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Skidmore College
Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Faculty Meeting

November 7, 2008
Gannett Auditorium


President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:38 p.m.


President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections to the October 3, 2008 Faculty Meeting minutes. Hearing none, he announced that the minutes were approved.


President Glotzbach advised that the Board of Trustees had a very successful meeting last week. Highlights of the meetings are as follows:

  • The new board chair is Janet Whitman, Class of ’59. Janet has been on the Board for many years and is succeeding Sue Thomas.
  • The Board discussed and affirmed the “2008-09 Strategic Action Agenda”, which is now available for review on the President’s web page. President Glotzbach encouraged everyone to read this year’s Strategic Action Agenda.
  • The Board gave tentative approval for improvements to Penfield Hall and the renovation of the Saisselin Art Building.
  • At a lunch meeting, the Board discussed shared governance, including the meaning of the concept and the role of the Board in shared governance.
  • A $12 million commitment was received from the Sussman family for the replacement of Scribner Village. Replacement of Scribner Village is a major strategic objective for the College; however, inasmuch as the total cost of the project is expected to exceed $30 million dollars, much more work will need to be done before the project can come to fruition. Thanks to the gift from the Sussman family, the campaign now has raised $176 million towards the $200 million goal.

President Glotzbach also addressed the current economic situation. While he had hoped that the markets would have stabilized by now, Skidmore’s endowment continues to be negatively affected. The cabinet, the IPPC, and the budget and finance subcommittee of IPPC have been meeting to discuss how best to respond to the economic situation. In looking closely at this year’s budget and developing scenarios for next year, we are asking all divisions to see what they can do to reduce their budgets for this year. If we can cut $500,000 to $600,000 from this year’s budget, it would be a substantial move towards addressing next year’s projected budget deficit. Depending upon the value of the endowment on December 31, it appears that we will probably need to cut an additional $5 to $8 million from next year’s budget.

President Glotzbach noted that, while we do have a surplus of funds from over-enrollment, we are dealing with a structural budget deficit and will need to find ways to address it. At the same time, we want to maintain the momentum in the progress we have made over the last few years: supporting academic programs, increasing financial aid, strengthening and diversifying the student body, enhancing compensation, and sustaining commitments not to increase the percent of cost sharing for health insurance. In order to maintain momentum in each of these areas, we will need to focus on our highest priority action items.

President Glotzbach reported that the annual Friends of the Presidents dinner was held this week. He advised that, given the current economic situation, this dinner was almost cancelled. But the dinner is considered an annual celebration of those who give at the highest level – representing over 94 percent of the charitable giving to the College last year – and it is important to meet with and thank these donors. President Glotzbach also announced that he met with the Council of 100 – a group of relatively young alumni from the 1970s and 1980s, who are eager to serve the College in the future. Both the Friends of the President and the Council of 100 are aware of the current economic situation and remain committed to Skidmore.

President Glotzbach also recognized the historic presidential election earlier this week, noting that 84.1 percent of Skidmore students who are registered to vote did vote; he indicated that he is very encouraged to see the engagement of the students in this process.

The following questions were raised in response to President Glotzbach’s report:

  • One faculty member asked whether the economic situation would have any implications for the Zankel project. President Glotzbach responded that the construction phase of the project is fully funded and is moving forward, although funds are still being raised to develop the endowment for the operating budget.
  • One faculty member asked what percentage of the operating budget comes from the endowment. President Glotzbach responded that, if you include the annual fund, it is 15 percent; endowment only is close to 10 percent.
  • One faculty member asked how the economic downturn might affect financial aid and admissions this year. President Glotzbach responded that at this point there has not been a large increase in students asking for changes in financial aid packages; however, we are seeing a decline in early-decision applications, which are tracking at about the level where they were two years ago. Mary Lou Bates noted that final early-decision applications two years ago were just over 400 for both rounds, with almost 500 last year. We have only about 80 early applications now, but the deadline for round one is November 15. President Glotzbach noted that it is too early to tell whether we are seeing a drop in early applications or whether applicants are waiting for the last minute.

President Glotzbach concluded by noting that he read an email the parent of an applicant sent to a trustee in which the parent expressed concern that, because Skidmore is relatively less endowed, our students’ academic experience might be affected. Clearly, the answer is that it will not. We are not curtailing academic programs, and we need to be committed to preserving the educational experience for students. For example, we hope to go ahead with faculty searches this year. Inasmuch as many other schools will not be hiring, this gives us the opportunity to hire some great faculty to strengthen the academic program. While we may have some tough times ahead, we are well positioned to face them, and we will overcome our challenges as we have in the past.


Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Kress echoed President Glotzbach’s remarks about challenges regarding the budget. She advised that she has already held meetings with her staff and that Dean Poston has held meetings with program directors and department chairs concerning the budget situation. In reducing budgets, we still need to focus on the three major priorities – sustaining the academic quality and excellence of students, the excellence of faculty, and the excellence of the academic program. VPAA Kress noted that we have some very tough work and difficult choices in the future; however, we want to maintain our progress in all of these areas.

VPAA Kress advised that she met with the Academic Affairs committee of the Board of Trustees. The new chair is Maxine Isaacs and the vice chair is Susan Beckerman; new members of the committee include Michele Dunkerley and Barbara Kahn Moller. VPAA Kress noted that the academic affairs action agenda items were discussed and encouraged everyone to read the strategic action agenda, and especially President Glotzbach’s thought-provoking preamble.

