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Scholarships of every stripe ...and other campaign news
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Scholarships of every stripe

With the economy in trouble, many families need financial aid more than ever. Although Skidmore is having to tighten its budget overall, it is increasing its financial aid budget. In fact, since 2004 Skidmore’s aid budget has risen by 68 percent, thanks primarily to donors who want to support student access, diversity, and achievement—core aspects of the College’s strategic plan and also a $50 million goal in the current $200 million campaign.

Scholarship gifts can take almost any shape, size, and style. Here’s a small sampling:

Honor and memory. Lynda Shulman ’91 was “a very special person. The shock and despair of her sudden passing in 2007 left a void in our lives,” according to Heather Dubinksy Geisman ’91 and Susan Sonnenberg ’91. Last year, along with Margaret Raymond ’91, they joined in celebrating the spirit of their friend’s life by creating an annual-fund scholarship in her honor.

The award goes to a female business major, and this year the recipient is soccer standout Emily Quirk ’10. The classmates hope that she will be able to develop the same kind of “special friendships that we shared and will carry a piece of Lynda’s business spirit into her future career.”

Class spirit. When the class of 1959 began to plan for its 45th reunion, classmates already knew their priority was to provide student support. In commitments over a five-year period they contributed more than $1 million to the annual fund. And each year they have fostered a warm relationship with their Class of 1959 Scholars, some of whom they have mentored and supported since their arrival as incoming first-year students. Through letters, postcards from study abroad, and campus meetings including the annual scholarships celebration, the donors and recipients have built personal ties.

For Susan Clark Jorgensen ’59, “Having a student in each class connected to our class is certainly special.” And Sheila DeNadal Salvo ’59 has learned from the scholars about Skidmore’s “diverse curriculum in a diverse community unlike anything we knew. It is humbling for me to see how each of the ’59 Scholars has taken advantage of this opportunity.”

No wonder their upcoming 50th-reunion gift will go toward continuing the scholarships. For this year alone Jorgensen and Salvo are rallying classmates to raise $300,000 by the end of May—part of their plan to fund and facilitate more of those special donor-student relationships for years to come.

All in the family. Daren Lipinsky ’94 is grateful for his Skidmore education, with a philosophy major plus a law-and-society minor. He says his college experience has played an important role in his life and in the success of his law career. To give back to his alma mater and help others reap similar benefits, Lipinsky has joined his parents, Jeffrey and Sheila, in their Skidmore philanthropy. For 15 years his parents have underwritten student access and diversity through annual-fund gifts as well as an endowed scholarship, and now the family has made a campaign pledge of $150,000.

Jeffrey and Sheila say, “We firmly believe that no qualified students should be deprived of a Skidmore educational experience due to their financial situation.”

Students for students. The class of 2008 announced record-breaking results for its senior-class gift effort at Commencement last spring. More than $9,000 was raised from 94 percent of the class, including a best-ever 110 donations at the student Friends of the Presidents level of $100 or more. Continuing the seniors-helping-juniors tradition, the Class of 2008 Scholarship was awarded to Kappes Emmons ’09.

The chairs of the effort, Drew Fidler ’08 and Danielle Starr ’08, say it’s all about Skidmore’s “close-knit community, where exceptional role models encouraged us to push beyond our limits and think outside the box.” Learning about philanthropy through the gift program helped the senior class “begin a new relationship with Skidmore in which we are the role models.”

Stepping it up. Meg Reitman Jacobs ’63 has been a Skidmore fan since day one. She currently serves the Friends of the Presidents program, both on the national committee and as her class’s FOP chair. She and husband Howard have given to the Friends of the Tang fund and have especially enjoyed connecting with the student recipients of their annual-fund scholarship.

Last year, as part of a 45th-reunion effort that raised more than $1 million, the Jacobses took the step of starting an endowed scholarship fund in their name. Meg says, “I’ve been thinking about an endowed scholarship, and with my reunion and the campaign, it seemed the time was right.” She’s eager to begin meeting her new scholarship students, and adds, “I’m delighted to know that I am helping make a Skidmore education possible for them!”

Leaving a legacy. Emily Cross Farnsworth ’59 and husband Jerry have arranged a trust that will benefit both Skidmore and his alma mater, Trinity. “‘To whom much is given, much is expected’ was absolutely instilled into me and my schoolmates in Ohio by parents and teachers alike,” she says, adding that Skidmore gave her a lot, including a start on her career as a schoolteacher and later as a librarian. In retirement her “true love of lifelong learning” led to serving as a docent at art museums and private libraries. For her, the trust is a special thank-you to Skidmore, “to help students who couldn’t otherwise afford it, because I can’t think of anything much more important!” Jerry’s $7 million commitment coincides with Emily’s 50th reunion in May.

Faculty ties. Henry Galant, professor emeritus of government, has been a mentor and friend to generations of Skidmore students. The founder of Skidmore’s government department, he was a faculty member from 1954 to 1986. His late wife, Eleanore, was director of publications for many years. The couple contributed to Skidmore in several ways during the past half-century, including a book fund in their name and another as a memorial to a 1979 alumnus. The Galants have been the subjects of gifts and honors too—from the Galant Reading Room in Scribner Library to the annual Galant prize for a top government student. Always a favorite figure at alumni clubs and re­unions, Henry received an alumni-association Outstanding Service Award in 1984.

Not only has Galant indicated his plans to leave an estate gift to Skidmore, but he also recently took steps to establish the Henry and Eleanore Galant Scholarship, supported by an endowment that will last in perpetuity, providing financial support each year for future generations of Skidmore students. The hope is that others will contribute to the fund as well, and the first scholarship aid will be disbursed in the fall of 2011. —SR