Policy on Political Activity
To the Skidmore Community:
Now that the first presidential debate has taken place, we have entered into the most public segment of a lengthy campaign season. In fact, the election is six weeks from today. We have witnessed strong opinions during this political season and anticipate that this will continue.
I write to remind you that we do have a College policy on Political Activity, which I encourage you to review at this weblink.
Our policy was developed by students, staff, and faculty members. In reviewing it, you will see that its underlying essence is a call for us to be wise, measured, and respectful of opinions that differ from our own. Please refer to this Policy when thinking about any political activity that you or your organization may plan to undertake.
As a liberal arts college, we greatly prize freedom of expression, and we also value, and expect, that we honor and learn from diverse schools of thought.
You have likely seen advertised the impressive array of activities and events that are being held right here on campus this fall. I encourage you to visit the exhibit, "A More Perfect Union" at the Frances M. Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, which is providing a "town square" hub of activities and events. For example, over 330 community members attended a "Debate Watch Party" last night at the Tang. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media publisher Jose Antonio Vargas will be at the Tang tomorrow night to talk about immigration policy and the presidential election. And on Monday, October 10, Alexander Heffner, host of PBS’s show The Open Mind, will moderate a dialogue with Republican Congressman Chris Gibson and Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko entitled "What Ever Happened to Compromise?"
A full listing of related events coming up on campus may be found here. If you have an upcoming event and would like to add it to the list, please let us know.
As we head toward Tuesday, November 8, I encourage you to participate in the election process and to find positive ways to make your opinion known that lead to greater understanding and exchange in a respectful manner. Thank you.
Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
To the Skidmore Community:
I write to share news that I reported at the September faculty meeting: Beau Breslin, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will leave his administrative post as of January 1, 2018. Beau has graciously agreed to stay on through 2017 in order to complete some key projects related to the Center for Integrated Sciences, participate in a large number of tenure decisions next fall, and continue work on the General Education curriculum renewal. He will take a well-deserved sabbatical in 2018–19 and then rejoin the Political Science Department in September 2019.
I accepted Beau’s decision with reluctance. He has been – and will continue to be – a strong voice for academic life throughout the College, an advocate for our faculty, and a community leader. With six years of dedicated service in this role and four in previous administrative duties, he has been away from his teaching and research for ten years now, and I know that he misses being in the classroom with our students.
I have discussed this transition with the chairs of key faculty committees, including the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) and the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (CAPT), as well as the vice chair of the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC). We will begin a national search next fall, and I will work through the appropriate governance channels on the appointment of an Interim Dean/Vice President for the spring of 2018 and on other matters relating to this search.
I appreciate that Beau will continue his stellar administrative service for the next three semesters, and I am equally pleased that he will continue to be an invaluable advisor to me and members of the President’s Cabinet during this time. We are very grateful for all that he has done in support of Skidmore in this important role.
In due course, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Beau’s many accomplishments, but I believe it is appropriate to inform the community of his decision now, so that we can, with his involvement, make plans for this important transition.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas as we move forward. Thank you for your attention.
Middle States Accreditation
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to share with you the positive news we have recently received from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE): our reaccreditation has been formally confirmed, and we have been commended publicly on the quality of our self-study process. Many of you were present when the visiting team read their report to us on March 9. It contained a long list of compliments. It also contained some recommendations. We are pleased to say that those recommendations, while a permanent part of their report, are not public, and do not result in a compulsory follow-up before our next self-study process.
This result places us in a small group of colleges who have been commended for our work. Of the 46 colleges and universities that underwent reaccreditation last year, 33 must follow up to document improvements; the Commission commended only 13 others–Skidmore among them–in the self-study process, while reaffirming accreditation without any required monitoring or progress report.
We can be proud of our accreditation process and of all that we are doing in support of excellence at Skidmore. The requirements for accreditation have changed in recent years, and will continue to change; in particular, the MSCHE now requires much more transparency and accountability. We will need to continue to strengthen the ways in which we can demonstrate our commitment to our students’ learning and to decision-making that is based on the best-available evidence. But we can say now with pride that we excel at what we do, and that we have been recognized publicly for our efforts.
For your information, here is a website link to the MSCHE action.
Once again, I especially want to thank Skidmore’s Middle States Steering Committee, the members of the Working Groups that drafted the self-study, and all of you who participated in the reaccreditation process and made it so successful. Most importantly, I thank you for all that you continue to do, day in and day out, that makes Skidmore the extraordinary college that it is.
Today, I know I join others in our Skidmore community who are still reeling from the incomprehensible tragedy in Orlando, Florida over the weekend. We have lowered our flags in honor of the lives lost and in solidarity with the families and loved ones who are mourning. We have also placed a rainbow LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/and or questioning) flag prominently outside Case Center in Porter Plaza to acknowledge the loss, especially within our gay community.
For those on campus who would like to gather for a time of remembrance, we will hold a brief memorial at 4:15 p.m. today at Porter Plaza. For anyone who needs 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.
Let me share two reflections:
From Skidmore's Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Parker Diggory: "In addition to the staggering loss of life, I keep coming back to the knowledge that a kind of sanctuary was violated in this attack and that the LGBTQ community, particularly those of color, are experiencing loss and fear on a devastating scale. In the swirl of narratives and grief that will continue to emerge from this event, I hope each of us takes the time we need to reach out to our people in whatever way is right for us, and to acknowledge the grief and anger as well as the need for community."
From former Skidmore American Studies Fellow Richard Kim writing in The Nation: "Gay bars are therapy for people who can't afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can't go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression."
Sadly, it was almost exactly a year ago that I reached out to you about the horrible murders at the A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the meantime, we have seen other such tragedies around the world, and I know that we all mourn for those who have experienced great loss. It brings home to all of us our charge here at Skidmore: to educate future leaders to work for a time when we see a diminishing number of such actions that are driven by hatred and fear to be replaced by actions that are driven by love and hope.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write to announce Cerri Annette Banks as our new Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, effective August 1, 2016. Cerri currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
I am truly thrilled to welcome Cerri Banks to our community. She brings an extraordinary level of experience in the increasingly complex world of student affairs. Cerri is uniquely qualified to lead a division that oversees every facet of our students' lives outside of the classroom. Her background and insights will be invaluable in the President’s Cabinet and across our campus.
Here at Skidmore, Cerri will oversee 134 employees and five offices within Student Affairs, including athletics, campus life, career development, student diversity programs, and student academic services.
She replaces Interim Dean and Vice President Gail Cummings-Danson, who held the role for the past academic year after the departure of former Dean and Vice President W. Rochelle Calhoun for a vice presidency at Princeton University. Gail will return to her previous role as Skidmore's athletics director in the fall. I want to thank Gail for her extraordinary service stepping up to the interim role while also maintaining her duties as A.D. During this past year, she has helped us deal with a number of daunting challenges, and she has done so with intelligence, wisdom, and grace.
Cerri has held the Mount Holyoke position since July 2011. She oversaw a staff of 70 and a $5.4 million annual budget; in addition, she served on the President's Cabinet, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, the Academic Priorities Committee, and numerous other high-level boards.
Previously, Cerri was Dean of William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., after serving there as a faculty member, interim dean, and director of the President's Commission on Inclusive Excellence.
She received B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Syracuse University between 1997 and 2006, where her areas of study included cultural foundations of education. A scholar of multiculturalism and diversity in education, she has written two books and produced scores of articles, book chapters, and presentations on culturally relevant teaching and learning and other subjects.
Active in key higher-education organizations over the course of her career, Banks has won a wide array of honors, awards, and scholarships. A graduate of Monroe Community College before transferring to Syracuse, she was inducted into Monroe’s Hall of Fame.
I want to express my deep gratitude to a very strong search committee that included Mary Lou Bates, Gail Cummings-Danson, Corey Freeman-Gallant, David Howson, Terri Mariani, Tashawn Reagon '16, Natalie Taylor (vice chair), Charles Tetelman '16, and Joshua Woodfork (chair). And many thanks to all the students, faculty, and staff members who interacted with our finalists and offered insightful feedback. I also want to compliment our search partners Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates who ably assisted us and provided us with a remarkable pool of talented candidates.
Cerri is excited to join our community, meet more of our students, and collaborate with partners across the campus. Please join me in welcoming our new colleague.
Future winter breaks
May 6, 2016
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
After discussions with the President’s Cabinet, within College divisions, and with the Staff Advisory Group, I am pleased to announce extended winter holiday breaks over the coming three years for non-union employees. Union employees, whose holidays are guided by their bargaining unit agreements, are encouraged to use vacation days, other paid leave, or unpaid leave (in that order) for those days that are not contractually scheduled holidays.
The College will be closed during these winter breaks, but as you are well aware the presence of certain employees will be vital to their department’s functioning at these times. Please note that with temperatures in certain buildings reduced significantly, some employees who work during the closures may be re-assigned temporarily to other buildings.
For the next three years, Skidmore’s winter closures (including the weekend days that fall adjacent to or during the closed periods) will each consist of 14 consecutive days, as follows:
- 2016: College closes beginning Monday, December 26, 2016, and reopens on Monday, January 9, 2017
- 2017: College closes beginning Thursday, December 21, 2017, and reopens on Thursday, January 4, 2018
- 2018: College closes beginning Monday, December 24, 2018, and reopens on Monday, January 7, 2019
If you have any questions, I encourage you to speak with your supervisor or to contact any member of the Human Resources team.
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.
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
Please join us Tuesday evening March 22 at 7 p.m. as we come together to celebrate the life of first-year student Willem "Will" Golden who passed away on Saturday.
In an effort to support each other and send our thoughts and prayers to Will's family, we will gather as a community in Ladd Hall in the Arthur Zankel Music Center and end the evening with a candlelight vigil outdoors in the Thomas Amphitheater. If necessary, overflow accommodations will be available.
The Murray-Aikins Dining Hall will be open Tuesday before and after the event at no cost to our students.
I know this is a very difficult time for everyone on our campus, and I hope this gathering provides some comfort to our students, families, and our community. Please show your Skidmore pride by wearing our school colors—green and yellow—to our gathering.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Death of a Student
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I write today to share the terribly sad news that one of our students, Willem “Will” Golden, of Cohasset, Massachusetts, died yesterday as the result of a fall in Newark, Delaware. Will was a first-year student and a member of the Skidmore hockey team who resided in Wait Hall.
Our hearts go out to Will’s family members, his friends on campus, and those back home. We have been in contact with his family and shared our deep sympathy and offers of assistance. They will notify us when funeral plans are made. In the meantime, we are in the process of planning a campus gathering on Tuesday and will provide more details as soon as they are available.
Will had been a member of the Skidmore community for less than a year but had already made many connections with students, faculty, staff, and teammates who will grieve his loss very deeply.
Let me remind you of the additional counseling services on campus this week that were planned given tomorrow’s sentencing of the driver in the tragic crash this past October. To lose two students in one year is unthinkable, and I know that this most recent death will affect every one of us in our close community.
In addition to their 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 12:30-2 p.m.
Wilson Chapel will be open all week for those seeking solace there and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life staff will be available each day. The Chapel will also hold multiple opportunities for reflection, mindfulness, and communion throughout the week – including yoga and meditation. The Chapel schedule is available 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 in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall Atrium from 5:30-7 p.m.
I ask that we all do everything we can to support one another during this very challenging time.
Philip A. Glotzbach
Commencement 2016: Speakers
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am pleased to announce that at the 105th Skidmore College Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 21, 2016, I will confer honorary degrees upon two exceptional individuals:
|Emanuel Ax, internationally acclaimed classical pianist. A multiple Grammy winner, Ax is famous for his artistic virtuosity, collaborative spirit, and embrace of old and new music. In 2010, he headlined the formal opening of Skidmore's Arthur Zankel Music Center. |
Bernice Johnson Reagon, renowned activist, musician, educator, and cultural scholar. Reagon was a Freedom Singer for the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and as composer and performer she led her Sweet Honey in the Rock ensemble for 30 years. She is an American University professor emerita and Smithsonian Institution curator emerita.
Both of our distinguished guests will address the graduating class. Board of Trustees Chair Linda Toohey, Class of 2016 President Miles Calzini, and I will also offer our congratulations.
Following a Skidmore tradition, a faculty member selected by the graduates will speak as well. I am pleased to announce that the senior class has selected Katherine (Kate) Graney, associate professor of government and director of gender studies, as this year's Faculty Commencement Speaker. With research expertise in ethnicities and federalism in Russia and the former Soviet states, since 1999 Professor Graney has taught courses ranging from Russian and Eastern European politics to gender in international relations and human rights.
For more information on Commencement 2016, please see our website. We look forward to celebrating this special milestone with the Class of 2016, their families, and guests in May.
Spring 2016 Semester Updates
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community:
I hope the semester is off to a great start for all of you. As we make our way through a lively period in Skidmore’s history, I write to update you on a wide variety of news and activities affecting everyone in our community.
Another great year for applications
We received a record number of applications for Skidmore’s Class of 2020. We currently have 9,115 on file, in comparison to 8,453 last year—an increase of 8% over last year and 6% over the previous record set two years ago. The majority of the additional applications are from international students, 74% of whom are seeking financial aid. In this year’s pool, 27% of applications are from international students, in comparison with 22% last year and 20% the year before. We also received a record number of Early Decision (ED) applications: 547 this year, a 30% increase over last year’s 411. The ED Round II Committee meets next week, so final numbers are not yet available, but we are hoping to enroll 42% of the class through ED this year, compared to 38% last year.
Campaign at $101 million
We are making excellent progress on our comprehensive fundraising effort, Creating Our Future: The Campaign for Skidmore. We just passed $101 million in gifts and pledges, and we are already seeing the Campaign’s impact in a number of areas—additional support for our financial aid program, new internships and collaborative research opportunities, the Valentine Boathouse (where we have just started the permitting process), and the Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS).
Strategic Plan on its way to the board
The Plan has now received the endorsement of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees, the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the Staff Advisory Group, the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate, and our faculty. Many thanks to Professor Tim Harper for presenting it at Friday’s Faculty Meeting, where a vote endorsed it with two amendments. The Plan has also been sent to the Alumni Board and will be taken up by the full Board of Trustees later this month. Thank you all for your good work in getting us to this point. Once the Board approves the contents of the document, it will be copy-edited and sent back out to the campus community. It is very exciting to have this blueprint in place to guide our next decade.
Middle States process well in hand
We were successful in the Middle States document review stage of the reaccreditation process, and now we are eagerly awaiting the campus visit (March 6-9) from an external review team led by Dr. Janet M. Riggs, President of Gettysburg College. The Self-Study can be accessed here, using your Skidmore login credentials.
General Education work progressing
The Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP) continues to work on the proposed new curriculum, making refinements based on feedback received. January’s Academic Summit provided another opportunity for members of the community to comment on the proposal, and CEPP will now make adjustments based on those latest comments.
Federal complaint filed
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has notified us that a complaint has been filed related to the handling of a sexual assault case at Skidmore in 2014. We are responding to this action and the Department’s request for documents and will comply with all requirements. Skidmore is now one of the 276 OCR investigations at colleges and universities around the country. We will keep you apprised of further developments.
Research continues at Starbuck Center
As we informed you in an earlier campus memo, several members of President’s Cabinet and I met with colleagues working in Starbuck Center who expressed concerns about three current cases of breast cancer. Since that time, the new Starbuck Steering Committee (SSC) has met on several occasions and hosted a campus meeting to share information from the last round of testing in 2012. The SSC has been in contact with the New York State Department of Health and other organizations, and work continues to develop future assessments. You can find the latest news at their blog, using your Skidmore login credentials.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives and actions move forward
The Fall Semester was marked by student activism around campus climate and inclusion. I appreciated our students’ willingness to work collaboratively with the administration and their continuing conversations with the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU). We are moving on actions to address some of the issues they have raised. We are in a time of transition with regard to a number of leadership roles relating to diversity and inclusion at the College, and I expect us to make progress in filling those positions and continuing to move forward as we go through this semester. In January, Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Professor of Sociology and Department Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Swarthmore College and noted expert on diversity and higher education, consulted with President’s Cabinet, presented at Academic Summit, and met with other groups, including the Advisory Council on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct.
Academic Affairs continues to underscore the importance of engaging in important work related to diversity—especially its commitment to recruiting and retaining faculty and staff from underrepresented groups. The Dean of the Faculty, together with the Center for Leadership, Teaching, and Learning, is offering a series of workshops and trainings related to diversity and inclusion. And, of course, other areas of Academic Affairs—in particular, the Tang—continue to organize their work around this broad topic.
Cabinet searches underway
Foundations have now been laid to fill important positions on the President’s Cabinet. For the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs position, the search firm of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates has been hired to advise the process. We will make an announcement soon about the makeup of the search committee. (I am very grateful to Gail Cummings-Danson for taking on this cabinet role while retaining her position as Director of Athletics.) After getting the search for the Dean of Students underway, we will launch the search for the Vice President for Marketing and Communications. Both positions are key to achieving the goals set forth in our new Strategic Plan, and we will involve the campus in helping us to make these critical decisions.
New shows at the Tang
On Saturday the Tang officially launched three exciting new shows. Alma Thomas brings awareness of a great American artist to a new generation in a partnership with the Studio Museum of Harlem. Borrowed Light, which highlights the gift of more than 500 photographs to the Tang last year, forms the core of three courses this semester being taught by Ian Berry, Mimi Hellman, and Robert ParkeHarrison. Critter & Guitari is an interactive sound exhibition created by 2002 Skidmore graduates Owen Osborn and Chris Kucinski that reveals the skills and entrepreneurship they developed as students here. The Tang is happy to set up group tours for faculty and staff.