VPAA Kress indicated that the remainder of the Academic Affairs committee meeting was spent discussing assessment with invited guests from the Assessment Steering Committee: Sarah Goodwin (Faculty Assessment Coordinator), Ann Henderson, Erica Bastress-Dukehart, Beau Breslin, and Claire Solomon, the Student Government Association’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. Sarah explained to the Academic Affairs committee the history of assessment and the reasons for doing it, and then Claire led a discussion about what (ideally) Skidmore students should know and be able to do when they graduate. Assessment will be an ongoing topic of discussion, and the Board was very eager to be engaged. VPAA Kress thanked the Assessment Steering Committee for all the important work they are doing for Skidmore.

VPAA Kress also advised that she met with the Special Programs Committee of the Board as well. Elliott Masie is continuing as chair; Linda Jackson Chalmers is the new vice chair. New members include Barbara Kahn Moller, John Morris, and Billie Tisch. Interim Dean of Special Programs, Jeff Segrave, reported on the success of this summer’s special programs, the upward trajectory of MALS, and provided an update on the report being prepared by the UWW Working Group. Susan said she looked forward to receiving the report soon.

VPAA Kress announced that the 2008-09 Faculty Handbook is now available online and will be sent to the printer shortly.

VPAA Kress concluded by noting that these past two months have been difficult as the Dow has declined. However, as she read the sabbatical reports from the faculty for the last three years, she was inspired to learn what the faculty is doing both inside and outside the classroom. She noted that President Glotzbach’s speech to the Friends of the Presidents also highlighted the excellence of the faculty.

VPAA asked if there were any questions. One faculty member wondered if it would be economical and environmentally friendly not to print the Handbook for everyone. VPAA Kress noted that this issue was discussed with FEC, and it was decided that, because the faculty had not received an updated Handbook for several years, we would print copies for everyone. VPAA Kress indicated that the printing will be put on hold for a week in the event FEC wanted to make another recommendation concerning the printing.


A. Tim Harper, on behalf of the Curriculum Committee, read the following motion, which was introduced at last month’s faculty meeting (see attached):

MOTION: The Curriculum Committee moves to eliminate the Economics-Mathematics interdepartmental major.

The motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.

B. Dan Nathan, on behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), read the following motion, which was introduced at last month’s faculty meeting (see attached):

MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty approve the articulation agreement with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which would permit eligible Skidmore students to obtain dual Bachelor degrees in liberal arts and engineering.

Discussion was held concerning whether Chemistry students could enroll in this program and whether courses would need to be approved by the Curriculum Committee. Bill Standish indicated that the Engineering Advisory Committee had looked at the issue in depth before it was brought to the faculty. Dan noted that this articulation agreement is fundamentally the same as agreements already in place with Dartmouth and Clarkson. The motion was voted on and passed unanimously. Dan thanked Dean Muriel Poston, former Associate Dean Mark Hofmann, and the Engineering Advisory Committee for their work on this agreement.


Dan Nathan, on behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), introduced the following motion (see attached):

MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty terminate Skidmore’s current affiliation with the New York State Independent College Consortium for Study in India.

Dan Nathan noted that the College has approved a new two-year pilot program in Mysore, India. One faculty member asked when formal approval would be sought for the Mysore pilot program; Dan indicated that it would be after two years. Another question was raised concerning whether the termination of this affiliation would affect the Asian Studies major. Dan did not have a definitive answer but suggested that there are people involved in the Mysore pilot program that are also involved in the Asian Studies program, and they have signed off on the pilot program. Questions about the financial implications of the pilot program were raised; Professor Joel Smith explained, in the previous India program, only 4 or 5 Skidmore students could be accepted while with the Mysore program, 10 to 20 students could be accepted into the program. Another question was raised concerning the presence of Skidmore faculty in the Mysore program. Cori Filson advised that the hope is to have Skidmore faculty onsite setting up the administrative and academic structure and then have permanent staff in India doing work on the program. Skidmore will still have control on the academic program but no control over the faculty providing the program. This motion will lie over until the next faculty meeting.


A. Dan Nathan, on behalf of CEPP, announced the approval of a reciprocal exchange program with Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, which will permit eligible students the opportunity to attend Spelman for either a semester or an academic year and will permit students from Spelman to attend Skidmore.

B. Dan Nathan, on behalf of CEPP, announced the renewal of an articulation agreement with Schenectady County Community College (SCCC). The agreement has been in effect since 2004 and, since that time, three former SCCC students who enrolled at Skidmore have all graduated with honors. CEPP believes the articulation agreement is a success and should be continued; further, CEPP believes Skidmore should consider agreements with other community colleges.

C. Dan Nathan, on behalf of CEPP, announced the 2-year pilot program in Mysore, India, noted earlier. Connecticut College has already developed this program with India. Joel Smith has been onsite in India and was impressed.


A. President Glotzbach announced that a holiday open house will be held at Scribner House—but for one day only this year. The open house will be connected with Skidmore Cares and will provide an opportunity to collect canned goods and used children’s books for those in need. Email invitations will be sent to the Skidmore community in the near future.

B. Terence Diggory provided an update on the Center Study Group (the “CSG”). On October 24, the CSG conducted a series of focus groups and he thanked the participating faculty. About 40 faculty members participated; the CSG learned a lot and is in the process of reviewing feedback. On behalf of the CSG, Terry invited everyone to an open forum to be held on Friday, November 21, 2008 which will be a continuation of the issues discussed in the focus groups. An email reminder will be sent out shortly.


Justin Sipher, Chief Technology Officer, invited everyone to the second floor balcony of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall for the faculty reception.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:27 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant