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Winter 2003

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On campus

Faculty focus


Arts on view

Alumni affairs
and development

Class notes



Meet the Friends of the Presidents

Established in 1966, the Friends of the Presidents Society recognizes the college’s most generous donors, who set an example of leadership in annual giving (the gift level for membership is $2,000, with a sliding scale of lower levels for the most recent classes).

While many alumni say Skidmore had a profound impact on their lives, Leighton Jordan ’78 is among the few who can claim they had a comparable effect on the college and the community of Saratoga Springs.
     Jordan was a freshman when he and two friends from the class of 1977 decided to start a polo club. The following year, Skidmore men’s polo was competing with Yale, Cornell, Harvard, and other top-ranking teams (Skidmore’s women’s polo players simultaneously became intercollegiate champions), capturing the attention of Harvard promoter Hal Chaffee, who invited the Saratogians to challenge a premier polo team on tour from Oxford, England.
     Seizing the opportunity, Jordan and his teammates hosted Oxford on October 15, 1977—the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War. The following day the front page of the New York Times sports section proclaimed, “The British have returned to Saratoga with mallets instead of muskets… Once again, the British were defeated by the colonies.” As Jordan recalls, “The whole town went wild; there were banners everywhere, and people were yelling in the streets.”
     But there was more. A chance remark made by a local feed dealer started Jordan searching for the site of a polo field created in 1901 by Harry Payne Whitney. The original Saratoga Polo Field—which attracted some of the era’s most famous thoroughbred racing owners and enthusiasts—was abandoned after its final season in 1935. Piecing together information from old photos, newspaper clippings, and the memory of a former Whitney maintenance man, Jordan found what he was looking for—in a cornfield a few miles from Skidmore’s campus. The Saratoga Polo Association was born there in 1979 and is still a preeminent venue for top polo players. Jordan returns to the site most every summer to serve as emcee for Skidmore’s Palamountain Scholarship Benefit Polo Event.
     Jordan looks forward to meeting up with classmates and former polo teammates at his 25th reunion in May. “Those were great times—we had a lot of fun,” he reflects. His decision to give at the FOP level this year has a lot to do with honoring those memories: “Our 25th is a special event, and it’s important to acknowledge that.” —MM


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