Posted by Caroline Smith
It has been 40 years since Professor Betty Balevic first began to teach in Skidmore's Department of Business. She has watched the college transform from an all female institution into what it is today. Her loyalty to the college, as not only a dedicated faculty member but also a proud parent of two alumnae, remains strong.
Skidmore News: Where is your family from? Where did you grow up?
Betty Balevic: I'm first generation American and my parents are Greek. My father started a little candy shop with his brothers in Amsterdam, N.Y. and eventually one of the brothers went to Canajoharie and opened a city store.
My father was fairly successful in Amsterdam until the time the town fathers decided to change the town drastically. In doing so they took out a lot of the properties and they bought my father's property. It was okay because he was ready to retire at that point and we had a wonderful childhood.
I had one brother who went to Duke Law School and ended up working for social security down in Baltimore, Maryland. It was a very small family. I married 35 years ago and now I have three children - two daughters and a son.
SN: Why did you decide to become a teacher rather than pursuing a career business?
BB: For a very selfish reason: I was very tired of working 12 months a year. Having a family, I needed to work because my husband got very ill. So I decided to finish my teaching degree.
I could get a job teaching in the school year and have the summer off and grow old with my children. It was a very selfish reason. I had to go back to school; I went to SUNY Albany.
I then got a job teaching at a business college down in Albany, N.Y. One day a friend of mine called me and said there was a business position open at Skidmore, so I came up and I was offered the position and I've been here for 40 years.
SN: How has your experience been so far?
BB: Skidmore has been a great trip for me. I've had a lot of wonderful colleagues and have had a lot of wonderful students, many of whom have kept in touch with me. In a little while a trustee will be visiting who was one of my students many years ago. Hopefully, if she comes to the trustee's meeting, she will be able to visit a class because she's in the retail industry now.
SN: You came to Skidmore just as it was transitioning from a single sex to co-ed school, what were some of the issues that arose during this time?
BB: How would the women react to having the guys around? How would this affect their studying?
A lot of the guys who came here originally were art majors because art was at that time, and still is, a very important part of the Skidmore fabric. Little by little some of those guys decided to take on other majors and a lot of them drifted into the business major.
When I came there were two people teaching in [the business] department and there were seven or nine majors a year graduating. That's changed a lot from where it was 40 years ago. It has taken a lot of changes, and a lot of efforts by the college and the faculty to be where we are now.
Skidmore was a very different kind of college 40 years ago and Saratoga was a very distressed community. It didn't have the affluence and the money spending and the housing market that we have today. The stores downtown were small; a lot of places downtown were closed."