point of registering a few domain names before even starting a business. So when she mustered her design, copywriting, and technology experience and launched her own company in 1998, the Web address was ready and waiting:

Fortunately for Tweed, her mom was ready and available too. Barbara Senderowitz Ross ’57 came on board to handle the marketing and business end of the custom Web-site design firm. “She had experience running a successful educational software business,” says Tweed, “but she’s also very creative.” Indeed, in addition to her degree in sociology, Ross holds a certificate in floral design from the New York Botanical Garden—a real plus when Webweavers developed a Web site for a garden center. Ross often applies her designer’s eye to projects, but, she says, “it’s Liz’s hands that are on the computer.”

Business is booming for the mother-daughter team, who work out of an office in Old Greenwich, Conn. “We have too much work!” laughs Tweed, adding that they are lucky enough to collaborate with a great network of freelance designers and creative technical people.

Their own collaboration has always been easy. “We have the kind of relationship where we can just look at each other and laugh hysterically,” says Ross. “We laughed a lot in the beginning; we weren’t as serious then as we’ve become—now it’s 24:7.” —KG

Pianist to lead chorus

 The singers who founded the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia in 1982 believed that with the right leadership a symphonic chorus of professional and volunteer choral musicians could perform at a world-class level.

Now, with an acclaimed artistic director two years into his stewardship of the group and the announcement that Kim Martinelli Shiley ’75 has been named executive director, CASP expects that “this dynamic leadership team” will lead it to “even greater success in the future.” The musicians, who perform traditional and new music and have mastered thus far 190 works by more than 90 composers in 9 languages, began an “international” season in November with a concert featuring works native to Spain and Latin America.

An accomplished concert pianist, Shiley, a Skidmore music education major with a master’s in piano performance, brings to her new job twenty-five years of teaching and directing experience, as well an arts administration background, most recently honed at a multifaceted hospital arts program in Warren, Ohio. She says she’s excited to take on her new role with the Philadelphia choristers, whose “high artistic standards and innovative programming are an inspiration as well as a creative challenge.” —ACH

Arctic fox

 Women’s ice hockey has had its ups and downs as a team sport at Skidmore. If you asked New York State assistant attorney general Eileen Bryant ’75 if Skidmore coeds were icing the puck back in the early seventies, she probably couldn’t tell you. But ice hockey’s got her attention now, and for Bryant, it’s not just a spectator sport.

She did watch husband Bill Yoquinto and their children, a 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, lace up game after game to play in adult, Pee Wee, and Bantam hockey leagues. Then about two years ago, Bryant, along with other mothers in the Clifton Park, N.Y., area, decided to get out onto to the ice themselves and find out what was so great about the game.

The women, ranging in age from 24 to 53—among them stay-at-home moms, a disc jockey, Web designer, veterinarian, and chemist—first needed to learn the game. They found a couple of willing coaches and a half-sheet of ice for skills work and scrimmages. A year later the Arctic Foxes were ready for a bigger rink. “It’s been wonderful for me,” says Bryant. “I never expected at this stage of my life to pick up a totally new sport. I told my kids this is the first team I’ve ever played on.

“I look forward to it every week,” she told a Saratogian reporter.

In addition to the Foxes’ Monday night workouts, Bryant gets in some additional practice time. The state’s assistant AG brings her skates with her to work at the Empire State plaza, where she takes advantage of the plaza’s outdoor rink. —ACH

Dance history

Martha Graham’s contribution to modern dance was recognized by Skidmore College in 1978, when she was awarded an honorary doctorate at Honors Convocation. Although she died in 1991, the turmoil that surrounded her in life swirls on, evidenced by the acrimonious closing last year of the company she founded and the slow elimination of the Graham technique as well as her works from the world’s dance repertory.

The dissolution of Graham’s legacy is painfully detailed by New Yorker dance writer Joan Acocella in the February 19 & 26, 2001, issue. Acocella acknowledges the contribution that Robert Tracy ’77 has made to dance history, when she writes in “The flame: the battle over Martha Graham’s dances”: “Graham was an intense, volatile woman, who saw herself as a dancer, not a choreographer. She said that she made dances only to have something in which to perform. Many people did not take that statement seriously until the publication of Goddess: Martha Graham’s Dancers Remember, a collection of interviews by the journalist Robert Tracy, in 1996.”

