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Spring 2003

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President’s message
Navigation skills

Dateline: Saratoga Springs, March 6, 2003. It is almost surreal: between the moment I hit the “send” button for this column and the moment you read it, our nation will edge or hurtle closer to war. You will know, as I do not at this moment, whether we have stepped into that abyss and how we and the world have fared.
     
Our students and faculty are tackling the complex issues presented by the international situation with exactly the intensity you would hope for and expect. On Monday night Skidmore joined hundreds of sites around the country in mounting a public reading of Aristophanes’ satire Lysistrata, in which the women of Greece withhold sex from their husbands until they agree to end a protracted war. Last night students filled the Spa for a thoughtful panel discussion with government, religion, economics, and foreign-language faculty.
     At the same time, we’re facing our own institutional complexities as well. The financial environment for Skidmore, as for nearly every other college, university, and nonprofit group, is uncertain and challenging, as the special feature in this Scope explains. As we steer the college through turbulent waters and difficult choices toward long-term financial stability, we must navigate by the mission and values upon which we were founded and have traveled so far already. In the words of poet Adrienne Rich in An Atlas of a Difficult World:

Where are we moored? What
are the bindings? What be-
hooves us?

     In our recent institutional plan (www.skidmore.edu/planning), we affirmed our values, our moorings: enhancing the close connection of students and faculty; attracting and challenging the most talented, motivated, and diverse student body possible; and enriching the quality of community life. These priorities must continue to shape our choices for investment of our time and energy and capital.
     Our objectives are clear: to provide our students with the best education we can, and not only to preserve but also to strengthen the college for the future. To honor our responsibility to today’s students we cannot just stand still—the education of the ’50s or ’70s that served many of us well would be inadequate to recruit or serve the Class of 2003. Skidmore must provide not only a faculty, curriculum, and learning opportunities that encompass the traditional liberal arts but also Islamic religion and Middle East politics, information technology and advanced science research, and the intensive collaborative learning and high-quality arts experiences that characterize this college.
     Even in tough financial times, we must continue to make Skidmore better and stronger. As we are coping with current and planning for future budget constraints, we have been investing in new faculty positions and research support, innovative links between classroom and real-life experiences, international students, and student life.
     Skidmore has never had a great deal of money, certainly never enough to cover all of our exciting ideas for improving our students’ experience while also strengthening our support for faculty, staff, and facilities. And yet we have embraced new ways to learn and stayed true to that facet of our identity that respects innovation, boldness, and willingness to dare. The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, for example, was a bold investment that has repaid the college’s courage. This creative laboratory for learning has earned national recognition, pride for the Skidmore family, and a wide audience of fans.
     As a result of such gains, we are in a stronger position as we make critical institutional choices. Securely tied to its moorings, its values, Skidmore will weather the storm.

 


© 2003 Skidmore College