Who, What, When
Microgreens Pond scum, trash purifier
Retirees plan to dig in Brown, Corr, Douglas, Erchak, Levinson
Table manners New d-hall sparks culinary, and social, interplay
String theory - and practice Music from East and West
Talking culture shock Guest lectures explore red-hot culture issues
Books Faculty and alumni authors
Big hit Thoroughbreds host girls' sports clinics
Sportswrap Hockey gets national nod
Retirees plan to dig in
Associate professor of dance Isabel Brown came to Skidmore as an instructor in 1969. Besides choreographing annual productions that often featured classic dances of India, she gave numerous lectures (on topics ranging from “A Ballet Tour of the Great Cities of the World” to “Dancing and Metaphor” and “Swan Lake…Again”), offered master classes at regional schools, and regularly took her students on field trips to see the New York City Ballet.
Among her courses—which included modern/contemporary dance technique, choreography, and dance history—her favorite, Brown says, was “Bharata Natyam, the dance of South India, where I saw students blossom into dedicated performers of an ancient and beautiful form.” Teaching in
the Liberal Studies and Scribner Seminar programs (“Stravinsky and Balanchine”; also “War and Peace and Eugene Onegin”) gave her an opportunity to connect her background in dance performance and history with literature and the fine arts, she adds.
Brown will miss her students and “the physical and mental excitement they contributed” to her classes. She and her husband are planning “a long vacation in Jasper, Canada, and an extended autumnal stay in New Hampshire (we love mountains!). Retirement will unfold,” she says. “In another year or so, I will know better what to make of it.”
Paul Corr, associate professor of management and business, has been at Skidmore since 1981, teaching accounting, finance, theory, business organization and management—and, of course, MB107. The best, he says, was “Corporate Partnership Taxation”: “That topic may not excite
most people, but the students loved it. “I never really looked at teaching as work, but mainly as something I enjoyed,” he adds. “It’s learning and teaching. Students learn, I learn. That’s the way the classroom should work. If you can excite students and get them involved, then it’s a lot of fun for everyone.”
Corr has a fondness for the Skidmore community and atmosphere (especially the Spa snack shop) and plans to stay connected. His retirement agenda includes traveling to France (he lived there for a few years and has a PhD in French literature), and staying involved in business (he has a small investment company and is a longtime board member of Espey Manufacturing and Electronics Corp., a Saratoga Springs–based maker of specialty power systems for military and industrial equipment). “And I play basketball,” he says. “Not well; people laugh. But I enjoy getting a quick workout, and the camaraderie. I don’t like to work too hard. I love teaching, I love playing basketball.”
Professor Joan Douglas started at Skidmore in 1969 and chaired the psychology department for several years. A clinical/developmental psychologist, her research interests include gender issues in children’s emotional development and the effects of parent death on adults. Her work has been published in research journals including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Omega.
A 1978 National Science Foundation award inspired Douglas to help develop Skidmore’s women’s studies program and teach “Psychology of Women” (her favorite class). Her part-time clinical practice also enriched her classroom teaching and led to her volunteering with the Albany CASA (Court Appointed Special Assistant) program, advocating for children in family court proceedings.
Her interactions with students—in the classroom and as an advisor—were “interesting and rewarding,” she says. A recent memorable moment came with a twist of humor. Douglas was saying good-bye to her last class, after thirty-eight years of teaching. “I made a mistake and
said fifty-eight years. The students figured I must be about ninety and looked horrified.”
In retirement Douglas plans to “travel, read all the books I’ve wanted to read, visit with my nine grandchildren, and sit by the ocean.”
Anthropology professor Gerry Erchak came to Skidmore in 1976. Over the years he received numerous grants for research in Brazil, South Africa, Micronesia, and elsewhere. Among his Skidmore classes were “Anthropological Perspectives,” “Psychological Anthropology,” “Sub-Saharan African Cultures,” and “Human Brain and Mind Evolution”; he also developed recent courses including “The Swahili Coast: Crossroads of Culture” and “HIV/AIDS: A Global Perspective.” He especially enjoyed two travel classes he taught with UWW colleague Chris
Whann in Ghana and Tanzania.
What strikes Erchak about Skidmore is that “each individual really matters, and you can get to know personally people at every level of the college.” The place has become “an extension of my house and my self,” he says, and he will miss all “the little quotidian pleasures.” Highlights of
his teaching career have included “hanging out with Joe and Anne Palamountain at the Skidmore Christmas party, rocking to David Porter’s keyboards at his inaugural bash, senior anthropology parties, dissing postmodernist theory at a Senior Week Symposium… I could go on and on.”
Retirement plans include traveling off-season for the first time. Also, he says, “I enjoy cooking,
and may take up bread-baking and pasta-making.” And now he’ll have more time to spend with
his four children and granddaughter.
Ruth Andrea Levinson
Ruth Andrea Levinson, professor of education, came to Skidmore in 1989. She’s taught “Adolescent Development,” “Integrated Teaching,” and “Child Development and Learning”—the latter being
her favorite, particularly after she added a service-learning component.
Getting to know her students during their four years at Skidmore and “watching them grow in
their knowledge, confidence, professionalism, and dedication” has been remarkable, she says.
“I have been so gratified and proud of them after graduation because they fulfill their promise and make a significant impact on children, their schools, and the field of education.”
Levinson also admires her colleagues, who share “a commitment to the mission of the college,
the students, and scholarship.” The Skidmore environment “encourages leadership, change, growth, and excellence,” she says, and supported her in creating Expanding Horizons: The Skidmore/Schuylerville Connection and promoting service-learning opportunities on campus.
She’s excited about having more time for “family, reading, writing, cooking, dressage, gardening, learning new languages, hiking, and skiing.” While she intends to stay “active in some type of educational endeavor and community outreach,” for now she welcomes “the chance to explore” before deciding where and how to dig in. —MTS