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Skidmore College

Glotzbach to join education, business, government leaders at White House summit

January 15, 2014
President Philip A. Glotzbach at White House
President Philip A. Glotzbach

Joining other college presidents and leaders in business, government and philanthropy, Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach will attend a full-day meeting being hosted at the White House Thursday, Jan. 16, to explore how to increase opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students by scaling up the nation’s most successful approaches.

President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will participate, along with other senior officials. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. and will be livestreamed here.

Skidmore’s Opportunity Program—which traces its roots back to 1969—is regarded as a national model, being among the first programs to place equal emphasis both on increasing access and ensuring academic success through a rigorous pre-freshman experience and a comprehensive advising program. Enrolling 40 low-income students per class—for a total of 160 over all four classes—the College achieves graduation rates between 88 and 100 percent for these students, typically exceeding the 86 percent graduation rate for Skidmore students generally.

In recent years, the College has expanded this effort by taking steps to ensure that low-income students can take advantage of the full range of academic experiences that Skidmore offers and establishing trajectories that launch them into successful careers or top graduate schools upon earning their degrees. For example, Skidmore changed its policies to ensure that financial aid awarded to low-income students can be used to fund study abroad. The College also found a way to establish a new category of grants that help students link academic interests with post-graduate goals by way of an applied summer experience. Funded at $4000 each, these 20 “SEE-Beyond” awards are sufficiently generous to appeal to low-income students who otherwise might feel obligated to take summer jobs that have no connection to their academic studies or career aspirations.

“Our goal is to offer within three to five years a SEE-Beyond experience to every low-income student who would benefit from one,” said Glotzbach. “That will require our doubling from 20 to 40 the number of SEE-Beyond stipends awarded.”  
As part of its current 10-year strategic plan, Skidmore has more than doubled its financial aid budget, which now exceeds $39 million annually and provides support to more than 1,000 students. That investment has enabled the College to increase the percentage of Pell-eligible students attending Skidmore from 15 percent to 17 percent.

It also has ensured that Skidmore students could graduate with manageable debt. Average indebtedness for all Skidmore students who borrowed and graduated in 2012 was $22,753. That compares in the same year to average indebtedness of $25,737 for New York public and private colleges and universities and $27,850 for public and private colleges and universities nationally.

“Higher education has long been an engine of both economic advancement and social mobility in our country,” Glotzbach noted. “At Skidmore, we contribute actively to this effort through our generous provision of need-based financial aid and strong programs for academic support and mentorship. The seriousness of our commitment is reflected by the diversity of our student body and our retention and graduation rates.”

He added, “I look forward to participating in the conversation at the White House to discuss how the federal government might best partner with the higher education community to advance this important agenda.”

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