Creative Thought Matters (CTM) is confusing, ambiguous, and overused. Skidmore’s motto does successfully reach across campus, but it does so not by a strong understanding and integration in academic settings but through appearances on posters for photo and video contests, stickers, and T-shirts.
CTM does appear in some aspects of academic life; the MB107 class is an unusual way business students are exposed to all aspects of the department from day one. Students in English and studio art courses are encouraged to take creative risks, even if it means possibly jeopardizing the academic evaluation of the piece. Despite these integrations, though, students can’t help but make fun of the slogan.
As a student, you have certainly heard CTM but you probably don’t know what it really means. The Administration often asks students to define it, through essay contests and the like. We feel disoriented because students were not even involved in the process of choosing the motto, but students are being asked for ways to justify its applicability.
Creative Thought Matters feels like the least challenging way to encapsulate the meanings it aims for. Despite the accessibility of ‘creative,’ the word seems excessively easy, to the point of being ‘dumbed down.’ Thought is inactive in the sense that it does not reference deliberate action, and ‘matters’ barely underscores the gravity the motto acts as though it has.
Although some of us would prefer a more traditional, serious motto, other members felt that the unconventional nature of CTM matches an offbeat student body. Despite this disagreement, there is no question that the phrase is a mockery on campus. Although it is made fun of CTM does not seem to inhibit Skidmore’s goals. The endowment has doubled under President Glotzbach, and application numbers are climbing. CTM might not be the reason students are applying, but it isn’t keeping prospective students away either.
At this point, CTM has already cost Skidmore a great deal of energy and money in terms of branding and marketing. It is unlikely that the slogan will change in the near future, and we do not necessarily feel that it should. But more can be done to integrate creativity in our everyday lives on campus. Skidmore should stop using the term as a precursor for nearly every administration run program or contest, but instead invest on integrating creative projects and courses into the curriculum. Less frequent use of CTM would help solidify its meaning by focusing and attaching it to successful, well known programs instead of trivial contests.