This past Friday, the Skidmore College faculty gathered in Gannett auditorium for the college’s monthly faculty meeting. Beau Breslin, Dean of faculty and Vice President of academic affairs, led the meeting this week due to the President’s absence, starting off by discussing his recent visit to Trinity College for the Northeast Dean’s Conference. This conference brings chief academic officers together from liberal art colleges to discuss new ideas colleges are implementing, problems schools share, and practices that are successful at schools that others could learn. This meeting focused on Title IX and shared governance, and it became apparent that compared to peer-aspirant schools, Skidmore is doing very well.
Some of the success that Skidmore is experiencing includes an overenrolled class, more applicants, and the school is receiving more money. Some practices done though were questioned, such as having faculty meetings on Friday afternoons instead of the middle of the week to ensure that all faculty attend the meetings. Some other ideas from the conference included consolidating committees into one academic affairs meeting for faculty to attend and help faculty move forward, and changing department chair authorities to make a more successful department.
Dan Rodecker, Nancy Bruno, and Jane Kjager all received shout-outs from Vice President Breslin for the behind the scenes work they do to make the school function. Dan was recognized for overseeing most facilities, including many sustainable initiatives. Nancy is from human resources and was recognized for her successful 28 years at Skidmore, and Jane from Scribner Library was recognized for her work in reserves, circulation, and special collections.
Mehmet Odekon, chair of the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) covered two proposals to the faculty that would clarify wording in the faculty handbook. One of the amendments included inserting the heading “the council” to the faculty handbook, enabling the section under revision to apply to a large group of faculty.
Kim Frederick, a chemistry professor, spoke about the planned center for integrated sciences that is in the process of being formulated. They showed a video of the building that highlighted its facilities, demonstrating the plans that have been constructed over the past 10 years. The planned construction would include a gut renovation of the Dana Science Center and an addition to the building where Harder Hall is. The project is planned to begin soon, however the school is still waiting on more pledges from donors. So far $32 million has been raised, but there is a lot more money needed in order to complete the job.
CEPP, the committee on educational policy and planning, began a discussion about the curriculum, putting up three questions for faculty to vote their support of lack thereof. Questions included whether student requirements should change based on individual backgrounds (if the student already speaks another language, should they need to take a language course?), should students be assigned reflective essays outside of class throughout their time here, and how to best advise students in the most constructive way.