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


November 6, 2009
Gannett Auditorium


President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.


President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections or comments to the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held October 2, 2009. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.


President Glotzbach reported that the Board of Trustees meeting held last week went well. The Trustees received updates from various areas of the College and did a Town Hall Meeting exercise of their own. There were no major budget parameter changes to announce to them, but we were able to report improved performance in the endowment, which has moved from a low of about $220 million to about $260 million. However, the improved performance has also been offset by continuing losses in revenue in certain other areas, such as short-term investments.

We will need to look very hard at our comprehensive fee to keep future increases to a minimum. This is challenging, as every percent we take off our increase in the comprehensive fee represents a $1 million decrease in income. Moody’s Rating Service released a survey conducted of 100 of the top 286 private colleges and universities that they assess for bond ratings in which 29 percent of schools responding projected a decline in net tuition revenue (as opposed to 9 percent from the prior year). Reasons for a decline in net tuition revenues include smaller increase in comprehensive fee, increased financial aid, and failure to meet class targets. While Skidmore did not experience a decline in net tuition revenue, the difference in growth from the prior year was only 1.1 percent. Moody’s commented on their findings by noting that these were the first concrete data to show the impact of the recession on tuition pricing; however, they were uncertain as to whether the data represented a one-year change or a trend.

At the moment, we are projecting an increase of 1.6 percent in total expenditures for the next fiscal year (FY 2011). We plan to have eliminated $5 million from previous projections in the operating budget through budget reductions; we also will have avoided another $5 million in previously projected cost increases. At present, we are still looking to finalize another $3.25 million in savings by cost containment, by not filling open positions, and by a likely reduction in force. We have completed the first phase of the early retirement incentive program (ERIP); the response to that program has been very positive – more employees applied than anticipated. As a result, we accepted more applications than we initially thought we would be able to do. Employees who have been accepted into the ERIP have been notified, but at this point we don’t know how many will actually participate in the ERIP. It is likely that the cost of the ERIP will increase from what we initially projected; however, these funds will come out of reserves, not from the operating budget. The ERIP will help us achieve some of the reductions we are looking for, but we will still need to identify additional reductions in continuing expenses by eliminating some work and, with it, positions.

Everyone has been asked to read the preamble to the 2009-10 “Strategic Action Agenda”; the preamble, however, can be summarized as follows: All of higher education is facing a great challenge. But small, private, expensive liberal arts colleges are undergoing more scrutiny than ever, along with an increased likelihood of losing prospective students due to issues of price. All this leads to the likelihood of strongly increased competition for students in the coming years, resulting in intense pressures to control costs and demonstrate that we are providing value commensurate with our cost.

To better understand the position we are in, President Glotzbach showed a PowerPoint presentation which included the following information:

  • Progress in AQR ratings: in 2003, 39 percent of applicants, 65 percent of accepted candidates and 46 percent of the entering class fell into the top three AQR bands; in 2008, 52 percent of applicants, 85 percent of accepted candidates and 69 percent of the entering class fell into the top three AQR bands.
  • Increasing diversity within the student body: The overall percentage of students of color has been increasing, with more than 20 percent of entering classes in the past few years being students of color.
  • The financial aid budget has continued to grow at an increased rate and will continue to grow for fiscal year 2011; however, increases to the financial aid budget cannot continue in the future at the rates we have recently experienced without additional resources.
  • The greatest source of our revenue remains our comprehensive fee; since 2001, the rate of increase has tracked consistently with other schools in our category.
  • In a nationwide poll conducted by Zogby International in August, 2009, of 41,000 adults, one-third described themselves as being seriously affected by the recession, and 14 percent said their households have been “devastated.” Adults in lower income households experienced a greater impact from this recession and are less optimistic about recovery. As part of the same survey, when asked “Is Higher Education Worth the Price?” 63 percent of respondents with a college degree said “yes” while 37 percent said “no”; of those responding with no college degree, 56 percent said “no” and 44 percent said “yes.”
  • Since 1952, the average U.S. household net worth has risen at a steady rate of progression; even after declines resulting from the burst of the bubble in the 1980s and the more recent credit bubble, we seem to be back on track with the earlier trajectory.
  • From 1982 to the present, the consumer price index has increased 105 percent; the higher education price index has increased 161 percent; health care has increased 251 percent; and college tuition and fees 439 percent. (During this time period, Skidmore’s tuition and fees have increased 366 percent, which averages 6.2 percent per year.) However, the 439 percent increase includes both private and public colleges, and public colleges have been increasing their rates more rapidly than private colleges.
  • In a partial compilation of the most recent College Board report on the cost of colleges and universities, of the top 50 most expensive, Skidmore comes in at 14th. However, the difference in price from the second to the 50th most expensive school is $2,400; in some instances, the difference in price is as low as $1. In Skidmore’s comparison group, Skidmore is the 4th most expensive school. Again, the differences among these colleges in the comprehensive fee are very small.
  • The competition for students who can pay full price is very tough and is likely to increase in the coming years. Of the 4,350,000 18-year olds in the country in 2009, 3,263,000 will graduate from high school. Of those, 2,023,000 will attend any college, with 1,234,000 attending a 4-year institution. Of those students, 223,691 have an SAT score of 1,250 or an ACT score of 28 or higher. Of those students, 17,895 have a family income of $200,000 or more. Of those students, 7,874 intend to attend a private college or university, with 2,165 intending to attend a school with a class size under 800. Of those students, 996 are located in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast region.

Again, the conclusion is clear: In order to compete for the best students, we must hold our cost increases to a minimum while at the same time increasing the value of a Skidmore education and making the case effectively, to an increasingly skeptical public, that we do offer superior educational value. The key both to making this case externally and to continuing to improve what we do is effective assessment.

In response to a question about strategies to recruit full-paying international students, President Glotzbach noted that it is difficult to attract full paying international students because they are oriented toward universities and they are unfamiliar with the concept of a liberal arts education; however, he also noted that the international recruiting arena is changing in our favor. He encouraged anyone who may have a contact in the international world or who is attending an international event to collaborate with Admissions.

In response to a question concerning the projected increases in financial aid, President Glotzbach noted that this projected trajectory will be evaluated on a year-to-year basis. The only long-term solution is to increase the size of the endowment.

In response to a question about reducing our comprehensive fee, President Glotzbach noted that this scenario is being modeled; however, reducing the comprehensive fee creates an even larger deficit than we already have insofar as every 1 percent taken off the comprehensive fee represents a $1 million loss in revenue.

In response to a question concerning the net cost of higher education, President Glotzbach acknowledged that the net cost is also a very important figure and would most likely show a shallower increase. One of the problems, however, is public perception, and people are looking at the high published numbers. At Skidmore, the average tuition aid package is over $35,000 and the average net cost after grants of a Skidmore education is $18,000-$19,000 per year.

President Glotzbach concluded by encouraging everyone to participate in the on-campus Town Hall Meetings that will be held next week. These meetings are designed to get people engaged in thinking about the tough choices we will be facing in the future and in exploring new ideas.


Dean of the Faculty Report – Muriel Poston

  • Since September, the science faculty has been finalizing the development of a vision statement. As they move through the process of examining a 21st century science education in a liberal arts college, they will be asking for feedback regarding the following: 1) student learning outcomes associated with the goals for this vision; 2) scientific literacy for all students; 3) a science curriculum that reflects the collaborative nature of modern science, the importance of strong interdisciplinary programs and the interdisciplinarity that emerges from the intersection of interesting questions; and 4) Skidmore’s unique ability to facilitate the integration of the sciences with the breadth of a liberal arts program.
  • The targeted reduction for the Dean of the Faculty’s budget for fiscal year 2011 is $500,000, and this is in addition to the 3 percent reduction in services and supplies for each department. These reductions will come from limiting the number of tenure-track searches, thus seeking the differential between a tenure-track hire and a contingent hire potentially on a multi-year contract; reducing the overall number of contingent hires; reducing ad hoc travel to read and to represent funds; and potential savings from the ERIP program. We are also undertaking an analysis of work that can be done more efficiently to avoid in some cases the replacement of personnel.
  • The Curriculum Committee and CEPP have recommended a modest increase in the lower level of the enrollment cap ranges. The joint Enrollment Cap Subcommittee recommends the following ranges: 35-38 students at the 100-level, 29-33 students at the 200-level, and 19-23 at the 300-level. This recommendation will not affect courses that have certain constraints (e.g., studio, labs, senior capstone seminar) and EN 105 and Scribner Seminars (although caps for the latter two were raised minimally this year).
  • The H1N1 virus has been having an impact on the academic program, and the College has seen a marked increase in students who have experienced influenza-like illnesses and who have become seriously ill; just in this week, 12 medical leaves were initiated, 4 of which were requested by first-year students. Several of these students have underlying mental, emotional and/or physical conditions, which compounds their flu exposure. Continued flexibility with regard to attendance policies is encouraged as we will undoubtedly continue to see an increase in the impact of the flu. The Committee on Academic Standing will be taking up cases on an ad hoc basis.

