Editorial: Fan the flames of our education, grant alumni access to databases

Posted by the Editorial Board

As the weather gets warmer and seniors' mailboxes are filled with notes asking them to order caps and gowns, the class of 2012 is constantly reminded about their impending graduation and the end of their undergraduate studies. Many seniors are, for the first time, thinking about their relationship that Skidmore alumni have with their alma mater. 

Skidmore offers a slew of resources and benefits to its 30,000 alumni. Graduates receive invitations to Celebration Weekend, access to the Skidmore Business Network and the possibility of auditing courses. Skidmore organizes cocktail parties, lectures and receptions with President Glotzbach and travel programs for its graduates. Skidmore alumni are also granted a lifetime use of Career Services, weekend use of the Sports and Recreation Center, and use of the Scribner Library.

Our access to the library however, is not complete. One of the benefits that we do not retain as alumni is access to the academic databases like JSTOR and EBSCOhost. This loss is unfortunate and unnecessary.

Our academic interests certainly do not end the second we are handed a diploma. The liberal arts education ignites the spark of curiosity and fans its flames for a lifetime. Though many of us will be doing post-graduate studies that will surely grant access to these databases, others among us will enter directly into the workforce and will lose access these resources.

Though it would likely be prohibitively expensive to include all alumni in the license agreements that Skidmore has with these databases, we might consider an opt-in program for those alumni who would use and enjoy these academic journals. 

Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., recently started one such initiative.  Last month, Macalester announced it would begin a JSTOR alumni pilot program. Their alumni will have access to over 1,500 scholarly journals to help quench the thirst for knowledge that is created by a liberal arts education. 

There is no reason that Skidmore should not explore adopting a similar program. The school would of course need to gage alumni interest and perform a cost-benefit analysis. We risk little by at least considering the possibility. 

Skidmore's allocation of resources as an academic institution is primarily focused on is its current students - as it should be. Skidmore should consider further supporting the love of knowledge that it steeped its alumni in as students.   

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