Posted by Julia Leef '14
Skidmore College shared its praise for the Sussman family at the official dedication of Sussman Village last Friday, Oct. 25 which, although open to the public, was mostly attended by trustees and administrators. President Philip A. Glotzbach, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun and student representative Emily Abeshouse '14, all spoke on the transition from the Scribner to the Sussman Village, while former Trustee and Chairman of the Investment Committee S. Donald Sussman and his two daughters, Emily and Carolyn, talked about their passion for the College.
Scribner Village was built in 1973 as a temporary residence for students and had fallen into poor conditions, necessitating its replacement with the new Sussman Village, which opened to students this fall semester. The dedication ceremony took place to recognize the people involved in this project and to officially give the name "Sussman Village" to the new apartments.
Calhoun began the event by recognizing the many people who had been instrumental in bringing the Sussman Village project to completion, including Director of Residential Life Don Hastings, Special Assistant to the Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Hall, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Mike West, Project Manager of Facilities Services Paul Lundberg and Vice President for Student Life Hannah DeGraaf '15. Calhoun expressed her pleasure at having this space where students could come together as a community and invited Abeshouse, who is one of the Unit Advisors for the Sussman Apartments, to lend a student perspective to the event.
"The College provides a number of resources to help us plan and care for our lives," Abeshouse said. "Fundamental living skills aside, being able to live with three of my best friends is what, for me, makes Sussman Village a home. We are so incredibly grateful for the generous gift you have provided for us."
President Glotzbach followed with a slightly historical perspective, reminiscing to ten years ago when only 75 percent of students lived on campus, as compared to today's approximately 86 percent. Glotzbach emphasized the fundamental support of the Board of Trustees and thanked Donald Sussman for the $12 million boost needed to complete the reconstruction of Scribner Village.
"A central element to our mission is to be a residential community," Glotzbach said. "Donald understood the need to replace Scribner Village and helped move us forward to the place we want to be. Each Skidmore home will serve as a home for students for many generations to come."
Emily Sussman, an alumna from the class of 2004 and for whom Emily's Garden in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall is named, said how important her residential experience at the College was.
"When I look back, it really was about communication and the lessons I was able to learn at that pivotal time," she said, adding that when she lived off-campus her junior and senior year, she felt that she missed out on many on-campus events. She also expressed her gratitude to her father for his support, especially since he himself did not attend Skidmore College.
Emily's sister Carolyn did not attend Skidmore College, but highlighted her father's dedication to his daughters' passions as something that has been a constant presence in their lives.
"He takes our goals and passions and makes them his own," Carolyn said, pointing out that her father's devotion to vegetarian meals and to field hockey stems from his daughters' interests. "When Emily left [the College], he didn't just say, 'Okay, I'm packing up and leaving.'"
Donald Sussman delivered the final speech, speaking about how his close relationship with Emily's friends allowed him to see the residential experience of the College first-hand, which he remembered after joining the Board following Emily's graduation.
"Looking through the course catalogue is unimportant," Sussman said, referring to parents looking at their children's colleges. "What they eat and where they sleep is a really important experience."
Sussman decided to financially support the reconstruction of Scribner Village after considering many factors, including whether an on-campus residential area would still be relevant after 20 years, referencing the rise in online classes, although he pointed out that only about 10 percent of people actually finish their online courses.
President Glotzbach closed the ceremony by presenting stones engraved with "Sussman Village" to Donald Sussman and his daughters, followed by a toast to the entire family for their support in this endeavor.