Dean of Special Programs – Jeff Segrave

  • The Office of the Dean of Special Programs has been restructured effective November 2, 2009, a move proposed by the Special Programs Study Group in 2007, recommended by an independent audit in 2008, and supported in the final report of the UWW Working Group in Summer, 2008. This reorganization ensures the internal integration of the Office of Dean of Special Programs and at the same time enhances the integration of Special Programs with the rest of the college. The reasons for the reorganization are to ensure compliance, to enhance efficiency, and to assure the alignment of Special Programs with other offices across the campus.
  • This reorganization positions Special Programs in strategic ways to better fulfill its mission of enhancing and enriching the intellectual and cultural life on campus and in the community through innovative and collaborative programs that augment the reputation of the college and enhance its resources.
  • The staff in Special Programs have been assigned new positions and many have been relocated. Ladd Hall houses the leadership of MALS and UWW as well as the functional staff of Special Programs. Dean Segrave and the other directors of Special Programs are still located in Palamountain Hall.
  • The reorganization has been a long, difficult and complex process carried out in collaboration with President’s Cabinet, the VPAA Senior Staff, Human Resources, and most importantly, with the hard work and good will in very trying times of the staff in Special Programs. Dean Segrave thanked Barbara Beck in Human Resources for her work in helping to implement and organize the restructuring.
  • For those who routinely interact with Special Programs, please bear with the staff as they acclimate to their new assignments and locations. A new directory will be published shortly listing office staff and contact information; in the interim, please feel free to contact Dean Segrave’s office with any questions.
  • As part of the reorganization, there have been three new appointments: Michelle Paquette has been appointed Associate Director of Academic Programs; Wendy LeBlanc has been appointed Director of Operations; and Deborah Meyers has been appointed Director of the University Without Walls program (she is no longer interim). Dean Segrave asked that everyone join him in congratulating Michelle, Wendy and Deborah on their new appointments.


Curriculum Committee

Professor Tim Harper, on behalf of the Curriculum Committee, read the following motion that was introduced at the Faculty Meeting held October 2, 2009 (see attached):

MOTION: The Curriculum Committee moves to eliminate the Government-Sociology interdepartmental major.

There was no discussion, and the motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.

Faculty Executive Committee

Professor Dan Hurwitz, on behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, read the following motions that were introduced at the Faculty Meeting held October 2, 2009 (see attached):

A. The Faculty Executive Committee moves that the following changes be made in the 2009-2010 Faculty Handbook:

1. In Membership of Curriculum Committee (Handbook, Part Two, [F][II], 5. “Curriculum Committee”), change membership from “the Associate Dean of the Faculty” to “the Dean of the Faculty or his/her designated representative.”

2. Under Reappointment: Second Year (Handbook, Part One, VIII, [A][1]), insert the following as a new “c”: “Candidates for reappointment shall have access to all written materials immediately following notification of the Dean of the Faculty’s decision. While candidates may take notes, materials may not be copied by any means nor electronically downloaded or transmitted.” “Reviews” will then become “d”.


While the Handbook states that a candidate denied reappointment may seek review on the grounds of violations of academic freedom and rights, procedural problems, or “inadequate consideration,” there is no current provision for the candidate to have access to the materials sent to the dean by the department. The language is identical to that already included in the procedures for third-year reappointment.

For consistency, Part One, VIII [A][2][h] and Part One, IX [E][9] will also require changes in language as follows:

“While candidates may take notes, materials may not be copied by any means nor electronically downloaded or transmitted.” should be substituted for “These materials may not be photocopied.”