The driver in the terrible Halloween night crash that killed our student Michael Hedges and injured two others recently pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter and will be sentenced in March. And the former campus safety officer involved in a sexual misconduct case off campus was sentenced to five years’ probation.
Last fall the Space Planning Working Group, chaired by Crystal Moore and Dan Rodecker, made recommendations that were approved by cabinet and IPPC for the first of many projects that will serve our students, faculty, and staff over the next two to three years while the Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS) is being planned. Projects now underway include the move later this year of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs from Filene Hall to the recently acquired Van Patten House at the far north end of North Broadway. Van Patten will undergo substantial renovation this spring and summer to prepare for the move. Filling the vacated space in Filene will be the Economics and Classics Departments, joining MDOCS there. Also, on May 16, CIS-related geothermal work will begin and will put the Palamountain parking lot out of commission for much of the summer; we appreciate your planning and patience.
Hoverboards banned on campus
An IPPC policy went into effect on January 25 prohibiting the self-balancing scooters known as hoverboards, battery-operated scooters, and hands-free Segways from our campus. This step was taken because of fire hazards and other concerns raised by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Anyone who has brought one of these devices to campus should contact Campus Safety, who will work with our facilities team to find safe storage until the devices can be removed from campus. If such items are found on campus, they will be confiscated for safe storage until the end of the semester.
Skidmore Cares another great success
Marie and I thank you for your enthusiastic involvement in Skidmore Cares. In December the program collected 2,218 food items, 1,017 school supplies, nearly $3,000 from our vendors, and over $8,000 from the campus, primarily from Beatlemore Skidmania—for a grand total of $11,091 in contributions, which were distributed to ten Saratoga County helping agencies. We should all be proud of this generous community effort!
I wish you all a wonderful spring semester.
Next Strategic Plan
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
I am writing to share the final draft of the next Strategic Plan, v. 15.2: Creating Pathways to Excellence: the Plan for Skidmore College, 2015-2025, which is posted on the College's planning website here. Please note that I have also posted two versions with track changes so you are able to view the edits to the document since December 2, 2015 when I shared the last version, 14.5.
On January 27, 2016, the Pilot Staff Advisory Group unanimously endorsed the Plan at its meeting. This Friday, (2/5/16), the Plan will be presented to the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Faculty. We are seeking endorsement from both groups. Over its next two meetings, the Student Government Association's Senate is also considering the Plan. It has also been shared with the Alumni Board. The Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to send the Plan to the full Board of Trustees, which consider the Plan for approval at its Board Retreat at the end of this month.
From white papers to surveys to green dot exercises to roundtable discussions to office hours, our strategic planning process has certainly been robust. I want to take this opportunity to express gratitude for all of your participation and input over the last two academic years. I look forward to working with you to bring our shared vision into an exciting reality. Thank you for your attention.
Legal Update on October's Tragedy
Dear members of the Skidmore community:
I write to let you know that the driver involved in the terrible crash that killed our student Michael Hedges and injured Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith pleaded guilty this afternoon to vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault. The press release from the District Attorneyss Office announcing the plea is available here. Our thanks go out to the DA and all of the members of the police and legal community for their time and efforts in this difficult case.
I realize that for many this news will bring to the surface deep emotions connected with the tragedy that befell our campus last fall. I hope that the disposition of this legal case can provide some sense of closure.
Please keep in mind that the Counseling Center and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life are available to students if and when you need them.
We hold a special place in our hearts today, and always, for Michael's family and friends and celebrate that Oban, Toby, and others in the vicinity of the crash are safely back among us.
News regarding Starbuck Center
Dear members of the Skidmore community:
Last week, several members of President’s Cabinet and I met with colleagues working in Starbuck Center who expressed concerns that environmental factors in the building could be related to three current cases of breast cancer. The news that any of our colleagues are dealing with serious health issues is disturbing, and we in senior leadership are deeply concerned.
We are following up on many levels. The Cabinet has convened a Starbuck Steering Committee (SSC) to oversee the investigation of the current health concerns that have emerged in the building. The SSC is chaired by Crystal Moore (Associate Dean of the Faculty). Its members include Bill Tomlinson (Director of Sponsored Research), Dan Rodecker (Director of Facilities Services), and Patty Bosen (Director of Health Services). It also includes one representative from each of the four divisions in Starbuck: Lisa Hobbs (Academic Affairs), Lisa Tuttle (Financial Aid), Cindy Hurley (Financial Services), and Elizabeth Kopraski (Student Academic Services). In addition, the SSC is consulting with Loretta Greenholtz (Academic Safety Officer) and other colleagues on our campus who have expertise and knowledge that can help us with this work.
The SSC has been charged with engaging in the process to locate and hire a firm or firms to conduct a new round of environmental testing and an epidemiological study, and to consult with the New York State Department of Health and other relevant parties. President's Cabinet has made it clear that all decisions about this process are under the SSC’s purview. SSC will meet every few days over the next several weeks to ensure that progress is being made on the testing, and on securing the needed information to allow us to make important health decisions. Employees will be given frequent updates. The mandate of the SSC is immediate action, transparency, and timely communication with the goal of keeping our employees safe.
So far, the SSC has contacted the New York State Department of Health and will partner with it to assist us in implementing further environmental and epidemiological assessments to, once again, determine whether there are any identifiable factors present in Starbuck Center that could possibly be related to the new health issues that have arisen.
Most of us will recall that in 2012 similar concerns were raised about Starbuck Center. At that time, we undertook a comprehensive environmental study of the building. That study determined that there were no identifiable factors that could be causally related to illnesses suffered by our employees. Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, we moved everyone out of the building for several months and undertook major replacements and refurbishments inside the structure. These changes included new flooring and carpeting, new ceilings, and new ductwork – indeed, the entire HVAC system was replaced. We also engaged an outside expert from The Ohio State University School of Medicine who conducted a medical review of current and former employees suffering from breast cancer to determine if there was any evidence of an environmental link. That study also concluded that there was no evidence of any such connection.
At this time, we want not only to review the building again for any possible carcinogens or health risks that were studied in 2012 but also to learn of any new research findings, knowledge, or protocols for testing that have arisen in the past four years. While we don’t yet know how long these follow-up studies will take, we do know that the previous investigation was conducted over a period of approximately three months.
Because of the absence of health risks found in previous comprehensive studies and the fact that the building was nevertheless completely refurbished, there is no justification for relocating offices from Starbuck Center in the short term. In the event that you feel that you simply cannot remain in the building, we ask that you inform your supervisors, who will do their best to collaborate with you to determine if an alternative work plan is feasible. At the same time, all offices in Starbuck Center performing essential services for students, and those services must be maintained.
To keep the larger community informed, particularly our employees who work in Starbuck, the SSC will launch a blog with frequent updates regarding the testing and study process. The link to the blog was sent to the campus community on Wednesday, January 20, with directions to access it.
In addition, a community meeting will be held during the week of January 25 in which Loretta Greenholtz (Academic Safety Officer) will go over the findings from the last round of tests, present the SSC current plan, and answer any questions the community may have. The date and time will be announced by the end of the week.
To those employees currently serving in Starbuck: While we complete new assessments of Starbuck, please know that you can speak with your supervisor, any member of the SSC, Crystal Moore, Barbara Beck (Associate Vice President for Finance & Administration and Director of Human Resources), Mike West (Vice President for Finance and Administration), or me about any and all concerns that you may have.
Above all, everyone should be fully assured that we are assiduously following up on this issue and are fully committed to providing a safe place to work for every Skidmore employee.
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
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
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
Sexual misconduct article in Scope Magazine
Dear Skidmore families,
The fall issue of Scope magazine will be arriving soon in your mailbox. Its cover story provides an in-depth look at how Skidmore College is responding to the national issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct, which is challenging colleges and universities across the country. If you would like to see the story on-line in advance, you can click here. Although this issue is not confined to colleges, it is of great concern to all of us at Skidmore who are charged both with ensuring the safety and well-being of our students.
Skidmore has been actively addressing this issue for many years, and we continue to enhance our training, counseling, and education aimed at helping students act responsibly toward one another, while also strengthening our policies, procedures and adjudication of complaints in line with best practices and local and national laws and regulations. As you will read in the Scope article, the most recent changes to our policy reflect changes to the law in New York State. If you would like know more about our policies and procedures, you can go to our website where they are detailed.
While I am pleased with the work College staff have put into this effort, I am also acutely aware that the issue of sexual and gender-based misconduct remains an enormous challenge for Skidmore and, indeed, for all of higher education. We will continue to do all we can to address this issue that is so deeply and profoundly corrosive to our community and our society.
Thank you for continuing to care about Skidmore and our students.
Philip A. Glotzbach