That book had its beginnings back in the late seventies when then-dancer Tracy studied with and interviewed Graham soloists during a Skidmore winter term. Eventually Tracy compiled thirty oral histories from such modern-dance luminaries as Anna Sokolow, Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Taylor. Upon the book’s completion, Tracy said, “It’s so important that dance history be written by the dancers themselves…. I’m determined to get it all down as it should be.” Thanks to him, their words will survive; the fate of Graham’s dances is less certain. —ACH

Close to home

 Those who took in the alumni art show at Reunion 2000 saw a concept poster for a monumental public sculpture by the show’s curator, Craig Frederick ’85. Now they can see the sculpture itself, if they venture to downtown New Britain, Conn., where “Home” was unveiled in October. Frederick, whose work was also featured this past year at Bradley International Airport and in Practical Welding Today magazine, says the project took about a year from concept to installation. Working from Frederick’s four-foot design model, experts at Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon Falls, N.Y., fabricated the twelve-foot-high stainless-steel sculpture over a period of three months, after which the sculptor spent another two months finishing the metal surface.

Frederick was selected anonymously from among twelve Connecticut artists who had responded to the city’s call for proposals. He designed “Home” to give the viewer a welcoming arch from any direction. Frederick explains that it was truly a labor of love. “I did it for emotional reasons. The sculpture sits at the head of Arch Street. Five generations of my family have either lived or worked on that street.” He’s now finishing up postproduction on a documentary, Out of Line: the Making of “Home,” which he can take with him when he lectures in schools and museums. He may approach PBS with it; but perhaps more to the point, it will run on local-access TV in his home town. —ACH

Friends in time of need

When the son of close friends was diagnosed in 1993 with Fragile X syndrome, college pals Laura Kagan Marks ’85 and Linda Hubert Pressman ’86 wanted to do what they could to share the burden and, at the same time, celebrate the achievements of the young boy named Patrick. The result: an annual fundraising basketball tournament called Patrick’s Pals.

This June will mark the fifth year of what has become a weekend-long event held in Cambridge, Mass. Marks, Pressman, and their husbands run the tournament, using a three-on-three format. According to the organizers, “Hundreds of New England’s finest and not so finest have competed. The joy of participating in such a down-home, friendly, and well-run event brings many participants back year after year.”

The true focus of Patrick’s Pals, however, is to raise public awareness and funding for Fragile X, an inherited disorder that affects boys more severely than girls. Fragile X causes developmental problems, including mental impairment and emotional disabilities. Scientifically identified only fifteen years ago, Fragile X has no cure; the need for research aimed at treatment is a top priority. To this end, Patrick’s Pals raises money ($100,000 to date) through charitable donations and an entrance fee to the tournament.

Thus, the basketball is secondary. Marks explains, “The helplessness we all felt while watching our friends endure the pain of caring for a sick child was overwhelming. This tournament gives us a way to let them know that they are not alone in their struggle. Each year the bonds of friendship are renewed for a worthy cause, thereby adding some perspective and meaning to the work-a-day world.” —ACH

Prevailing values

 The mission statement for the North Jakarta International School (NJIS) reads in part “to help them [the students] form the basis from which to become lifelong learners and productive, involved citizens in a changing, global society.” The more one scrolls through the pages maintained by Web master Carey Forman ’97, the more NJIS sounds like a microcosm of Forman’s alma mater. The student-teacher relationships are close, gaining practical skills is encouraged, and music and art have their own new building. Perhaps NJIS’s educational philosophy, so similar to that of Skidmore, is what drew Forman and Lisa Byun ’00—two of the school’s twenty-one international teachers—halfway around the globe to teach in a school for 210 expatriate students.

Then on the other hand, maybe it’s the equatorial Indonesian climate. Filene Scholar Byun says, “I enjoy lying in the sun, breathing clean air, sipping coffee, playing piano in the morning and daydreaming to Brahms.” She teaches general music and strings to lower and upper school students. Forman, at the school since 1997, wears many hats. A trumpet player in Skidmore’s “big band” jazz ensemble and orchestra, he teaches music as well as computers and mathematics; and he coaches basketball, soccer, and volleyball.

However, lest we Northeasterners who have had to endure a winter with fierce winds and freezing temperatures long for a location where temperatures range from 60 to 90 degrees, we might want to consider that the world’s largest archipelago has only two seasons. There’s the summer dry season and what Forman and Byun are experiencing now: the rainy monsoon season, which began in November and lasts through May. —ACH


© 2001 Skidmore College