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The oratory suited the moment at this year’s Friends of the Presidents dinner, held just forty-eight hours after the historic US elections.
Making gifts of $2,000 or more (with a sliding scale of lesser amounts for alumni within their first ten years of graduation), Skidmore’s Friends of the Presidents are its primary investors; in fact, 93 percent of all charitable support last year came from FOP members. With stakeholder status like that, they were treated not just to a thank-you but to inspiring stories and a substantive report on Skidmore’s opportunities, obstacles, and way forward.
President Philip Glotzbach told the 300-plus guests at Rockefeller Plaza’s Rainbow Room that Skidmore’s recent advances, from the Arthur Zankel Music Center and the Northwoods Apartments to the First-Year Experience, were made possible in large part by FOP donations. “It is you who have believed in our shared vision and given so generously to enable us to bring that vision to reality.” Glotzbach acknowledged the gravity of the global economic crisis but allayed concerns about a decline in Skidmore’s educational quality. He said, “In addressing our economic challenges we are asking, ‘What is most important to us? What values do we have to preserve at all costs?’” and the answers are clear: “our students and their families, our faculty and staff, and our core educational mission.”
Glotzbach said that without the “inspiring generosity” that helped expand Skidmore’s endowment in past years, “we would be facing much more serious cuts in our programs.” Also, growth in the financial-aid budget, largely supported by gifts, has put Skidmore in a stronger position to weather the downturn. Ditto for support of the Zankel Music Center, where construction is proceeding as planned.
Glotzbach concluded, “What we do at Skidmore has never been more important or more necessary.” Fostering critical and creative skills for “a rapidly changing world—what could be more valuable in a time when age-old verities are turned on their heads on a daily basis and longstanding institutions disappear before our eyes?” As the presidential election reflects the American dream, he said, Skidmore’s campaign reflects its vision of helping students “to realize their own personal dreams and, ultimately, to transform our world.” —SR