Welcome to spring semester 2019
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community:
I am very happy to welcome you back for the spring semester after what I hope was a renewing and fulfilling break. For Skidmore, 2019 promises to be a year filled with excitement and new opportunities, as well as challenges, and I write to you to share some news of what lies ahead.
One of our resolutions at Skidmore remains strengthening the health and well-being of our community, and we are launching several major initiatives this semester to advance this goal of the Strategic Plan. Throughout our campus, you will see signage reminding us that all areas, including outdoors, are now smoke- and tobacco-free. Our community has expressed overwhelming support for making our campus into a more healthful place; let us also support one another in this process. Toward those ends, I invite our entire Skidmore community to learn about the new policy and available smoking cessation resources during a launch event scheduled for January 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Case Center.
Although the liberal arts values that we hold in esteem have faced challenges on many fronts in recent years, Skidmore remains steadfast in its commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive College community. In February and March, all members of our campus community are invited to participate in the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey. We hope that your participation in this comprehensive survey will provide needed information about where we are today, which will in turn help our Skidmore community to build practices that further support a climate of inclusion, and allow us to further address issues of discrimination and harassment. During the coming term, we also will undertake a number of initiatives in support of this objective — including some important faculty hires. As we endeavor to build an even broader, more inclusive campus community, we also recognize the importance of safety, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Accordingly, I draw your attention to Skidmore’s new Protection of Minors Policy, which will be made available in the coming days.
Throughout the fall term, Skidmore supported a series of talks exploring how colleges present diverse viewpoints while maintaining an inclusive learning environment. We are excited to continue the Skidmore Speaks series this spring with a talk on March 5 by Nadine Strossen, a New York Law School professor and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union. Additional details about this lunchtime event will be sent out soon.
Challenges remain, of course. Our continuing efforts to ensure that the best-qualified students are able to study at Skidmore, and other investments in Skidmore’s future, also carry financial costs. We are already taking steps to reduce discretionary expenses that we believe will strengthen Skidmore’s financial health. However, rising health care premiums and other costs are issues that we must address. I am confident that we can work together to meet the challenges ahead. We recognize that all members of our campus community play vital roles in fulfilling our educational mission. That’s why the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) — the central body for deliberation and recommendations on important all-College issues, which includes representatives from our staff, faculty, students and senior administration — will engage deeply in budget planning at an upcoming retreat in February.
Despite the challenges, we have grounds for optimism. Since I wrote in September, Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore has raised an additional $10 million in new gifts and pledges, for a total of $175.6 million toward its $200 million goal. These gifts support financial aid, the Tang Teaching Museum, Athletics, career development and experiential learning and, of course, the Center for Integrated Sciences, which is now taking shape. The faculty-staff component of the campaign is well underway. Forty-six percent of employees have made a gift, bringing the effort more than halfway toward its goal of 80 percent participation by the Campaign’s end. I am exceedingly grateful for this demonstration of generosity in this shared commitment to Skidmore’s future.
This semester is a particularly special one for more than 630 members of the Class of 2019, who are set to graduate in May and carry forward Skidmore’s creative mission in the world beyond our campus. We share in their excitement and look forward to that celebratory moment. Until then, welcome back, and best of luck in all your endeavors this semester.
Philip A. Glotzbach