Dr. Philip A. Glotzbach
President of Skidmore College
Philip A. Glotzbach became the seventh President of Skidmore College on July 1, 2003. A philosopher, academic administrator, and spokesperson on issues of higher education, he joined the College following eleven years at the University of Redlands in southern California
To the Skidmore community:
I want to thank every one of you who stepped up to be helpful after the terrible tragedy that resulted in the death of Michael Hedges and serious injuries to Toby Freeman, and Oban Galbraith. I am relieved to report to you that both Toby and Oban are healing very well and expected to make a full recovery.
To lose such a promising young man as Michael, and to see his friends so hurt, would have been incomprehensible just one short week ago. And yet, by coming together as a community, we have somehow managed to comprehend this cruel reality and to find the strength to do what needs to be done.
Over the course of the last several days, we have witnessed the true character of our community – its compassion, its strength, and its generosity. This was particularly apparent on Monday when more than 1,500 students, faculty, staff, family, and friends packed the gathering at the Arthur Zankel Music Center and the candlelight vigil that followed. Together, we grieved and honored Michael and supported Oban, and Toby and the friends and families of the three young men. It was also apparent at the beautiful funeral for Michael that I attended in Lenox yesterday in the company of a large Skidmore delegation. I know our presence was a source of comfort to the Hedges family.
This was true for the Campus Safety officers and first responders who rushed to the scene, as well as the other students who provided aid. It was true for all the health care workers who helped save the lives of Toby and Oban and our own health services staff who consulted with the families. And for all the Student Affairs employees who continue to reach out to students across the campus. And for the events staff and dining crews who planned such beautiful ceremonies and fed a large, unexpected number of students and visitors over the past few days.
It was apparent among the religious and counseling staffs who worked long hours opening their doors and hearts to provide comfort and even arranged for nearly 40 therapy dogs to visit campus and bring smiles to 500 students.
It was true of the faculty and Dean’s offices that reached out to and accommodated students who were affected by such a traumatic event in their young lives. It was true of the students who spoke so eloquently and provided such beautiful music at the gathering, including an original piano piece. And the communicators who worked around the clock to get the word out, respond to the media, and write and post such meaningful stories and photographs. And the hundreds of Skidmore and Saratoga community members who signed the huge cards and wrote notes for Toby and Oban and for Michael’s family.
It was true of the concerned parents and faithful Skidmore alumni who shared condolences and offered their heartfelt support. And of the many, many others who cared and gave so much to make this senseless tragedy more bearable.
Your good work goes on all across our campus. First-Year Experience (FYE) peer mentors and faculty members are continuing to meet with students. Many of you are working together to coordinate a complex calendar of multiple comfort and healing events. These activities are open to our entire community and will continue over the next few weeks.
As I said in my remarks at Zankel, “We come together to share our sorrow but also to do what genuine communities do: to care for and support one another in our difficult hour. A community built on care and respect does that. We care for one another. This caring means that, first of all, we simply are there for one another; we are present."
Thank you for your gracious presence and for the way you care for our community.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Dear members of the Skidmore community,
I am writing to share two planning documents: Institutional Planning, Community, and Celebration: Strategic Action Agenda 2015-2016 and Creating Pathways to Excellence: The Plan for Skidmore College, 2015-2025 v. 12.5. This year's Strategic Action Agenda (SAA) reflects the major strategic priorities of the administrative divisions of the College.
In mid-September I shared draft 9.7 of the next Strategic Plan and this current 12.5 draft reflects feedback received from many people, including members of the community, the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the State of the College Address/Institutional Planning Event on September 25, the Board of Trustees Strategic Planning Committee, and the full Board of Trustees.
There are three upcoming opportunities for members of our community to comment on this latest version: first, we are holding an open IPPC meeting, Friday, November 6, where we will discuss this draft from 11:00 a.m. to noon upstairs in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall. Second, later that same day at 3:30 p.m., part of the Faculty Meeting will include an open discussion of the draft. I ask students, staff, and faculty members to participate in these important discussions. If you are unable to join us for either of these meetings, the third way to participate is to send your comments via email to the President's Office. Please note that we are seeking ratification of this plan during our February Board of Trustees Meeting.
At this time, I ask for your renewed commitment to promoting and participating in our shared agenda that calls upon each of us to exemplify excellence in all that we do each day.
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Dear members of the faculty, staff, and administration:
As many of you know, Marie and I were away from campus last week on College business. I know that a number of very important issues were raised related to shared governance and diversity at the Institutional Policy and Planning Community (IPPC) and the Faculty Meeting. I regret that we could not be present to listen and participate in those conversations.
I sent a statement to our community on September 24th that included details regarding my appointment of a CDO and my expectations for this position. Joshua C. Woodfork's initial work as Vice President of Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity is to listen to a broad range of community members, to hear their concerns and ideas. From these critical listening moments, next steps will emerge.
For now, I respectfully ask that we look forward. Despite the progress we have made together, many issues for our increasingly diverse community still remain unresolved. We need to work together to find new ways to address them. To begin moving toward realizing our shared goals, I ask that we all – both collectively and individually – begin by renewing our commitment to a few simple ideas: first, talking together with respect. We can disagree sharply but yet do so within a personal and rhetorical frame that acknowledges one other's value.
Second, let us please actively affirm that we are operating from positions of good will and concern for the College. We can and should interrogate and test one another's ideas and positions; let us, however, also intentionally shape our discourse more as a discussion and less as a debate. There is an important role for debate in the academy, just as in our national political process, but debates by their nature are divisive. Dialog can bring a community together.
Third, we need to find better ways to connect more deeply to one another, to work together in exploring ways to make Skidmore a better place for everyone. This project will require our full powers of imagination and good will. Yes, some of this work needs to be done in public spaces, at Faculty Meetings or Community Meetings. But to strengthen our community and move beyond the fragile moment at which we find ourselves, we also need to develop new positive, professional relationships among people who may not be talking at present – relationships that allow us to talk colleague-to-colleague, in one another’s offices or over coffee in Case Center.
I have shared a few general ideas. But there is much more to be done, and the work is not easy. Indeed, as we are so painfully reminded on too regular a basis, society as a whole still struggles to overcome the range of challenges that fall under the heading of diversity. But I firmly believe that, as a liberal arts College that is dedicated to the educational ideals we all espouse, we have reasons for optimism. We can be wiser working together than any of us can be individually, provided that we do work together and not against one another in this important undertaking. Above all, we need to acknowledge that it is we who will determine the outcome.
Please note that we will be holding Community Meetings October 12 at 3:00 p.m. or October 13 at 11:00 a.m. both in the Payne Room of the Tang, as well as an Open Office Hour on October 13 from 1-2 p.m. in the President’s Office, Palamountain 4th Floor. Details will be forthcoming for both.
Thank you for your attention.
Philip A. Glotzbach