Community update from President Glotzbach
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the daily lives of all members of our community, and its effects are being felt across the country and around the globe in ways that we are still trying to comprehend. Once again, many thanks to our entire community for coming together during this challenging time and for stepping up and adapting to the transition to remote learning and working.
These circumstances compel us to think differently and to take unprecedented actions to protect the health of those in our community and our fellow citizens across the country. Based on the information we have today, future projections by public health authorities and guidance from federal and state officials, it is evident that the spring semester will continue to be disrupted.
Commencement and Reunion
In recognition of this reality, I am sorry to have to inform you that we cannot hold Commencement or Reunion as we traditionally have. This realization will most directly affect the members of the Class of 2020 and their families, as well as our alumni who had planned to return to campus with their classmates. Let me express my personal regrets to our seniors whose Commencement will not be celebrated as expected. Marie and I will be sad to miss Reunion, as well — we were looking forward to seeing members of the "0" and "5" classes. We continue to think about all our alumni and the broader Skidmore community around the world.
In the coming weeks, we will assemble a working group of students and other members of the Skidmore community to help plan an exciting, reimagined Commencement that will occur when the time is right. We know Commencement represents an important culmination of four years of hard work by our seniors — and significant investments by their families. Members of the Class of 2020 will be engaged in discussions about ways we can celebrate and appropriately mark this important milestone.
Similarly, we will work with our various alumni leadership groups over the coming months to plan for a rescheduled Reunion. We know that hundreds of alumni eagerly look forward to this special opportunity to return to see one another and enjoy a rich weekend of programming and events. We’re eager to welcome you back to campus when the time is right.
Ongoing support for our campus community
The resilience of the Skidmore community is evident as we continue to face this major threat to our nation, and I am confident that our community, as always, will rally and employ the creative thought that makes Skidmore so special. We are all in this situation together, and it will take our continued collective efforts to deal with it effectively.
As the College continues to follow health and social distancing guidelines, most staff and faculty members are working remotely, while a small group of others continue to work on campus to support our faculty and students as they continue to teach and learn. With the extension of federal social distancing guidelines until April 30, we anticipate the need for most employees to continue working remotely will extend into May. To the best of our ability, the College will continue paying all members of the faculty and staff, regardless of their ability to work remotely.
As we continue to care for employees and students during these unsettling times, we are also processing student room and board refunds that will be completed over the next few weeks. We will be communicating directly with families regarding the amount of these refunds. In addition, the College provided funds to assist students who are in local off-campus apartments.
Supporting our extended community
Beyond our Skidmore community, we are paying attention to the needs of our Saratoga Springs community. Last week we provided support to Saratoga Hospital by donating 85,000 protective gloves, 60 N95 masks, hundreds of goggles and protective eyewear, disinfectants, and other essential items currently in short supply due to the pandemic.
I commend students and the COVID-19 student working group who spearheaded a fundraising effort, the Student Emergency Fund, in collaboration with the Office of Advancement that to-date has raised $31,000 to provide direct cash support to students facing unexpected costs as a result of the pandemic. The process to get these funds where they need to go was developed and is being led by a group of student leaders in consultation with the College’s offices of student affairs and finance. Clearly, the spirit of caring endures, and I have no doubt it permeates our entire community.
Beyond our campus, we are thinking about our students who have returned home or to other locations. I want to reassure them of our support during a very difficult time, especially for those with family and friends in the most affected areas across the country and around the world.
I thank our entire community for continuing to support one another through this very challenging time. We will continue to provide you with updates in the days ahead as more information becomes available. We remain hopeful that this global health pandemic begins to change trajectory soon, so we can begin returning to a more normal form of life.
Philip A. Glotzbach