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 write with a heavy heart to share with you the news that no college president ever wants to share with a campus community. One of the students involved in a vehicle-pedestrian accident early this morning has passed away and two others remain in intensive care at Albany Medical Center.
All of the families have been at the hospital with their children since early this morning. Marie and I will see them today and we will assure them that Skidmore will do everything we can for them.
The student who died is Michael Hedges of Lenox, Massachusetts, a first-year student. The injured students are Toby Freeman, a first-year student from New York and Oban Galbraith, also a first-year student, from Shelburne, Vermont. I know I speak for the entire Skidmore community when I say that we are mourning with Michael’s family and praying for the speedy recovery of Toby and Oban. We will keep you informed of their progress when we have more news.
Students and counselors are gathering at the Wilson Chapel at noon and the hours of the Counseling Center have been extended. You can reach the Counseling Center at 518-580-5555. Tomorrow night at 8 p.m. we will hold a campus gathering.
This is a very sad time for every member of our campus community. Please do everything you can to console and look out for each other as we send our thoughts and prayers to the students and families involved in this tragedy.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Former Skidmore President Passes Away
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write today to share the very sad news that David H. Porter, fifth president of Skidmore College, has died. It is especially painful, in this season of renewal, for the Skidmore community to once more confront the loss of a beloved community member and friend. Our thoughts go immediately to David’s wife, Helen, their children, and their grandchildren, as they cope with this loss.
Born in New York City in 1935, David received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1958 and a doctorate in Classics from Princeton University in 1962. He then traveled to Carleton College where, for the next quarter of a century, he enjoyed a remarkably productive career as a teacher, scholar, and administrator.
David assumed the Skidmore presidency in June 1987. During his twelve-year tenure as president, he greatly enhanced the intellectual life of the campus, helped conceive and plan the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, successfully led the Journey Campaign, which raised nearly $86.5 million (then the largest campaign total in the College’s history), and worked to diversify the College’s student body, faculty, and staff.
David’s intellectual interests and achievements were broad and eclectic. He was a regular contributor of opinion pieces to The New York Times and The Boston Globe. He wrote letters to the editor of The New Yorker. And in addition to penning books on Horace and Greek tragedy as part of his core scholarly activity, he also produced monographs on Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press, and the Austrian pianist and composer, Edward Steuermann. Finally, he and his wife Helen co-authored a book on Lucy Skidmore Scribner.
Music was another great passion for David. He studied piano with Steuermann and harpsichord with the celebrated Gustav Leonhardt, and he regularly performed both on- and off-campus. His presentation "The Well-Tampered Clavier: Play, Musical and Otherwise," was a staple for incoming students both during his presidency and long after. He presented this performance at a national conference of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and last performed it for first-year Skidmore students this past September in the Arthur Zankel Music Center.
Following his term as president, David returned to the classroom, teaching at his alma mater, Princeton University, as well as Williams College, Indiana University, and Skidmore, where he served as the first Tisch Family Distinguished Professor. He retired from the classroom in 2013, after more than half a century of teaching, but remained an active scholar. His edition of Lucy Gayheart for the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition was published this past August.
David’s continuing contributions to our community were underscored just this past week when he was an honored guest at Skidmore’s annual David H. Porter Classical World Lecture, featuring acclaimed author Barry Strauss, who paid tribute to David’s classics scholarship at the start of his lecture. As was his wont, David spent much of the dinner following that lecture speaking with students, forming a connection with a new generation of scholars and displaying, as always, his undiminished talent for and love of puns and wordplay.
Details about a service will be announced when finalized. For those who may need support, Counseling Services may be reached at 518-580-5555. As a reminder, all employees may utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may be reached at 518-793-9768. Wilson Chapel is available for those seeking space for reflection.
I ask you to join Marie and me in keeping David’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Legal Update and Campus Support
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to share with you the news that the driver in the devastating crash that took the life of student Michael Hedges and injured students Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith last October was sentenced in Saratoga County Court this afternoon. Thomas H. Gorman, who pled guilty in February to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and first-degree vehicular assault, both felonies, received the maximum sentence allowable under the law from Judge James Murphy. He specifically sentenced Mr. Gorman to five to 15 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter and two to six years for vehicular assault, to be served concurrently. He will not be eligible for early release.
While no sentence can bring back Michael, I do hope that this court action will bring some measure of closure to the families and friends of the victims. Interim Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Gail Cummings-Danson and I attended the sentencing hearing, along with a group of students and family members. All of us were tremendously affected by the emotional victim-impact statements given by Toby and Oban, as well as Will Blauvelt and Kitty Horblit, who were with them on that terrible night. We were extremely impressed by the strength and courage these students exhibited in describing their pain.
A touching letter was also read on behalf of Michael Hedges’s mother, Stephanie Mae, who was in attendance along with her son Tom and the parents of Toby and Oban.
The families told us once again how much the College’s outpouring of support has meant to them over these past very difficult months. We are now involved in planning for a campus tree-planting ceremony in memory of Michael Hedges later this spring. We will provide details soon, and all members of the Skidmore community will be invited to attend.
This is a painful time for Skidmore with the death of another student, Will Golden, over the past weekend. Our hearts go out to all of these families and the entire community as we all struggle to comprehend this unbearable loss.
As I mentioned in an email this morning, there will be a gathering Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in Ladd Concert Hall in the Arthur Zankel Music Center, to honor and remember Will.
Recognizing that this news will affect members of our community in different ways, let me remind you that we are making available a variety of opportunities for support this week.
In addition to its regular services, the Counseling Center will be offering same-day 30-minute consultations with a therapist all week for individuals directly affected by these events. Please call the Center at 518-580-5555 the day you would like to come in.
The Health Promotion Office will be bringing therapy dogs, both large and small, to the Intercultural Center (ICC) in Case Center on Tuesday, March 22, from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will be available and Wilson Chapel will be open every day this week. There will also be multiple opportunities for reflection, mindfulness, and communion—including yoga and meditation in the Chapel on Tuesday, March 22, from 11 a.m. to noon; Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m.; and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. Mindfulness moments take place on Tuesday and Thursday in the Chapel at 12:15 p.m. for twenty minutes. And the Chapel offers Zen meditation on Tuesday night from 6:25 to 8 p.m. Please see the chapel schedule here.
Because our ties to others are particularly important in times of loss and stress, our Peer Health Educators will also be hosting an event focusing on healthy relationships, on Thursday, March 24, in the Kisiel Atrium of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
While our community is being tested by these extraordinarily sad events, I know that we will once again reach out to help each other through these difficult times.
Philip A. Glotzbach