For consistency, Part One, IX [G][2] will also require the following change:

“The advocate, in the presence of the candidate, has the right of access to the materials which the CAPT had in its original deliberations; the advocate and the candidate may take notes but may not copy by any means nor electronically download or transmit these materials.” should be substituted for “The advocate, in the presence of the candidate, has the right of access but may not photocopy the materials which the CAPT had in its original deliberations.”

3. Under “Promotion” (Handbook, Part One, XI, [A][1][j]), replace the last sentence (“Finally, the President and the CAPT report their recommendations to the Board of Trustees”) with “Finally the President’s recommendations are reported to the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) of the Board of Trustees, and the CAPT informs the AAC of the recommendations it made to the President.”

Rationale: This language needs to be brought in line with the language for tenure (Handbook, Part One, IX, [E][6]).

After discussion questioning the lack of rationale for item #1 of the Handbook Motion, a motion was made and seconded to vote separately on item #1 of the Motion. Discussion ensued concerning the rationale for changing the membership of the Curriculum Committee. It was noted that the formula “[officer] or his or her designated representative” occurred frequently in our descriptions of committee membership and provided increased flexibility. A concern was raised that untenured faculty members on the Curriculum Committee might be intimidated if the Dean of the Faculty sits on the committee; however, it was also noted that senior academic administrators are members of CEPP and other committees as well. After the conclusion of discussion, the motion to remove section #1 from the original motion was voted on by voice; the President asked if anyone wished to call for a rising vote; he then called for another voice vote, and the motion was defeated. Thereafter, the entire motion to approve the changes to the Faculty Handbook was voted on and passed.

B. The Faculty Executive Committee then moved that the 2009-2010 Faculty Handbook be adopted. There was no discussion, and the motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.

Professor Hurwitz also announced that two resolutions and one motion will be presented at the next faculty meeting concerning committee membership and governance.


Committee on Educational Policies and Planning

On behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), Professor Terence Diggory moved that the meeting form a Committee of the Whole to discuss the Goals for Student Learning that were distributed prior to the meeting (see attached Learning Goals). Professor Hurwitz was appointed the chair of the Committee of the Whole; a 20-minute time limit was set with a 10-minute extension at the discretion of Professor Hurwitz. At the conclusion of the meeting of the Committee of the Whole, Professor Diggory, on behalf of the Committee on Education Policies and Procedures, introduced the following motion (see attached):

MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty endorse the “Goals for Student Learning and Development.”

This motion will lie over until the next faculty meeting.

Professor Rik Scarce, on behalf of the CEPP, introduced the following motion (see attached):

MOTION: CEPP moves that the faculty endorse the expansion of the Skidmore in London Program and formalize the current on-site support personnel structure.

Some discussion was held concerning any associated costs to Skidmore. The full report on the expanded program can be found on the CEPP website. This motion will lie over until the next faculty meeting.

Professor Scarce, on behalf of the CEPP, announced that the Department of Exercise Science will now be known as the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences.

Faculty Development Committee

Professor Monica Raveret-Richter, on behalf of the Faculty Development Committee (FDC), announced proposed changes to the Summer Faculty/Student Research Program with regard to structure and compensation (see attached Proposal for complete details). Discussion was held concerning whether the 5-week program should start in the first half or the second half of summer term – or whether there should be two 5-week summer sessions – as well as concerning compensation for professors who receive outside funding for summer research programs. Professor Raveret-Richter indicated that FDC is open to further comments on this proposal.


  • On behalf of the Athletic Council, Professor Paul Arciero announced that both the women’s soccer team and field hockey team have advanced to championship games. As a result, these teams may be eligible for post-season play. These are tremendous accomplishments for these teams; not only are they playing well on the field but the students on both teams have a collective GPA of 3.4 or higher. However, this success comes with added responsibilities which may conflict with academic commitments. The students involved should be discussing any conflicts with the faculty to ensure they meet their academic commitments. If there are any issues on an individual basis, the faculty should contact Professor Kate Berheide or Gail Cummings-Danson, Director of Athletics. Professor Arciero concluded by asking the faculty to join in celebrating the success of both these teams.
  • On behalf of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs, Dean Segrave invited the faculty to the post-faculty meeting reception immediately following in Murray Aikins banquet room. In response to numerous requests from faculty members, a cash bar will be available. The cash bar, an Academic Affairs initiative, will be run on a trial basis for the November and December receptions and will, thereafter, be assessed for cost and participation.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:22 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant