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


March 4, 2011
Gannett Auditorium


Acting President Susan Kress called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.


Acting President Susan Kress asked if there were any corrections or comments to the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held February 4, 2011. Hearing none, she announced the minutes were approved.


Acting President Susan Kress reported on the recent Board of Trustees meeting:

  • The Board of Trustees was on campus February 23-25, 2011; the Alumni Board met over the weekend.
  • Many of the board members attended the Moseley lecture given by Professor Alice Dean on February 23, 2011; the lecture was received warmly and enthusiastically.
  • The Board received the update for financial year 2012 and gave preliminary approval of the major budget parameters: 
    • As of 1/31/11, the endowment stands at $286.7 million; we are still not up to our high of almost $300 million in 2007 but we have made up much of the ground we lost in the downturn. 
    • The authorized NFE (net fiscal enrollment) for students is targeted at 2,280. Admissions will be looking for an incoming class range of 580-630. While we are slowly moving toward a smaller size, we are still anticipating overenrollment of approximately 135 students next year.
    • Our comprehensive fee increase for next year will be 2.9 percent. Our record-low increase in the comprehensive fee last year of 1.9 percent moved us from 14 to 48 on the list of most expensive colleges and we are hoping this year’s moderate increase will keep our ranking low.
    • Our discount rate for next year will remain at 35 percent.
    • We anticipate a 2 percent GSA with a market and equity pool of $600,000.
    • We anticipate transferring $7.9 million to the capital budget.
    • Our spending rate from the endowment will be 5.1 percent.
  • The Board approved the plan for the integration of Information Technology into the Library space and the necessary renovations to the Library; they also approved a release of funds for the first phase of the project not to exceed $2.5 million.
  • The Board approved the release of funds for the annual deployment of computers not to exceed $400,000. 
  • With regard to the Scribner Project, both Phases 1A and 1B are underway; the project is on schedule with a targeted completion date of January, 2012 for Phase 1A and August, 2012 for Phase 1B.
  • We received an anonymous gift to the college of 200 acres of land in the Town of Greenfield; this land will present all kinds of opportunities for recreation and research.
  • The Board continued its discussions on the optimal size of the student body and were updated on IPPC’s work on this topic; the conversation is about the relationships among educational experience for students and faculty, co-curricular experiences, facilities experiences, and the revenue that we need from tuition in order to fulfill our ambitions.
  • The Board received a lunch presentation on the science vision and the next steps for science planning.
  • There was also a separate session on the Transition and Transformation project; this project grew from the town hall meetings conducted by President Glotzbach last year. The presentation the Board heard was from Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs, Corey Freeman-Gallant, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Academic Advising, and Michael Casey, Vice President for Advancement, and focused on the collaborations that will be required across the college in order to prepare students for the transition from college to life after college. Student Affairs (staff from Health Promotions, Health Services and the Counseling Center) also made an interesting presentation focused on Student Health and Wellness that looked at the journey of 20 first-year students and their experiences.
  • The Board was also provided with an update on Creative Thought Matters 2.0; we are currently working with some consultants to take us to the next stage.
  • The Board also spent quite a bit of time discussing the matter that is urgently occupying us on campus -- that is the matter of a more inclusive and welcoming campus.
  • The Board had an opportunity to dine with students who have done collaborative research and those who benefitted from the SGA Responsible Citizenship internship grants. This presentation was co-hosted by Associate Professor Bob Turner and Alex Stark, SGA President.
  • In addition, the Board met with the first year students who had spent their first semester in the London program.

Acting President Kress reminded everyone that Commencement is scheduled for May 21, 2011. This year’s honorary degree recipients are Colin E. Greene, a 2001 graduate of the University Without Walls Program, principal of the largest secondary school in Antigua, member of the Board of Education International, and leader for equitable access to quality education in developing countries; James M. McPherson, the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of American History Emeritus at Princeton University, author of several prize-winning books; and Anne Bogart, American theater director, co-founder and artistic director of the SITI Company, winner of several awards including two Best Director Obie Awards and a Bessie Award for Choreographer/Creator.

Acting President Kress addressed the work being undertaken to create a more inclusive campus:

  • Alex Stark, SGA President, thanked the faculty for their support of these difficult conversations. She reported that SGA initiated a student-only campus climate dialogue and worked very closely with IGR facilitators and peer mediators to try to provide dialogue space for students so that they could have a safe space to talk about their experiences. About 150 students attended the first meeting, which was very emotionally charged. It may have been the first time many students heard some of the personal stories from their peers and realized that not everyone feels welcome on campus. SGA is now working to address that and is planning another climate dialogue to be held March 11 as well as a post-secret project where a student would write down their story anonymously on paper which would then be displayed in a gallery setting. Alex encouraged everyone to please submit any suggestions to the SGA.
  • With respect to the teach-in led by Associate Professor Winston Grady-Willis, in his absence, Associate Professor Mason Stokes advised that the teach-in was a wonderful event; it was well attended and generated a lot of student interest.
  • With respect to the community meeting that was held, Acting President Kress reported that the meeting was scheduled to end at 4:30; however, several students indicated a desire to stay and continue the conversation. After the official close of the meeting, approximately 80 people chose to stay; a number of people spoke at that point and those testimonies were very powerful, and some painful to hear, as our students were describing some of their experiences in class, in co-curricular situations, and in Saratoga Springs.
  • At the cabinet level, Acting President Kress reported we are reaching out to community leaders who represent the political, economic, social, religious, and educational life of the town; the first of these meetings will take place off campus in the Chamber of Commerce. Cabinet will also be interviewing consultants to help us work with different constituencies on campus and help us understand best practices at other institutions. There is also a Chamber of Commerce breakfast being held in April which will consist of a panel of students and faculty. Acting President Kress is very hopeful that these events will help to raise our awareness of what still needs to be done.

Vice President for Advancement. Michael Casey, Vice President for Advancement, reported that, while we are not in a campaign, we are still receiving gifts. Just in the last few weeks, we have received close to $2 million in gifts, including a commitment of $750,000 to begin the renovation of the boat house and almost $750,000 from the Estate of Henry Gallant, most of which will go towards a scholarship and to the library. In addition, we received a wonderful grant from Arthur Vining Davis as well as from the George Alden Trust to help with the move of IT into the library.

Vice President Casey noted that the College is almost $6.5 million up this year in total gifts. Considering we are out of a campaign right now, it is a wonderful result and we are already past our goal. He also reported that we have another challenge grant this year; if we receive 12,500 gifts (any purpose and any amount), we will receive another $1 million. He encouraged everyone to contribute to this challenge.

Acting President Kress thanked Vice President Casey and the rest of the Advancement team, as well as Barry Pritzker, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, for all their terrific work. She also thanked all those faculty and staff members who had worked very hard to collaborate in these grant applications to foundations.

Cabinet Q&A. Acting President Kress opened the floor for questions directed to the Cabinet:

  • A question was raised as to how the $600,000 in equity market pool compared to recent years. It was noted that last year, the equity market pool was zero, and the year before that was about $600,000. 
  • A question was raised with regard to a comparison of the compensation structure at other schools. It is anticipated that another comparison will be received this spring and that information will be presented at a later date. Acting President Kress reminded everyone of the work that was undertaken several years ago when we did our last optimization study, and much progress was made with regard to compensation; however, that work was not completed for staff and administrative professionals and it is hoped that we can address some of that with respect to the equity and market adjustments. 
  • Discussion was held with regard to the optimization conversation, with a concern expressed that we were already too large. Acting President Kress noted that the optimization conversation is about our optimal size; it is not about advocating for a larger size.
  • Upon questioning about the possibility of over-enrollment this coming academic year, Acting President Kress noted that while we are aiming at an incoming class size between 580 and 630, we will still be overenrolled with regard to total campus enrollment.
  • Inquiry was made as to whether there have been any systematic attempts to study the effects of the overenrollment for the current year. Acting President Kress noted that there have not been any systematic attempts but that there is some anecdotal evidence: we are experiencing squeeze in terms of registration for certain courses, some staffing issues in counseling and health services and at times the dining hall seems crowded. 
  • Inquiry was made with regard to the retention rate for the current freshman class resulting from the overenrollment. It was noted that the retention rates were substantially the same as in prior years; there were no first year students disqualified for academic performance.
  • A question was raised as to how much a student in a triple would be compensated. Vice President West indicated it was a combination of direct money back and meal compensation. Acting President Kress noted that Cabinet is not aware of many complaints about the triples, and some students have chosen to remain in a triple when given the opportunity to de-triple.

Acting President Kress concluded her report by encouraging anyone who had any further questions to please forward them to her.


Muriel Poston, Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs, reported on the Academic Affairs portion of the Board meeting:

  • The full Board of Trustees had a presentation on the science vision, which was endorsed by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees at their October meeting. The discussion included a panel of faculty colleagues – Professor Mark Hofmann, as moderator, Associate Professor Kyle Nichols, Associate Professor Kim Frederick and Associate Professor Mary Crone Odekon – and provided an opportunity to look at the goals of the science vision and how these goals might be realized moving forward. The board asked challenging and pointed questions about the vision, particularly whether it was appropriate for Skidmore. The full Board of Trustees also received a presentation from Art Lidsy,Dober Lidsky Mathey, a program planning firm that helped project the kind of infrastructure that would support the science vision. This presentation also included information on our current infrastructure in the sciences. The science discussion will continue with the board over the next year or so as we begin think about what we can and what we must do.
  • The activities in the Academic Affairs Committee included the personnel actions, a discussion of the composition of the faculty (the proportions between tenure-track faculty and contingent faculty, the demographics of the faculty particularly with respect to faculty of color and gender, the distribution of faculty across the liberal arts curriculum, and how do we anticipate changes in the composition of the faculty as we recruit faculty over the next few years).
  • In the Special Programs Committee, they approved the UWW and MALS degrees that were approved by the faculty and also undertook a review of the activities and programs that are part of the Special Programs’ portfolio and how these align with the strategic priorities of the college.

Dean of the Faculty. Acting Dean of the Faculty Paty Rubio reported that, at its meeting on February 25, 2011, the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the requested sabbaticals for 2011-12 (see attached for details) and granted tenure effective March 1, 2011 and promotion effective June 1, 2011 to Monica Das, Economics; Hassan Lopez, Psychology; Tillman Nechtman, History; Joshua Ness, Biology; and TH Reynolds, Health and Exercise Sciences. A congratulatory round of applause was given.

Dean Rubio reported that tenure-track searches are currently being conducted in Art, Art History with Asian Studies, Computer Sciences, English with Gender Studies, Government with International Affairs, Management and Business, Physics with Geosciences, Psychology and Theater. Most searches are progressing and are at various stages of the process. She thanked the chairs and the departments for all their hard work.

Dean Rubio discussed the initiatives being undertaken by Academic Affairs and the Dean of the Faculty with regard to campus climate issues: new faculty learning community, faculty interest groups, intergroup relations program and conversations with chairs and program directors.

Faculty Development Committee. Associate Professor Peter Stake, Chair of the Faculty Development Committee, announced that the recipient of the Edwin M. Moseley award for 2012 is Professor Catherine J. Golden. A congratulatory round of applause was given to Professor Golden. In addition, Professor Stake announced that Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart has been chosen by the Class of 2011 as the faculty speaker at Commencement. A round of applause was given to Professor Bastress-Dukehart.


On behalf of the Curriculum Committee, Associate Professor Lisa Aronson read the following motion that was introduced at the February 4, 2011 meeting (see attached):

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

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


On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Professor Reg Lilly introduced the following motion (see attached):

MOTION: The Faculty Executive Committee moves to change the membership of the Faculty Executive Committee and its function in the following way:

“Membership: Six members of the Faculty elected to serve three year terms, together with the three elected faculty members of the IPPC.

As the last paragraph describing the function of the Faculty Executive Committee, add the following:

“The Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee and the faculty Vice-Chair of the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee shall meet regularly throughout the academic year so that each committee can be apprised of the other committee’s work.”

There was no discussion, and the Motion will lie over until the next meeting.

On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Professor Reg Lilly introduced the following motion (see attached):

MOTION: The Faculty Executive Committee moves to reduce the membership of the Faculty Executive Committee from six elected members to five.

There was no discussion, and the Motion will lie over until the next meeting.


Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart, Faculty Network Facilitator, discussed the events being sponsored by the Faculty Network:

  • The Sport and Society Interest Group hosted a talk by Olympic Gold Medalist and Title IX Legal Expert, Nancy Hogshead-Makar.
  • The Haiti Skidmore Connection Interest Group was in Haiti over Winter break to support relief to Haitian citizens; the group already presented highlights of their trip to the Skidmore community and are continuing to work on long-term connections with their colleagues.
  • Associate Professor Michael Arnush and Professor Bastress-Dukehart created a new interest group around the new and controversial book, Academically Adrift, Limited Learning on College Campuses; anyone interested can join the group after spring break to talk about a chapter of the book and what it might mean for Skidmore and for the liberal arts writ large. 
  • Visiting Assistant Professor Debbie Warnock and Professor Sarah Goodwin, following the recent community meeting, have proposed a white faculty interest group to discuss steps that white faculty can take to create a more inclusive community for everyone on campus; the first meeting will be held on March 24 in the Weller Room.
  • Associate Professor Kim Frederick, Chemistry, will present Where is Science Education Heading on March 25 in the Weller Room.
  • Associate Professor Bastress-Dukehart reminded everyone that the Faculty Network does have funds available for ideas, opportunities, and conferences and encouraged everyone to take advantage of what the network has to offer.


Associate Professor Bob Turner reported that the CEPP-CAPT subcommittee has consulted with Professor Kate Berheide and Joe Stankovich, Director of Institutional Research, and has created a draft alternative student rating system. After spring break, the CEPP-CAPT subcommittee will be sending invitations to meet in small groups to obtain feedback and then will explore a potential pilot rating project. In addition, chairs and program directors will be invited to a workshop on evaluative teaching conducted by Joey Sprague on Friday, April 8, 2011.


  • On behalf of Honors Forum, Professor David Vella announced that Academic Festival will be held on May 4, 2011. Students will be submitting proposals online and may be asking for a faculty sponsor. As the Academic Festival should be showcasing our students’ best work, the expertise of a faculty sponsor is relied upon to ensure that only the very best work is submitted.\
  • On behalf of the SUN Network, Professor Mary Ann Foley reminded everyone about the professional development opportunities available for female faculty members in the STEM fields (see Skidmore/Union Network Grant Opportunities for additional information). Any questions concerning these opportunities can be directed to Professor Kate Berheide or Professor Mary Ann Foley.
  • On behalf of Athletics Council, Associate Professor Paul Arciero announced the men’s basketball team made it into the NCAA tournament for the first time in the college’s history.
  • On behalf of Rochelle Calhoun, Dean of Student Affairs, Mike West, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, invited everyone to a reception in the Murray Aikins dining hall immediately preceding the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:48 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant