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Executive summary College-community connection
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Executive Summary:
College-community connection
by President Philip A. Glotzbach

Skidmore’s location in Saratoga Springs stands as one of our greatest assets. The college and the city have grown together for more than a century, intertwined in a mutually beneficial relationship that has helped make Skidmore one of the finest liberal arts colleges and Saratoga Springs one of the most attractive and livable small cities in the country. We highlight the area’s quality of life when speaking to prospective students (and their parents), and it helps us to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff members. Saratoga and its environs give the college a powerful “sense of place,” and the region provides an amazing range of cultural and recreational opportunities year-round. No wonder so many of our alumni return here to live and work!

Over the past several years, we have become much more intentional about celebrating and enhancing our strong town-gown relationship. A recent study calculated the college’s annual contribution to our regional economy—our aggregate “economic impact”—to be at least $340 million (click here to view the full report ). Similarly, our arts and educational offerings are a major driver of our area’s booming “creative economy.” From the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to the Beekman Street galleries to Skidmore itself, the city is alive with the visual and performing arts. During the academic year, thousands of visitors attend on-campus lectures and performances, while many more (including dozens of school groups) take advantage of exhibits in the Tang Museum. The college becomes even more of a draw when we host our nationally recognized summer institutes and residencies in jazz, dance, writing, flute, and theater.

Skidmore’s mission statement includes the expectation that each student will progress toward becoming an informed, responsible citizen whose life is marked by active participation in civic discourse, political decision-making, and other forms of community engagement. Encouraging our students’ involvement in the Saratoga Springs community is one way in which we help them achieve this important educational goal. Together our students, faculty, and staff members contribute thousands of hours each year as volunteers—sitting on local boards, serving in food pantries, creating marketing plans for local businesses, coaching youth sports teams, tutoring grade-school students—in short, doing all of those things that make a community work.

We are steadily expanding curricular opportunities for our students to grapple with real-world problems in the Saratoga community. The feature stories in this Scope Quarterly present many examples of these civic engagement and community service projects.

A key goal in Skidmore’s current strategic plan is to broaden and deepen our role as a socially and environmentally responsible institutional citizen. Over the past few years, we have spearheaded Saratoga Reads (a communitywide, common-book reading program now in its fourth year), Skidmore Cares (a holiday food and children’s-book drive), and SaratogaArtsFest (a new festival of visual and performing arts held each June to kick off the summer arts season). Working with many other members of the Skidmore community who have contributed generously of their time and talent, Marie Glotzbach has played a key leadership role in these three efforts. And just this year, with the express goal of strengthening and expanding partnerships between Skidmore and the local community, we created a new community-relations office, led by former college-relations director Bob Kimmerle. Most recently, we have entered into a new partnership with the Adirondack Trust Company—a leading community bank with deep historical connections to the college—to create new financing options for local business start-ups.

Looking ahead, I see Skidmore’s contribution to the region’s quality of life only increasing. One major new asset will be our spectacular Zankel Music Center: its 600-seat concert hall will enable us to accommodate larger audiences and a wider range of performances than is possible at present. A key objective of our current comprehensive campaign, “Creative Thought, Bold Promise,” is to raise the funds required to construct this impressive new performance center and endow its operations—a total of $44 million.

Of course, the notion of serving Saratoga is nothing new; it was a driving consideration from the moment of our founding. When Lucy Skidmore Scribner created the Young Women’s Industrial Club in 1903, she envisioned a school that would provide practical skills and cultural enrichment to local working-class young women. In a relatively brief time, the club evolved to become the fully accredited four-year Skidmore College (chartered in 1922). Remaining true to our heritage of responsible citizenship will continue to serve both the college and the city very well.

This linkage between Skidmore and Saratoga Springs has created a vibrant cultural and educational synergy rivaling that of any community of our size in the country. It is a defining aspect
of both the city and the college. We will continue to do everything in our power to nurture and celebrate this special college-community connection.