ut of fifteen waking hours a day, I usually spend about eight at the office. So it’s critical to my well-being that those hours be reasonably pleasant and satisfying.
Lucky for me—and I thank my stars for it every day—the entire college relations office is infused with a spirit of respect, good humor, and collegiality that I’ve rarely seen elsewhere. We all do our best to leave our neuroses at home each morning, but we welcome and celebrate each other’s peculiarities, talents, passions, and quirks. Even our routine staff meetings (even when several of us are on deadline and antsy to get back to our computers) overflow with lively argument, candor, wit, and warmth. I treasure that—actively, consciously, gratefully.
As anybody with money or power knows, when you’re sitting pretty you get very conservative. If you have something to lose, the status quo is worth defending. So I was plenty worried early this fall by the impending retirement of Scope’s associate editor.
Anne Crookall Hockenos has been at Skidmore fourteen years; she welcomed me into the editor’s post ten years ago. Along with magazine work—including authoring some 300 alumni miniprofiles for the classnotes pages—she compiled and edited the entire college catalog every year. The wife of retired Skidmore philosopher Warren Hockenos and mother of faculty member Matthew, Paul ’85, and Timothy ’89, she’s very much a force unto herself as well.
Anne served Skidmore as institutional historian and encyclopedia, Saratoga who’s-who resource, bibliography and geography fact-checker, proofreader par excellence, and general quality-control inspector for countless written works. I pride myself on exactitude bordering on curmudgeonliness, yet there have been times when Anne’s perceptive, incisive insistence on correctness has put my own persnickitude to shame. So has her generosity, integrity, and class.
Losing such a colleague wasn’t a happy prospect. But I managed to accept the ancient yet New Age notion of change as opportunity, and, lucky for me (again) wound up with Maryann Teale Snell as Scope’s new associate editor. Highlighting Maryann’s varied work experience was a ten-year stint on the magazine at Mount Holyoke College, her alma mater. And highlighting her personality is just the mix of talents, passions, and quirks that’ll enrich the good chemistry and esprit de corps of our oh-so-lucky office.
Anne was sometimes asked to check a final draft or printer’s proof with the desperate plea: “Could you put your pencil away, sit on your hands, and try not to find any errors?” Already Maryann is developing a reputation around the office for the same slash-and-burn style of editing that Anne and I relish. Anne sometimes has a certain vinegary edge, especially in defense of what’s right or just. Maryann’s first response is more often a quip, but with a tart zing of her own. Their minds are similarly sharp—not cutting or skewering, but smart, in all its definitions: they pique you awake, make you flinch, and get you focused and thinking and in the game.
All in all, this staffing change has been a piece of cake, and I’ve made out like a bandit. I keep the benefits of a decade of Anne’s partnership, and I get to start up another one with Maryann. I’m honored, tickled, and gratified to share the care and feeding of Scope, and half my waking hours, with the likes of such colleagues. —SR