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Skidmore College

Skidmore breaks ground for CIS

October 20, 2018

Center for Integrated Sciences at Skidmore College from Skidmore College on Vimeo.

Celebrating the groundbreaking for Skidmore College’s Center for Integrated Sciences, President Philip A. Glotzbach stressed science literacy as both an integral component of a liberal arts education and a civic responsibility.

Celebrations for the groundbreaking for the single largest academic initiative in Skidmore’s history included a keynote address by Neil Shubin, the noted paleontologist and author of “Your Inner Fish.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was part of Celebration Weekend, the College’s open house for students’ families. The weekend also featured art exhibitions, special concerts, athletic events and a dedication ceremony for Skidmore’s new Valentine Boathouse.

“The fate of the earth, as a biosphere capable of supporting human life as we know it, depends upon our increasing the overall level of scientific literacy among all voters,” Glotzbach said. “This is one reason why we have identified the Center for Integrated Sciences as our highest strategic priority.”

The 200,000-square-foot Center for Integrated Sciences will put 10 Skidmore science departments and programs under a single roof in order to foster dialogue between and among scientific disciplines, the humanities, arts and social sciences. The science facility will house 46 research labs, as well as the IdeaLab, a creative maker space for students and faculty. 

 “In building the Center for Integrated Sciences, we are constructing a place for 21st-century teaching and learning,” Glotzbach said. “Science is and always has been an integral component to liberal education.”

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Author Neil Shubin and Marta Brunner, College librarian, sign a beam at the CIS groundbreaking ceremony.

In his address, Shubin, known for discovering the 375-million-year-old Tiktaalik roseae fossil – a key link in the transition from fish to land animals – stressed the value of a liberal arts education. He noted that a Russian literature course his sophomore year of college had profoundly influenced his intellectual development.

“That course taught me critical thinking and the power of stories,” the associate dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago said. “The great questions of science do not know intellectual boundaries.”

Shubin also highlighted the importance of science for leaders of the future.

“We live in an age in which people speak of alternative facts, junk news and fake news,” he said. “Science has taught us a powerful concern for evidence … humility in the face of the unknown.”

The weekend also included a dedication ceremony for Skidmore’s new Valentine Boathouse, named for trustee Peg Valentine and Mike Valentine, parents of Martha, a 2009 Skidmore graduate.

The three-building complex includes a completely renovated main building and two new buildings. The new center building, known as the Team Building, has a team meeting and workout space with ergometers, a locker room and office space for coaches. The second new building is a sculling pavilion that houses single and double boats.

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Mike Valentine, trustee Peg Valentine and trustee Millie Tan '77.


The Center for Integrated Sciences is at the heart of Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore, an effort to raise $200 million by 2020 for Skidmore’s future. Creating Our Future also will increase funding for scholarships and financial aid, the Skidmore Fund, the Tang Teaching Museum, Athletics, and career development and transformative experiences for Skidmore students. 

A campus-campaign launch party Thursday kicked off the weekend festivities. 

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