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FALL 2011





Scope FALL 2011 Volume 42, Number 1 VICE PRESIDENT F O R A D VA N C E M E N T


Dan Forbush EDITOR

Susan Rosenberg A S S O C I AT E E D I T O R


Mary Monigan DESIGNERS

Michael Malone Maryann Teale Snell WRITERS

Kathryn Gallien Bob Kimmerle Peter MacDonald Maryann Teale Snell Andrea Wise EDITORIAL OFFICES

Office of Communications Skidmore College 815 North Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 phone: 518-580-5747 fax: 518-580-5748 online: SKIDMORE COLLEGE

Main number: 518-580-5000 Alumni Affairs and College Events: 518-580-5670 Communications: 518-580-5733 Admissions: 518-580-5570 or 800-867-6007 Scope is published by Skidmore College for alumni, parents, and friends. Printed on recycled paper (10% postconsumer)


nursing white, Skidmore yellow, and lots of green


13 6 identity issues

FR E E PR ESS, OR PR ESS FR E E - FOR -ALL? From CNN and Twitter to WikiLeaks and the Times, the state of the fourth estate is a hot topic for journalistic alumni and faculty


SKIDNEWS ALUMN I THE N AN D N OW Q&A: How student-newspaper work has shaped careers, psyches, and views of today’s news media


youth sports camps



18 on press, online ON THE COVER: Being an informed citizen means navigating an open ocean of news and opinion. See page 13. (Illustration by Brucie Rosch)

10 Porters decipher Scribner

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From ecotourism branding to moldinhibiting bacteria and school enrollment trends, a bumper crop of intriguing projects engaged more than 30 faculty members and 50 students for several weeks of intensive research over the summer. Here are a couple of snapshots, with more to follow in the winter Scope.


Performance enhancement The Lake Champlain town of Westport, N.Y., is home to the Depot Theatre, the only professional theater company in the Adirondacks region. David Howson,

PROF. DAVID HOWSON, HANDS-ON IN NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT director of Skidmore’s new arts administration program, connected with its manager to work out a research gig that could help the theater while allowing him and a student to study how such a nonprofit functions within its community. He and Kate Imboden ’13 have been staying in Westport, “working hand-inhand with theater staff,” Howson says. One big job was to help organize the Depot’s annual gala, a complex fundraiser that’s crucial to its financial health. They helped convince merchants to donate goods to be auctioned, and they devised systems to manage invitations, auction bids, and donations. They say it was “like planning a wedding, but with even more stakeholders —board members, staff, patrons, vendors, donors…” Their goal is to “deline-

ate a procedure that maximizes contributed revenue.” In trying her hand at box-office and house-management work, Imboden opened new research doors. She designed a marketing survey and has been polling patrons during show intermissions. And she’s collecting data to analyze why some winners of 50-50 raffles decide to give their winnings back to the theater; so far, she’s found the larger the winnings, the less likely they’ll be donated back. She aims to “build predictors for the raffle so the theater can better forecast that revenue.” From stage production to box office to fundraising, they’re probing all the ins and outs of a small nonprofit arts organization in a seasonal community. True colors Digital cameras leave a “fingerprint” on each image they create. If a court case hinged on whether an image came from a particular camera, computer science professor Mike Eckmann and Adam Steinberger ’12 could offer some clues. As they explain it, all but the highestend cameras use color filter arrays where each pixel has just one color sensor: for red, green, or blue. The camera’s internal software estimates the other two colors from the neighboring sensors; this averaging or blending of the mosaic of an image’s pixels is called “demosaicing.” Eckmann says, “As with white-balancing algorithms and other aspects of image pro-

cessing, each model of camera performs demosaicing differently, so we think this could be a good diagnostic.” Steinberger began by taking hundreds of photos. A hiker, he gladly spent hours in Skidmore’s North Woods, “shooting the same scenes with five different cameras.” The pair also collected photos from colleagues and friends, quickly amassing a database of 5,500 images from 20-odd cameras. Using the Matlab software package, Steinberger wrote original computer code to inventory the pixel color arrangements in the image files, in both JPEG and raw format, and to analyze the relative influence of nearby pixel colors on each target pixel. That required “some very complicated code,” he says. “My first program would’ve taken eight days to analyze our 5,500 images. After I refined and optimized it, it only takes 90 minutes.” The project complements related work by Eckmann’s research collaborators at a Brazilian state university. Together with their work on different cameras’ “visual noise,” the Skidmore project is helping to perfect the science of forensic image analysis. —SR


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Teeming research teams






commencement photo gallery








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8 FATHERS AND SONS Jazz legend Dave Brubeck (center, at piano) performs with Triple Play —his son Chris Brubeck, Skidmore faculty member Joel Brown, and Peter “Madcat” Ruth—at SaratogaArtsFest. Brown’s father, clarinetist Frank Brown, also joined the group, for a double father-son reunion. The chemistry between the acclaimed trio and the venerable, virtuosic fathers delighted the huge Zankel Center audience. Brubeck the elder is a Grammy, Kennedy Center, and BBC awardee; Brown the elder was one of Reggie’s Red Hot Feet Warmers and still teaches music. The concert was a highlight of the 100-plus art, dance, theater, and other events held all over town and on campus in mid-June. —BK, SR

Don’t talk politics?


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“Socratic energy” as the most honest, humane way to interrogate and solve difficult social problems, West lamented that today “our public spaces are filled with finger pointing.” For him, success is fine but it’s not greatness; having smarts doesn’t mean having a good character. “What did Lucy Scribner say? ‘Mind and hand.’ And to that I would add ‘soul.’ I’m sure she was a soulful sister in her own way and in her own day.” Earlier in the spring, Skidmore’s Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding “PROPHETIC, TRAGICOMIC and other InterBY CORNEL WEST sections sponsors hosted a panel on national identity. Professor Jordana Dym, a historian of nation-building in Latin America, described the difficulties of uniting indigenous groups and immigrants into one CALDER WILSON ’11

emily post would gasp. Skidmore has been publicly discussing politics—and religion. It’s taken on gender, race, class, and nationality too. All were fair game in a series of campuswide conversations called “Intersections.” The series capstone was a lecture by social critic Cornel West, the outspoken Princeton professor who wrote Race Matters and other books. Promising to “unnerve” and “unhouse” the 700-plus listeners who packed Zankel’s Ladd Concert Hall and overflowed into other auditoriums, West mused, preached, argued, and fielded questions. He said “candor and courage,” even “a willingness to be wounded in the conversation,” are required in worthwhile discussions about race, class, and other identity issues. He proposed that race is really about the crucial, sometimes frightening question of “what it means to be human—that is, a two-legged, linguistically conscious creature” who is social and political and aware of mortality. He said America has become less racist but not postracial. For any democracy, he said, the key question is “What is the fundamental relationship between the common good and the vulnerable?” Yet social movements in the US have been taking on the most vulnerable instead of the most powerful. Citing

political state. Spanish professor Maria Fernanda Lander spoke about the idea of shared heritage and touched on the history of US-Mexico border conflicts. Yasmin Hormozi ’11 spoke of her Indian heritage and the prejudices she has faced. And business professor Pushi Prasad raised issues of global trade and transnational corporations. Professor Winston Grady-Willis, director of intercultural studies, describes the Intersections series as a response to “the need for a principled, substantive discussion of diversity and inclusion that interrogates BLUES,” DELIVERED racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class contradictions.” Not exactly easy or benign topics, but the sponsors weren’t fostering small talk; for them, as for Cornel West, these are topics for “dialogue, critical thinking, and engagement.” —SR

Rowers still pulling together plan is for a two-story boathouse of some 6,800 square feet, including a large training room and a separate sculling pavilion. Since the total cost will exceed $2 million, further fundraising is under way (donations can be made at, with construction to begin once all gifts and pledges are in. Impressed by the “commitment and enthusiasm” of Skidmore’s athletics director, Gail Cummings-Danson, and happy that Martha had such “a great experience” as a Skidmore rower, Margaret Valentine says, “We are pleased to be able to help Skidmore in its goal to improve the athletic program.” Tucci predicts the new boathouse “will be an inspiring venue to row from” and will help enhance Skidmore’s recruiting

of new student-athletes in the years ahead. Cummings-Danson says the facility will be “a tremendous asset for the rowing program” and notes that it kicks off a series of athletic facilities upgrades being planned, including riding and tennis projects to come.


Art major Martha Valentine ’09 enjoyed being a rower in Skidmore’s varsity crew. Called “a natural athlete and born leader” by her coach, Jim Tucci, she soon became the stroke, or pace and timing leader, in her boats. Valentine was part of the Thoroughbreds’ 10th-in-the-nation ranking in 2009, and as an alumna she’s been active in Saratoga’s community rowing program. John Onderdonk ’89 was also an outstanding T’bred oarsman, bringing national attention to a then-young Skidmore sport; he was inducted into Skidmore’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009. And he’s been a mainstay in Saratoga rowing while building his career as an architect with Mosaic Associates. Now the two are working together: Last winter Valentine’s parents, Margaret and Michael, donated $750,000 as a lead gift toward new T’bred crew facilities, and Onderdonk’s firm was engaged to design them, with advice from a committee that includes Martha Valentine. The current boathouse was constructed on Fish Creek in 1988. Three years ago its foundation was shored up and other repairs were made, but last year it was determined that more thoroughgoing upgrades were needed. The new




Decoding domesticity cited by the scandal of it.” And she arAfter she gradugues that those ornate flourishes don’t ated from Smith obscure, but intensify meaning, like College, Hellman’s garnishes on food that help bring out work in a gourmet its subtleties. food store inspired At Skidmore, Hellman designs courses her both to cook that use the Tang Museum, a wellspring and to read books of primary-source materials that she about all things gasconsiders “vital.” The Tang is “absolutetronomic. She rely one of the best things about Skidcalls, “I became inmore,” she declares. “Students love to terested in topics use the museum as a lab, and the exsuch as how and perience breaks down boundaries that when the teacup might prevent them from going to a acquired its handle museum for fun as well as learning.” in Europe, which (She also coordinates a Mellon Foundamakes it very unlike tion–funded seminar where faculty exthe traditional Japaplore creative approaches to using munese tea bowl. It seums in teaching. The program faciliwasn’t enough for tates cross-disciplinary discussions me that the objects among professors and even group visits created for this purto museums in New York City, Boston, pose were beautiful. and beyond.) I wanted to know Hellman defines connoisseurship as how their use fit “extraordinary expertise in determining into society and ART HISTORIAN MIMI HELLMAN, WITH ANTIQUE CANDLESTICK an object’s origins, style, materials, and personal identity.” HOLDERS FROM LUCY SKIDMORE SCRIBNER’S HOUSE influences,” but she says, “those facts She returned to Mimi Hellman settles into a wide updon’t answer the questions that intrigue Smith for an MA in art history and conholstered chair, wraps her hands around me: What did this mean for the people tinued at Princeton for a PhD in art and a mug of cappuccino, smiles, and sips. who used it? What did it reveal or conarcheology, which took her to Paris for An art historian at Skidmore since 2004, ceal? Who made a show of power by two years to study the Hôtel de Soubise. she is analyzing the ambience of Virgil’s, using it?” Beyond reviewing the objects and archia cozy, “shabby chic” coffee shop in Not just savoring objects as art but tecture of this grand mansion, Hellman Saratoga Springs. understanding the roles they play in scrutinized letters, memoirs, and probate “The decorative art in a place like codes of social records to imagine “SERVING COFFEE IN A TINY this tells us a lot about our cultural valconduct is “comand reconstruct PORCELAIN CUP IN 18TH-CENTURY ues,” says Hellman, who studies how plicated,” she adthe agendas of the FRANCE HAD A VERY DIFFERENT furniture, mirrors, dishes, and other domits. “But it’s cenoccupants. The MEANING FROM WHAT WE’RE DOING mestic items can reflect social hierarchy, tral to me as an art author of articles HERE AND NOW, DRINKING LARGE rituals, relationships, and much more. historian and a in professional PORTIONS FROM CHUNKY GLASS.” “Serving coffee in a tiny porcelain cup teacher, and even journals and muby candlelight in 18th-century France in my personal life, to be an astute obseum catalogs, she is now at work on a had a very different meaning from what server of detail in a world in which visubook interpreting the mansion’s “rewe’re doing here and now, drinking al acuity is relevant—that is, the world markable building, lavish lifestyle, and large portions from chunky glass,” she is visually dense, and what we see influfamily history.” explains. “Then, having coffee was an ences our values and choices.” She adds, She knows that some art historians awkward, unnatural performance, with “It’s tantalizing, once you have the articonsider 18th-century France “overly the people themselves posed as works of facts to work with, to want access to the decorated, frivolous, and decadent. art meant to please others. Here we are, whole of the period, including how it They prefer the seriousness and symkicking back, showing hospitality with was experienced intellectually, emotionmetry of ancient Greek and Roman art. big servings. Things here express openThey don’t want to study aristocrats in ally, and through all five senses.” —Helen ness and informality.” powdered wigs.” But she says, “I was exS. Edelman ’74


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EXPERT OPINION : Shopping for computers, with Bob carlton

Too many people walk in and say, “Show me what you have.” What you should say is, “Here’s what I want to do on a computer.” Then the salesperson can ask a few more questions and recommend a machine that will serve your needs. Otherwise, the salesperson may only show you the coolest or most expensive model. If you come in knowing what you need a computer for, that’ll make your shopping faster and more successful. A lot of consumers purchase with their eyes—they’re attracted to the biggest or highest-end model. But if you’re not editing high-def movies, you don’t need massive power. Or if you use online “cloud” storage, like Flickr or DropBox, then hard-drive capacity is probably not an issue for you.

Does size matter? The second thing I ask customers is “How portable do you want your computer to be?” If you’re a student walking from class to class, you don’t want a

big screen that’s awkward to carry. For e-mail and online research and writing papers, a 13-inch laptop is plenty. If you’re a graphic designer who needs a large monitor, you want a desktop model that stays in your office. For some people, the best advantage of a desktop is that it’s easy to mentally disconnect from it—you can literally walk away—but others want to feel connected wherever they go. For people who just e-mail and surf the Internet, a tablet such as an iPad is a great option. (I suspect that tablets will be the future of individual computing.) But if you’re traveling around and writing or blogging, a real keyboard might be easier for all that typing, so maybe a laptop is for you. For myself, I really like being connected; I take my laptop everywhere.

What about software? A lot of applications are included with computers or downloadable from the Internet, often for free. Doing some research ahead of time

will show you what’s available online and how it compares to what’s already inside computers. Then, when you’re at the store discussing what you want to do on your computer, you can decide if you need to buy any software at the same time.

And when the store offers one of those “extended warranties”? Buy it! I honestly believe a computer warranty is a great investment, especially for a portable. When you carry your computer around in a briefcase or knapsack, open it, close it, open it again . . . that’s a lot of handling, and parts could fail on you. I just hate to see a customer come back after a year because the computer has problems, and fixing it will cost half the price of the machine. A warranty covers you for three years. Of course, if you drop it off a balcony or spill liquid on it, that’s not “normal wear” that a warranty will cover. Also, before you buy, ask about the return policy, just in case you find you bought something that’s not right for you. Some companies charge a 10 percent restocking fee to take back a computer—who wants to spend $100 to try out a computer that you have to box up and take back? Bob Carlton has been the technology sales and Apple campus-store coordinator at the Skidmore Shop for five years; he also writes the SkidShop blog. Off-hours he’s in the rock band Dryer.


What’s the first mistake people make at a computer store?

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Interpreting Lucy Scribner The Skidmore of long ago was shared with alumni this spring, courtesy of a Reunion minicollege on the new book In Her Own Words: The Date Books of Lucy Skidmore Scribner, Founder of Skidmore College. The founder’s date books from 1916 until her death in 1931 reveal details about the school, Saratoga Springs, and the wider world inhabited by a remarkable woman on a mission. Former Skidmore first lady Helen Porter meticulously transcribed the entries and surrounded them with newspaper clippings, archival photos, and other cultural references culled from literally years of research. David Porter, Skidmore’s president from 1987 to 1999 and currently the Tisch Family Distinguished Professor in the classics department, added further context with supplementary remarks. And the two inserted explanatory notes throughout the entries. Lucy Scribner’s jottings range from the quotidian to the extraordinary. She notes the weather, her walks and errands, her dining companions, her trips to New York City and Atlantic City, and myriad Skidmore details—faculty lectures, trustee meetings, building alterations, fundraising dinners, commencement celebrations, and seemingly endless

trips to the bank for loans to fund the school’s operation. She refers to her illnesses, the hotel rooms she likes and the rare speaker or musician she does not like, sermons well delivered and friends much loved, her great affection for Saratoga Springs, and the larger sweep of historic events. For May 25, 1918, she wrote: “Saw Pres. Keyes at Skidmore. Enrolled as a voter Republican. Graduate Music Recital.” On November 11, 1918, her entry reads: “From Washington authority war over. Motored in evening parade with Pres. & Mrs. Keyes, Dean Ross, Mrs. Yetter and Annie.” Helen Porter, who devised her own system to decipher the founder’s inscrutable handwriting, was surprised and impressed by how full Mrs. Scribner’s days were. “Back then, being in your late 60s, you were old,” Helen says. “And when you see what she did, it’s all pretty mind-boggling.” And so was the Porters’ work in preparing it for publication. Once Helen starting looking through the date books in the late 1990s as part of her research into Scribner House (used by Skidmore as the president’s home), an extraordinary story quickly emerged that “cast all sorts of

light on Lucy, on the history of the College, and on the history of the times,” David says. The work grew into a comprehensive transcription and interpretation project, and they agreed to collaborate on a book. The date books from 1903 to 1915 have never been found. But should they turn up, says Helen, “I would transcribe them—in a heartbeat.” In Her Own Words is on sale at the Skidmore Shop for $25, with all proceeds supporting student scholarships. —KG


8 NEW SLANT The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company has been hailed as both fluid and effervescent, and it brought that signature fizz to its Skidmore summer residency and to SaratogaArtsFest. Along with a major ArtsFest show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the troupe’s visit included a talk with choreographer Lubovitch at the National Museum of Dance and three weeks of intensive workshops, master classes, and lecture/demonstrations in Skidmore’s Dance Center. —SR


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Golf. The Thoroughbreds went to nationals for a 25th straight season. Skidmore finished 22nd. Lacrosse. The men finished at 11-4 and qualified for the Liberty League playoffs. They were nationally ranked for most of the season, pegged at 16th in the final poll. Mike Holden ’13, Mike Perlow ’13, and Jacques Ward ’11 (at right) were honorablemention AllAmericans. First-year coach Elizabeth Ghilardi led the women to the Liberty playoffs for their first time in five seasons, with a 10-8 record. Lindsay Stavola ’11 set a Skidmore record with 51 goals and 33 assists on the season; Kimberly Segalas ’11 was the program’s all-time leading scorer, with 153 goals and 46 assists. Riding. The unbeaten Skidmore team went to the IHSA nationals, where it tied regional rival St. Lawrence for second place, behind Centenary College. Hanae Kimura ’11 and Alexandra McGuire ’11 took firsts in novice-on-the-flat classes. Baseball. The T’breds went 26-13, earning a return trip to the Liberty League tournament. Nick Laracuente ’11 was Liberty’s Pitcher of the Year, while fellow hurler Zack Rudman ’12 led the nation in fewest hits allowed per nine innings. Tennis. The women beat Vassar to win the Liberty tournament for the first time since 2000 and then advanced to the second round of nationals with a 5-0 shutout of Castleton. Rachel Loeb ’11 was Liberty’s Co-Player of the Year. The men also beat Vassar to win their eighth Liberty title. At nationals, they lost by 5-4 to College of New Jersey. Spencer Cheng ’11 won the regional ITA’s Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award. —BJ T’BRED HOTLINE. Get full results and schedules for all teams by calling 518-580-5393 anytime, or by visiting

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OCTOBER 14–16 President’s Hour Minicollege Presentations Exhibitions at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery Thoroughbred Athletic Contests Under the Big Top with talented student performers There’s more to come: mark your calendars now! For more information and a schedule of events, visit celebrationweekend, e-mail, or call 518-580-5670. For lodging and dining information, visit or call the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce at 518-584-3255.

Shifting media marketplace With bloggers, leakers, and tweeters in a journalistic free-for-all, who can you trust to report the news you need?




HEN A YOUNG Tunisian’s self-immolation sparked protests last winter, an amateur video was posted online, picked up by the Al-Jazeera news service, and broadcast widely. Within a couple of weeks, protests across the Arab world were being organized and reported through Twitter, YouTube, and other online media. Twenty years ago, those media didn’t exist, and the statecontrolled news establishments in the region would have ignored or stifled coverage of the dissidents; the “Arab spring” might have died aborning. Instead, grassroots reporting fueled regime change and reform. Independent journalism that can hold governments to account and bring truth to the people is exactly what Americans have long espoused as a cornerstone of democracy. James Madison said, “A popular government, without popu-

lar information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.” Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” English historian Thomas Carlyle credits Edmund Burke with coining the term “fourth estate,” referring to the “reporters’ gallery” as essentially a fourth power alongside the lords, commons, and clergy. In America, it’s been seen as fourth to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. That role was revalidated by the Supreme Court in the Pentagon Papers case of 1971, when it ruled that “paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.” g

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Today the fourth estate is in turmoil—some would say mortal peril. A “fifth estate” of bloggers and tweeters is leaking news and sharing opinions to call to task not just the government but the fourth estate too. The “legacy” news media are losing money in the fierce competition among so many information outlets. Citizens and Politics: A View from Main Street America, a study by the Harwood Group run by Rich Harwood ’82, found that many Americans are dissatisfied with news coverage. Shallow sound bites, sensational shock jocks, or just tight budgets may all be factors. Another, posits Skidmore English professor Joanne Devine, is the post-9/11 climate “in which patriotism is defined as blind allegiance. We saw that in most newsrooms before the Iraq invasion. The Pentagon leaked socalled news to the New York Times, which printed it too unskeptically, and then Pentagon spokespeople pointed to the planted stories as independent evidence for their arguments. It was an appalling abrogation of the fourth estate’s responsibility.” The start-up news service Pro Publica declares, “This is a moment when new models are necessary to carry forward some of the great work of journalism in the public interest.” To meet the moment, Scope assembled a few Skidmore alumni and professors to discuss a sampling of fourth-estate issues.

WIKILEAKS AS HERO OR CRIMINAL The release of confidential documents by WikiLeaks has stirred plenty of controversy recently. Its Web site argues that “increasing authoritarian tendencies in democratic governments, and increasing amounts of power vested in unaccountable corporations,” mean “the need for openness and transparency is greater than ever.” Its promise: What “institutional secrecy unjustly conceals, WikiLeaks can broadcast to the world.” It can, but should it? US government officials have called its founder Julian Assange “a high-tech terrorist.” Ron Seyb, Skidmore’s Palamountain Professor of Government, believes prosecuting WikiLeaks could violate the First Amendment but confesses that he “got a chill” when he read that the New York Times had published some early releases without redacting the names of at-risk people, making them vulnerable to political harassment or murder. Steve Rosenbaum ’83, a media innovator who’s been called “the father of user-generated video,” says leaks are inevitable in the wired world. “Information is more mobile in a network with more nodes, and someone will always have a reason to make private data public.” Of course, he allows, “if you had a boat with a leak, you’d plug it. If your boat had 10 leaks, you’d try. If your boat has a billion holes in it, you’ve got a strainer— time to learn how to swim.”

THE SOCIAL-MEDIA SPIGOT One way to look at social media is to recall social modes before any mass media existed. In a recent special report about today’s journalism, the Economist says that camera phones and Twitter feeds “echo the ways in which people used to collect and share information” in the pre-industrial past. Very few citizens owned the means of ink-on-paper production, so they forged informal


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networks across church, guild, and grange hall; they “friended” each other on a word-of-mouth grapevine, with an occasional small newsletter. Indeed Assange likes to describe WikiLeaks as being in the tradition of revolutionary pamphleteers, but the Economist points out that the Internet facilitates its “floating in cyberspace above national jurisdictions.” Twitter and other outlets are similarly free-floating—which is doubtless part of the appeal for their millions of users. The Economist cites a 2010 Pew Research Center survey showing that 37 percent of American Internet users (or 29 percent of the population) had “contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites.” And that survey predated Facebook’s “Like” button, which made it even simpler to share a post with scores or hundreds of friends. A risk noted by James Fallows in April’s Atlantic is that “a media system optimized for attracting quick hits” could be so distracting that people will find For Fast-breaking news, each problem social media have proved “harder to assess their worth—although and respond to.” “sometimes it’s too crazy Trolling such networks for and too much; i wish i could leads and using turn oFF the spigot.” “crowd-sourcing” to research large amounts of data, journalists are accepting, sometimes embracing, the eager social-media volunteers. Newspaperwoman Nancy Cambria ’87 says, “I have a Twitter account. I’ve blogged. I’ve shot video from an iPhone and uploaded it to our Web site.” Although “sometimes it’s too crazy and too much, and I wish I could turn off the spigot,” she says social media have proved their worth for fast-breaking news. Last spring it was “astounding to see how Twitter kicked into gear when the horrific tornadoes hit Missouri; it was the best way to get information in a hurry.” She is quick to add: “Does this mean traditional newspaper reporting is dead? Absolutely not. People still needed and wanted context.” She says her paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “strives to be better at synthesizing and contextualizing the news than the competition.”

WHO NEEDS PRESS CREDENTIALS? In any society, who controls the flow of information is a critical issue. In America, the old-guard press—respected big-city newspapers, the original three TV networks—have spearheaded state and national “sunshine rules” and transparency policies, often through long, expensive court battles. Cambria’s feature stories can take months of Freedom of Information Act requests, not to mention careful interviewing of troubled parents and children who would never agree to speak with her, she suspects, without her Post-Dispatch credentials. At-home bloggers and tweeters don’t have the same wherewithal. Can they be part of a fourth estate? Journalist Juleyka Lantigua-Williams ’96 cautions, “Tweeters can help lead journalists to a story, but too often their posts are treated as stand-alone reports without any serious investigating.” English professor Michael Marx says lone bloggers and tweeters “have no editors to guide them, often rely on secondary sources, or may not have the experience or connections to know which experts are best to quote.” Lantigua-Williams blames the 24-hour news cycle for driving reporters to cut corners, perhaps not probing their sources’ agendas or not bothering to corroborate an anonymous source, in the rush to be first to break the news. Jay Jochnowitz ’78, an editor at the Albany Times Union, says professional journalism “isn’t learned by regurgitating and opining on other people’s work in one’s pajamas; mentoring doesn’t come from the anonymous cheers or jeers of commenters on one’s blog.” A degree in journalism is not requisite. Cambria has “worked next to lawyers, divinity school grads, a former cattle rancher, a college dropout, and an ex-stripper. All became good journalists. But they didn’t get there by just declaring themselves reporters one day.” Steve Rosenbaum recently saw an even more varied press pool: “At the World Trade Center memorial site in May, I stood among more than 100 ‘credentialed’ reporters as President Obama laid a wreath on the site. It was quite a motley bunch—bloggers, folks with Flip cameras, international crews, radio reporters, and some folks who looked like they might have been homeless. It must be hard for the White House to figure out who’s a legitimate journalist and who’s a kook.” In the mixed-media world, the Economist observes, the news “emerges from an ecosystem in which journalists, sources, readers and viewers exchange information.” Harnessing “horizontal media,” people themselves serve as broadcast networks. The

States News Service, summarizing a lecture by Emily Bell of Columbia University, reports, “As priorities in journalism shift, user interface and accessibility is becoming as important as editorial content.”

FOLLOW THE MONEY As newspapers have hit the financial skids, both they and alternative news businesses are seeking ways to make journalism a going concern. Take the six-year-old Huffington Post, an all-online news service that aggregates other news providers’ content, curates it after a fashion, and posts it with links and comments. Its traffic rivals the New York Times’, though its staff is roughly a tenth its size, according to the Associated Press, which also reports that, between its growing advertising revenues and its low infrastructure costs, HuffPo turned a $30 million profit last year. Michael Marx notes that not everyone has a computer with Internet access. “There’s still a digital divide that stratifies us, and if your local city newspaper has to close down, what sources are left?” He recommends broadcast radio. For the most part, well-reported Web news can’t be provided free of charge indefinitely, and he’s doubtful about the partial pay walls for accessing the online versions of newspapers: “I think too many people will be content to read just the free portions and not pay for more thorough coverage. Or, since the Internet is built on redundant sites, they’ll go find the same shortened reports on or other compilation sites.” Marx also says, “I bristle when I hear National Public Radio using the BBC or newspaper reporters, rather than doing its own reporting. Big staffs are expensive, of course, but borrowing others’ work limits the range of perspectives in the news.” As Pro Publica explains, profit worries make it hard for media companies “to afford—or at least to think they can afford—the sort of intensive, extensive and uncertain efforts that produce great investigative journalism.” Along with straitened resources and staff layoffs, many have been coping with mergers and consolidation. (Even the Huffington Post isn’t immune: it was purchased by AOL early this year.) That consolidation is what worries Joanne Devine most. “With cable TV and the Internet, we have more news outlets, but that doesn’t mean more diversity, because so many are controlled by so few corporations. That’s not ‘the invisible hand’ of the marketplace at work; government agencies have been complicit. I saw a striking graph tracing the number of media-company owners decade by decade, g

THE EDITORIALISTS Nancy Cambria ’87, reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, specializing in issues of family and society

Michael Marx, English professor, scholar of rhetoric and composition, writing and technology, news literacy

Joanne Devine, English professor, scholar of second-language learning, sociolinguistics, global media communications

Steve Rosenbaum ’83, user-generated-video innovator and CEO of, documentary filmmaker, formerly founding producer for Broadcast: New York, MTV Unfiltered, Camera Planet

Jay Jochnowitz ’78, longtime journalist at the Albany Times Union, former state editor, now editorial-page editor Juleyka Lantigua-Williams ’96, syndicated columnist for The Progressive Media Project, former managing editor of Latino magazine

Ron Seyb, Palamountain Professor of Government, scholar of American presidential administrations and US politics

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1970s, such as redistricting that and that line plunged sharply “carved out safe Republican and starting in the mid-1990s, when Democratic districts” so that the FCC was facilitating so much each party’s primaries now serve consolidation.” Devine argues as “forums where ideologues dethat the big owners “share a corbate moderates,” Senate filiporate culture and set of values buster rules and House commitamong themselves, but not with tee structures that make it hard their audiences. Their bottom to contain “the more inflammaline isn’t public service; it’s sharetory members,” and “a ceaseless holder profit. In that model of money chase that compels canjournalism, fewer voices can afdidates to seek support from ideford to stay in the game.” ological groups.” In her view, if news media are Jochnowitz does see a media “driven by corporate agendas, role. He concedes that the exthat makes for journalism withradio and tv “debate-a-paloozas tremes of politics have “always out a soul, and without a future.” been prone to selective facts, She’s interested in the alternado nothing to elevate the lies, and incendiary rhetoric, but tives proposed by Robert Mcdiscourse.” meanwhile, even this seems to be creeping closer Chesney and John Nichols in “standard” tv news oFten to the center.” To avoid any The Death and Life of American Feeds sensationalism whiff of perceived bias, he says, Journalism: The Media Revolution today’s most circumspect media That Will Begin the World Again. on a subtler scale. resort to “he said, she said” reThe book suggests more philanthropic and even government support of media, as with the porting. With popular opinion so evenly split on many issues, BBC and the Guardian in England and PBS in America. those media also blanch at the prospect of alienating half their Cambria says government involvement in the free press audience, so they “make them all feel their side had its say, “sounds creepy,” and philanthropic funding raises red flags without any ‘judgment,’” Jochnowitz says. Take, for example, too. She praises Pro Publica but calls for “close scrutiny of who reporting that gives the same weight to one expert speaking for is funding some of these start-ups, especially the more local thousands of climate-change scientists as it gives to one nonones.” Jochnowitz has been following the online Texas Tribscientist speaking for a fringe of climate-change deniers—it une, “which doesn’t seem to be carrying anyone’s water so far,” “blurs the lines between opinion and fact.” and a handful of such outlets are cited in the Economist report Now add the Web’s power of propagation. “The written for their nonprofit status and also their express focus on politiword, especially a simple declarative sentence, has always had cal, civic, and accountability journalism. Whether its budget is the ring of truth,” he says, but when a sentence is posted and beholden to commercial advertisers or charitable foundations, retweeted by thousands of like-minded Web users, it’s soon perJochnowitz figures “a widely diversified base of support can inceived as hard, established fact. “This is why I love sites like sulate a paper from too much fretting or susceptibility to a sudPolitifact and Snopes,” which try to fairly evaluate the truth of den loss of sponsorship.” assertions, (mis)quotes, hoaxes, and legends. In the welter of facts and opinions, the Economist accounts FACTS, LIES, FLAMES for the popularity of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and scores of Don’t forget, says Steve Rosenbaum, that America has a long other strongly, even wildly conservative news commentators, history of biased journalism, starting with its first political paralong with liberal partisans like Rachel Maddow and comedians ties, which each had their own newspapers, and continuing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, this way: “Consumers are with “press barons” like Democrat William Randolph Hearst overwhelmed with information and want to be told what it all and Republican Joseph Pulitzer, up to the unabashedly consermeans.” No wonder Fox is not the only news outlet “that is unvative media mogul Rupert Murdoch today. As the Economist afraid to say what it thinks and is prospering as a result.” explains, impartiality became a journalistic tenet in the 19th Seyb says talk-radio’s and cable-TV’s “partisan debate-acentury for business reasons (wider audience appeal meant bigpaloozas do nothing to elevate the discourse.” Meanwhile, ger circulation and ad revenues) and then as part of the profesDevine argues, even “standard” TV news often feeds sensationsionalization of journalism during the early 20th century. alism on a subtler scale. “In the early days of TV, you had a Has journalism become too polemical again? Ron Seyb quessolemn anchorman at a plain desk, to lend gravitas to the tions the question; he believes it’s not the media that have ponightly news. But now the screen is full of loaded images— larized America in recent decades. If it really is more polarized, maybe an American flag in the background, maybe a colorful he says, he puts it down to political changes since the midheadline.” With the ubiquitous emotionally charged music, it


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can get almost cartoonish. Haste is partly to blame, she says. Audiences have come to expect such instant coverage that “news gets aired before it’s been carefully digested. There’s a scramble to frame the story quickly in a simple, dramatic way.” The more outlandish shows, Seyb is relieved to report, actually have very small audiences. He quotes a 2010 Pew survey indicating that the three legacy networks’ nightly news shows reach almost 22 million viewers, “roughly four times the combined number watching each cable news channel’s highestrated program.” News viewership has been shrinking, but more slowly for the broadcast networks than for cable. Given that most citizens are pretty much centrists on most issues, Seyb suspects “those lost viewers aren’t moving to ultrapartisan blogs: I hope they’re retreating to the Web sites of reputable newspapers and periodicals.” In any case, for many online-media advocates, impartiality is not necessarily the gold standard; transparency is. WikiLeaks’ Assange has argued that, just as a physics paper includes the raw data and results it’s based on, a news report should include full citations or links to its sources. Technology-and-ideas thinker David Weinberger has blogged, “Objectivity is a trust mechanism you rely on when your medium can’t do links. Now our medium can.”

select out of the real world and into niches populated only by similar, and perhaps similarly misinformed, people.” Jochnowitz says older folks have their own naïveté. “Four of my pals—a maintenance worker, a former journalist now in public relations, a retired colonel who was a Pentagon liaison to the White House, and a PR and education veteran—regularly fall for ‘amazing’ photos or stories on the Web that they e-mail to me, which I send back with Snopes links to gently correct them.” Rosenbaum recalls a study trip to the USSR in his student days: “I was hanging out with a reporter for Pravda, drunk on a Moscow sidewalk. He said, ‘You Americans believe what you read in the papers. We Russians know how to find the truth by reading between the lines.’ I never forgot that.” Jochnowitz hopes that “in their heart of hearts people know there are still news sources with integrity.” Unfortunately, he says, “those sources have been so vilified as the ‘mainstream media’ by politicians and pundits that people are losing trust in them.” He muses, “Which is more dangerous to our republic: the lies, or the distrust in legitimate news sources that they breed?” One good sign, according to Marx, is that the recent controversies around Assange’s leakers and Murdoch’s phone-hackers made such big news. He says it proves that “at least people are interested in these issues of journalistic ethics. They’re having the conversations.”

CAVEAT EMPTOR, LECTOR, AUDITOR... With or without source links, Nancy Cambria says, “I think MAD, MAD, MULTIMEDIA WORLD most news consumers are hungry for information and are willThe success of venues like the Huffington Post—with its repacking to take steps to find credible sources of news.” But profesaged news, original reporting, volunteer bloggers, and links gasors Devine and Marx, as well as columnist Lantigua-Williams, lore—may presage a hybrid journalism that will function as the who teaches writing at a community future fourth estate. As the Econocollege, protest that they have to mist points out, Al-Jazeera draws on work hard to instill those discrimistables of trusted amateurs, and nation skills in their students. CNN’s iReport network numbers Marx’s students “often arrive some 750,000 volunteers who subwith a certain naïveté. They’re used mit photos, videos, and written acto watching or reading a big-name counts. In fact, iReport sourcing for news source like CNN or the Times, coverage of last spring’s Japanese and they think those are always obearthquake and tsunami helped jective and trustworthy. In class we CNN win its best ratings in years. compare different stories on the Rosenbaum predicts that “fundsame event or issue, so they can see ing sources will emerge to support how different the coverage can be.” new journalism, and user-generated Lantigua-Williams’s students have a news will never replace professional weakness for “using information reporting.” The evolving alliance (regardless of the legitimacy of its may be fraught and dicey for some source—damn you, Wikipedia!) that time to come. Undaunted, Nancy aligns nicely with their personal Cambria concludes, “The barrage of point of view and experience, which new sources, legitimate and not, “the barrage oF new sources, to them is the ultimate barometer of has been challenging, frustrating, legitimate and not, has been validity.” Tailoring one’s informadisorienting, and exciting. The ethtion input is made even easier, she ical issues are intense. But ultichallenging, Frustrating, notes, by handy podcasts, custom mately, we are being given more disorienting, and exciting. the news feeds, and social networking. material to do our jobs and do ethical issues are intense.” It can get “to the point that we selfthem better.”

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THE VERY FIRST SKIDMORE NEWS hit campus on October 9, 1925. Today it’s still going strong both in print and online. For many SkidNews staffers over the decades, working on the paper was a “peak experience,” like summer research, study abroad, or other life-shaping college endeavors. A former editor remembers spending 35–40 hours a week on the paper. Another says the peer mentoring of older students on the News staff got him “dialed in” to investigative research even more than some of his classes did. One staffer found it “stimulating and inspiring” to share the


English major Editor-in-chief, Duxbury Clipper Quincy, Mass. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE

NEWS? Newsroom culture. We were authorityquestioning punks who loved stirring the pot and tugging on the administration's cape. DID YOU PLAN A JOURNALISM CAREER? I worked for a theater and

freelanced to make extra cash. I got burned out backstage and started doing more writing, and that blossomed into my career. I had thought it would be the other way around. I learned that I hated sleep and liked getting yelled at by sources enough to do it professionally.

newsroom with “smart, spectacular people who took themselves and their work seriously.” And a shy science student was “completely transformed as an individual” by the leadership experience of managing the News. Where are they now? All over: they’re doctors and lawyers, designers and marketers, land conservation leaders, banking analysts, and, yes, journalists. Below, Scope turns the tables on a few of them, interviewing the former interviewers. (For their full answers, go to


sources, fact-check everything, don’t accept the press release, and never stop digging for truth. CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? When we say “print media,” we're

usually referring more to the type of writing than the paper it's printed on. Comprehensive beat reporting, tough, dogged investigative work—that’s essential for a free society and should never go away. Might ink and pulp be replaced by a tablet? Not only likely, but probable.


Government major; JD, Suffolk University Law School Publisher, Clipper Press (incl. Duxbury Clipper) Duxbury, Mass. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS? I joined in my freshman year. The paper had been shut down as a result of turmoil between the former editor

DID THE NEWS AFFECT CAMPUS LIFE? We covered a harassment incident just before Parents’ Weekend, and an administrator removed all the papers, thinking it would protect them from embarrassment. Students got upset, the campus rallied behind us, and we were able to kick-start dual conversations about censorship and tolerance.

p ac t m i e on thnd now t c e l ni refsm then a m u l ws a journali . EDELMAN ’74 e N e or tudent NS –73) m HELE , 1972 d i R Y B O k s T I S their WS ED RVIE EWS INTE RE N IDMO (SK


and the Student Government Association. I was excited about its “rebirth.” Growing up in a newspaper family, I had familiarity. I was quickly given responsibilities.


My time at the News ranks near the top of my formative experiences in becoming the chief judge of an appellate court. It helped with self-confidence, writing, leadership, and management skills; I am sure it helped me get into a top-tier law school. It was one of my best college experiences.


pendent study to get credit. I was spending 35 to 40 hours a week on the News. Without the academic credit, I don’t think I’d have been able to pull it off. WAS THE NEWS HIGHLY REGARDED?

I’m proud that we won a number of Columbia Scholastic Press Association awards during my tenure.

HOW DID IT AFFECT YOUR VIEW OF THE MEDIA? While I suppose it helped me understand how difficult it is to be a journalist, that doesn’t make it any easier to tolerate the garbage that passes nowadays as news reporting. WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A STUDENT INTERESTED IN JOURNALISM? It’s intellectually gratifying but impractical as a job; however, working on a school newspaper is an invaluable experience, and for students who like to write I would urge them to do it.

ASHLEY MORRISON ’06 WAS THE NEWS INDEPENDENT? Fiercely. I can’t recall the adminis-

tration ever trying to interfere. The college relations office was cooperative and respectful, as was then-President David Porter. I still have a note he sent, thanking us for raising the level of the paper.

Philosophy and religious studies major; MS, emergency management, Millersville University Radiological-hazards planner/trainer, Lancaster Emergency Management Agency Lancaster, Pa.


WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS? I wanted to become more active

Four years after graduation, my grandfather passed away. Someone needed to run the family newspaper, and the job fell to me. My News experience was unequivocally the best training—that could only have come from hands-on experience.


CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? I read more and more on my laptop or iPad. Still, I think the future of newspapers remains bright. The future of printing presses is another matter.

Students had freedom to write what they wanted, as long as arguments were researched and presented fairly.



Government major; JD, University of Pennsylvania Chief judge, Colorado Court of Appeals Denver, Colo.

shadowed a campus-safety officer. Law enforcement officers do not get the respect they deserve.


WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS? I love to write. I went from head-

line writer to reporter to news editor to editor-in-chief. It was fun, stimulating ... and frustrating when you couldn’t get the story or when a staff person dropped the ball.


per, and my experience at Skidmore in general, encouraged me to think critically and always ask “why?”


editorials as editor-in-chief. I also loved the point-counterpoint opinion series we started.


is to inform about all issues, even those that could cause backlash. All media have an agenda, explicit or implied, so I am a strong proponent of alternative news sources and distrustful of mainstream media. g

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The advice column. CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? Nothing beats the physical sensation of holding a book and turning pages, or working on a crossword with a pencil.


Environmental studies major Technical editor, URS Corp. engineering/construction firm; former newspaper reporter and fishing-lodge caretaker Anchorage, Alaska WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS?

SkidNews was the launch and early driver of my time at Skidmore. The editors saw potential in me and asked me to write. They shaped the rest of my college career as well as my life. DID YOU PLAN A JOURNALISM CAREER? I did, and a hometown publisher advised me that journalism school taught you to dot I’s and cross T’s and that a wellrounded liberal arts education offered more breadth. DID YOUR NEWS WORK AND ACADEMICS INTERSECT? On Sunday

nights the editorial staff would talk about anything from global politics to music, then write a concise essay on that topic. Monday we doled out stories. Tuesday we wrapped up the editing and started layout. Wednesday it was common to be in the newsroom past 2 a.m. Thursday was theoretically the day off, though often I would find myself in the newsroom. Thursday through Saturday were the only days to focus on class work. I was more fully engaged in the process of running a News section than in most of my classes.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS? I came to Skidmore as an introvert. My first two years were focused on my major and a few friends, and I was extremely unhappy. But in my junior year I got involved with the Student Government Association and other groups, and my grades improved, my self-esteem shot up, and I had a lot more fun. In my senior year I took on the editor role to expand my nonscience skills and interests. HOW DID YOUR NEWS WORK INFLUENCE LIFE AFTER GRADUATION? My

primary focus was managing the staff and the assignments and interacting with various groups, which was stimulating, frustrating, and inspiring. This experience completely transformed me as an individual. DID YOUR NEWS WORK AND ACADEMICS INTERSECT? The knowl-

edge I gained from academics introduced me to my career options. The confidence I gained with the News, SGA, and other groups gave me the courage to pursue my career, and to modify it to better suit my personality and other skills and strengths. WHAT’S THE FIRST NEWSPAPER SECTION YOU LIKE TO READ? Sorry

to say, none. I don’t have time. CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? Print is a waste of money and resources. Electronic is definitely more cost- and time-efficient, for producers and consumers.


Philosophy major; MA, MPhil, PhD, philosophy, Columbia University; JD, Columbia Law Associate professor, Cornell Law School Saratoga Springs and Ithaca, N.Y. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS?


At for the SkidNews I was once accused of misquoting someone, and that led me to buy a digital voice recorder. After that, I could respond with more than just my word against theirs.

The power and responsibility of a campus newspaper. I saw the need for a fourth estate separate from student government, faculty governance, and college administration.


Biology and women’s studies major; PhD, molecular biology, University of Iowa Project manager, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Consortium, Yale School of Medicine New Haven, Conn.


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Good journalism should keep those in power a bit off balance. We didn’t let anyone review copy before publication.

after graduation, but ultimately I decided to engage in issues as a scholar.

rusty, but I really enjoy writing again. This is the best job I have ever had, in part because following the news closely is part of it.



When I was editor, a nationally known Holocaust denier sent us an advertisement, and instead of running the ad, we launched an investigation into Holocaust deniers who were targeting college campuses and student newspapers. The issue raised questions about history and memory, uses and abuses of academic freedom, and the role of the academy in political discourse. Our investigation grew so large that we published a 24-page supplement, distributed to college libraries across the country. That experience sparked a lifelong interest in the philosophical and legal implications of war and atrocities and the possibility of using criminal law for redress. I am now a professor of international law specializing in genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

ble and to hold other people responsible.

DID YOU PLAN A JOURNALISM CAREER? I was a Saratogian reporter


The front page, of course! Then op-eds, dining, and arts. I only glance at sports. CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? I tell my year-old daughter I’m reading a newspaper but someday she might wonder why the word “paper” is attached to “news.” She has no idea what I’m saying; she just wants to eat the paper. It’s one of the best parts of my day.



national news, legal news, and restaurant reviews.

Government major; JD, New England School of Law; LLM, JAG Legal Center Judge Advocate, US Army Trial Defense Service Alexandria, Va.


American studies major; MA, American political history, University of Pennsylvania National programs manager, National Constitution Center Philadelphia, Pa. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEWS? After my fourth-grade teacher

assigned the newspaper as homework, I started following current events with serious interest. I started at the News by covering sports. It was motivating to be around people who took themselves and their work seriously—and who were fun, interesting, hard-working, smart, spectacular people. It was also thrilling to have a byline. DID THE NEWS AFFECT CAMPUS LIFE? Ab-

solutely. I remember a story on the failure of recycling at Skidmore, and people talked about it. I wrote an editorial on the death penalty that I was very proud of. The paper was well respected and very much a part of daily life. Still, I am pretty sure some people laughed at how seriously we took ourselves. HOW DID YOUR NEWS WORK INFLUENCE LIFE AFTER GRADUATION? It deepened my interest in the world around me. Currently, I write for the National Constitution Center’s new blog. I am


The campus was incredibly apathetic. I was interested in getting people talking about issues and contributing to the discussion of world events. DID THE NEWS AFFECT CAMPUS LIFE?

My purpose was to spark discussion. I can’t say the campus was ever abuzz because of anything I wrote, but I would see letters to the editor regarding my comments, so some students were willing to engage. Faculty and administration always have been interested in the student viewpoint, so as far as the News helped to develop or report that viewpoint, the paper contributed. DID THE NEWS CONNECT YOU TO THE COLLEGE? I still read the Skidmore News as an alum. Thanks to new technology, a bigger staff, and better emphasis, overall the paper is clearly more involved and more advanced. I would have to believe it is better regarded now than in the ’80s, and I concede it deserves to be. CAN PRINT MEDIA SURVIVE? Unfortunately no. The problem is that any idiot can start a blog and call himself a journalist. Newspapers are accountable, and that helps maintain professional standards. Bloggers have caused a lot of harm. I prefer to read newspapers.

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Reunion photo gallery















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Reunion photo gallery (continued)















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college life way back when


Deposited on a railroad siding by a mail train, a Skidmore student walks through a small town on a cold March day. She’s eager to meet her off-campus study mentor, an artist in the scenic Hudson Valley. But she soon discovers the artist has been called out of town and has arranged for her to study instead under another artist. The student trudges to that address, only to be told that this artist has fallen ill with pneumonia. Hours from Skidmore, with no tutor and no place to stay, now what? “That was the worst moment of my Skidmore years,” says Priscilla Douglas Polkinghorn. It happened in March of 1931. And she still recalls it vividly. The 103-year-old member of the class of ’31 marked her 80th reunion this spring. She couldn’t travel from California back to campus, but she celebrated in spirit— and by sharing some Skidmore memories through her son Frank. Polkinghorn chose Skidmore partly because a neighbor in Montclair, N.J., had studied there. She also knew it had a strong arts program. Her grandfather’s boyhood friend was Charles Warren Eaton, a well-known artist who encouraged her in her own art and gave her several of his paintings. She did major in art, and a senior-year honors program allowed her to spend a month focused on painting in the artists’ colony of Woodstock, N.Y. The town was

so small that there was no commercial by myself to study art in Paris for the transportation to it—hence the mail car. year following graduation.” It impressed Left on her own in rural Woodstock, her only sibling too: Barbara Douglas Polkinghorn first took Macmillan also chose a room at the Cash Skidmore, graduating Dollar restaurant. But in 1944. the men who lodged Polkinghorn spent there got up before half her Skidmore dawn and made noise, time involved in art so she found a room in but was “surprised a farmhouse. She reand delighted by the calls, “It was unheated breadth of the liberal but had a vent from arts half” of her eduthe kitchen below. The cation. She was a tub in the bathroom member of the Outwas unused in the cold ing Club and still remonths, so the landmembers “getting lady brought me hot written up for singing water every evening to too loudly in a Skidallow me to wash. more truck coming The landlady’s son WHEN THE CINEMA HAD TROUBLE back from an Outwas making maple ing Club activity.” PRESENTING THE NEW TALKIES, sugar in her barn, She says it was a STUDENTS “SHOUTED FUNNY and outside my fellow club memCOMMENTS,” AND THE OWNER room a maple tree WARNED “THE SKIDMORE GIRLS” ber who gave the dropped sap into a group’s Adirondack TO BE BETTER BEHAVED. metal bucket all Mountain lodge its night long. The son’s house was being name, Skid-irondacks. renovated, and a house painter was stayIn Saratoga, when the local cinema ing there, but he said I could use it as a didn’t know how to show the new talkies place to paint.” She made the arrangeproperly, sassy students “shouted funny ments work. She says, “I painted outside comments during the showing.” The and had three meals a day at the Cash owner told President Henry T. Moore that Dollar.” She also remembers another “if the Skidmore girls were not better beartist in the neighborhood: “He was frehaved, they would not be welcome in his quently drunk, theater.” After her junior year Polkingand I was afraid horn and a friend used their knack for of him. When words to write a play as a summer assignsober, he was ment. In the fall Professor Stanley Saxton afraid of me.” wrote music for it, and the show was Polkinghorn staged and recorded. (Much later son says she learned Frank Polkinghorn found the recording from the Woodand sent it to Skidmore’s music departstock adventure ment for the long-retired Saxton, who “that I could was still living near campus.) take care of myThese days Polkinghorn not only reself under very calls her past but also follows the youth trying circumculture, staying in touch with greatstances. This grandchildren via Skype, the popular convinced me, video-phone computer application. Clearand my father, ly Skidmore’s lifelong learning ethos has PRISCILLA POLKINGHORN ’31 USES SKYPE TO SHARE GREETINGS WITH that I could go stuck with her. —SR HER GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN ON HER 103RD BIRTHDAY.

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Nine alumni and three others were honored at the Reunion awards ceremony in June. For full profiles of them and their accomplishments, visit reunion and click on “Alumni Award Recipients.”


Distinguished dozen

Distinguished Achievement Award Terry Thomas Fulmer ’76 is an authority on geriatric nursing. Currently dean of New York University’s School of Nursing, where she holds an endowed faculty chair, she has led the national Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training Project and Nurses Improving Care to Health System Elders program. She was the first CERAMIC GIFTS, CREATED BY PROF. REGIS BRODIE, AWAIT THE ALUMNI AWARDEES. nurse to be president teas and juices, winning a BevNET bestSaratoga resident since 2000, she has of the Gerontological Society of America in-show award. Honeydrop, carried by been active in Saratoga Reads and the and to serve on the board of the AmeriWhole Foods Markets and other retailcity’s Preservation Foundation. The socican Geriatrics Society. She was elected to ers, donates some proceeds to beekeepology major fondly recalls “the fun of the National Academy of Sciences’ Instiing groups, to help learning from incredibly caring, knowltute of Medicine. AN AUTHORITY ON GERIATRIC combat the loss of edgeable, and accessible faculty and the Recently, as a SkidNURSING AND CURRENTLY DEAN native honeybees wonderful broad curriculum they more trustee, she OF NEW YORK UNIVERSITY’S as crucial pollinataught.” She says her volunteering is a spearheaded a new SCHOOL OF NURSING, tors. Luks also adway of giving back. program to help SHE WAS ELECTED TO THE vises the I’m Too Skidmore students NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES’ Young for This outstanding Service Awards complete nursing INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE. cancer foundation. As a freshman, Steve Cornell ’81 led the degrees at NYU. effort to transform men’s ice hockey 50th-Reunion Service Award from a club sport into a varsity team. creative Thought Matters Award Jacki Jung ’61 has been a class fund chair When budget cuts threatened the proDavid Luks ’96 is the founder and CEO and Friends of the Presidents chair and a gram in 2002, he rallied former teamof Honeydrop Beverages. A former marreunion fundraising expert, helping her mates and others in raising funds to supket researcher at ACNielsen, PepsiCo, class to provide a five-year professorship port all T’bred teams and a reinvigorated and his own consultancy, he was diagand several student scholarships. She has Friends of Skidmore Athletics. nosed with cancer and began researching served on the alumni board, national Sandy Lipson ’71 has been a career the health benefits of honey. Soon he FOP Committee, and other groups. A networking volunteer, the alumni launched his line of honey-sweetened


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board’s chair of career and professional development, and a coach and organizer for a range of career events for students. She is also a member of the Tang Museum’s National Advisory Council. With five classmates, she helped found a social and health nonprofit in Ghana. Ellen Rein Goldin ’61 has served both admissions and development. She has been a national advisor and volunteer for Skidmore’s fundraising campaigns and Friends of the Presidents, and she was on the Admissions Task Force. When son Spencer ’93 was at Skidmore, she joined the Parents Council and the board of trustees. She and her husband established an endowed scholarship fund last year. Sandy Linen Halsey ’56 and her husband—parents of Wendy ’82, Anthony ’87, and William ’89—co-chaired the Skidmore parents always show their support in a big way. Last year Parents Council. She was also active in parents gave more than $1 million to the Annual Fund—gifts that regional Skidmore clubs in New Jersey strengthen the educational experience for all students. and Connecticut and has been class president, reunion chair, and fund chair, Support Skidmore’s Annual Parents Fund among other roles. Contact Ann Dejnozka, director of family leadership giving: Joan Agisim Odes ’66 has worked on or 518-580-5635 all her class reunions from fifth to 45th. She has been a class agent, president, fund chair, and Friends of the Presidents tion to her alma mater. Becoming a helping establish the Hall of Fame and chair, as well as a member of the Retrustee in 1978, he soon led his family key FOSA events that unite alumni, union Giving Program Advisory Council. in creating the Filene Music Scholarcoaches, and current athletes in new Among her extensive volunteer and ships and Filene guest-artist programs. collaborations. He is now playing a key friend circles she counts the classmates When the Zankel Music Center was role in developing Skidmore’s athletic of daughter Naomi ’94. being designed, he helped secure supfacilities master plan. Mike Sposili, director of Skidmore's port for its Helen Filene Ladd Concert alumni affairs and college events office, palamountain Award for Hall. On the board’s Student Life Comfacilitates alumni engagement through Young Alumni Achievement mittee, he always stayed in close touch Reunion, the Jessa Blades ’01 is a pioneer in the ecowith students and A MAKEUP ARTIST WHO HAS Friends of Skidbeauty movement. A makeup artist who their concerns. In RESEARCHED SAFER COSMETIC 2007 he received more Athletics, rehas researched safer cosmetic ingrediINGREDIENTS, SHE CONSULTS gional gatherings, ents, she founded Blades Natural Beauty the board’s prestiFOR NONPROFITS LIKE career networking, in 2008, providing makeup in the fashgious KemballTEENS TURNING GREEN travel programs, ion and beauty industry. Blades consults Cook Award. AND WAS ONE OF GLAMOUR’S and the Skidmore for the nonprofits Teens Turning Green Proud father Jim “70 AMAZING ECO-HEROES.” Connect online soand Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Ricker, with wife cial network. Sposili worked with alumni often appears in and Whole Joyce Benedict Ricker ’69, supported leaders to establish the Colton Alumni Living, Natural Health, Organic Spa, and Jason ’91, Justin ’96, and Evan ’97 as iceWelcome Center, the Skidmore Athletics Elegant Bride magazines. In 2009 she was hockey and lacrosse players. When the Hall of Fame, and the Skidmore Business one of Glamour’s “70 Amazing Ecohockey program was nearly axed in Network, among other initiatives. Heroes.” She says Skidmore encouraged 2002, he marshaled major funding in her to combine psychology, art, business, two months, reviving not just the hockHonorary Alumni and sociology. “My professors taught me ey team but the Friends of Skidmore The son of benefactor Helen Filene Ladd that everything was connected, and I Athletics. He and Joyce co-chaired the ’22, Bob Ladd shares his mother’s devotook them up on it.” —MM, SR FOSA Committee from 2003 to 2007,

There’s an easier way for Skidmore parents to make a lasting impression.

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challenges spur fundraising success PHIL SCALIA

tives, and church members. In the end, 675 alumni and parent volunteers helped put the Momentum Challenge over the top. Terry Thomas Fulmer ’76, chair of the trustees’ advancement committee, made the announcement during Reunion. The final tally was 12,622 donors. Their gifts, and the $1 million challenge gift, are already supporting financial aid, summer collaborative research, student internships, and other crucial programs.



“With only a month to go, in April we were still short of last year’s donor numbers, let alone our goal for the year,” recalls Nancy Hamilton ’77, the VP for annual giving on Skidmore’s alumni board. But she helped rally and expand the volunteer network to raise more than $6.65 million for Skidmore. Others also rose to the challenges of the 2010–11 giving year, setting new records on the way to a $27 million total. creative challenge When the goal gets ambitious, the ambitious get creative. For alumni from the ’90s and ’00s, rising to Skidmore’s $1 Million Momentum Challenge meant some fierce and friendly interclass competition. To help reach the target of 12,500 donors making gifts of any size by the end of the giving year, and thus earn an extra $1 million gift from the anonymous group of challengers, class leaders rallied their classmates to see which class could hit the highest participation mark. “We’re all at different stages of our lives,” says volunteer Craig Hyland ’05. “Some of us are in grad school, some just married, some having kids. It was diffi-


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cult to find messages that would resonate with everyone and remind them how relevant Skidmore still is in their lives.” The contest in his decade was a close race as the May 31 deadline loomed; 2006 and 2008 were leading by a nose. But Rebecca Blum, Jason Del Pozzo, and he led their fellow ’05ers to a top finish, with 30 percent making a gift. In the ’90s, it was the class of ’92—sparked by volunteers Jill Richardson O’Brien, Jennifer Rose Savino, and Andrew Hughes—that triumphed, with 27 percent donating. As class fund chair and Friends of the Presidents chair, Virginia Miller Lyon ’47 started fast, sharing ideas in volunteer conference calls and encouraging her classmates early and often. Her efforts led to an 82 percent participation rate, the highest of any alumni class. Her powers of persuasion even inspired gifts from more than 50 of her non-Skidmore friends, rela-

Friends oF presidents’ levels First 1–4 years


After 5–9 years


After 10–14 years


after 15–19 years


after 20 years or more


Annual Fund record The Momentum Challenge played a key role in setting a new Annual Fund record: the 2010–11 total of $6,669,548 was Skidmore’s largest ever. Another starring role was played by the class of ’61, whose members gave a $1.5 million 50th-reunion gift that included a record-breaking $439,418 for the Annual Fund. And the graduating seniors again took part—led by Jared Greenbaum ’11 and Alex Stark ’11, they raised $5,150 toward a scholarship for a rising senior in the class of ’12. Skidmore’s always remarkable Annual Parents Fund accounted for an unprecedented $1.6 million last year, with $515,706 coming from families of the class of 2011. Parents Fund co-chairs Cathy and Scott McGraw (their daughter is Carolyn ’12) proudly report, “Our fellow parents gave most readily, in a terrible economy, and outpaced last year’s total by 26 percent.” Cathy says, “It was important to have the participation of so many at all giving levels.” Being actively involved in a community of “wonderful parents who believe so strongly in Skidmore’s mission has been greatly rewarding for us.” presidential mettle More than $5 million of the Annual Fund’s total came from gifts at the Friends of the Presidents level. A new scale for Skidmore’s more recent alumni



drew 35 brand-new grads into the giving Major gifts society, reports Judy Allen Wilson ’69, Among the notable one-time gifts this the alumni board’s FOP chair. Craig Hyyear, nearly $750,000 was received from land and his fellow young-alumni comthe estate of Professor Emeritus Henry petitors also saw their FOP ranks exGalant, a leading light of Skidmore’s pand. (The FOP scale now starts at $100 government department from 1954 to for alumni in their first four years after 1986. He and his late wife, Eleanor, had graduation and rises stepwise to $2,000 donated to book funds in Skidmore’s lifor those 20 or more years past their brary, and their friends and colleagues graduation.) had named the Galant Reading Room Wilson knows that for them, so it was no another FOP key is surprise that his bequest “peer-to-peer asks” included $145,000 for by class volunteers, the Galant Book Fund. As so she got a list of former provost Dave alumni in reunion Marcell, remarks, classes who might be “Henry’s warmth and willing to fill vacant concern for students and posts as their FOP his energy in the classchairs, and she startroom were legendary.” So ed dialing. Calling it’s also no wonder that from her West Coast Galant specified some time zone “to reach $480,000 for the Galant alumni on the East Scholarship Fund, an enPROF. HENRY GALANT ARRANGED Coast whom I’d dowment to generate stuHIS WILL TO PROVIDE LIBRARY never met was a dent aid in perpetuity. FUNDS AND STUDENT AID. challenge,” she says, Marcell adds, “Henry per“but it was wonderful when I got a ‘Yes!’ sonified what it meant to be a Skidmore I was able to enlist new FOP chairs for faculty member.” several classes.” Wilson’s reliance on Another $750,000 came from parents Skidmore aid during her student days Margaret and Michael Valentine, as lead bred her commitment to ensuring that funding for a new boathouse. They say Skidmore can keep providing the same being a Skidmore rower was a great exopportunities to future students. perience for their daughter Martha ’09,



and they wanted to support the crew program for years to come. Their gift is the largest to an individual athletics program in Skidmore’s history. For more on the boathouse plans, see page 7. For boathouses, scholarships, or dayto-day operations, Hyland speaks for many donors when he explains, “Skidmore means so much to us that helping raise funds is a small way to show my gratitude.” —SR

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Summer benefits shine

SCOTT STEWART AND DEDICATION WIN THE $10,000 HUNTER DERBY AT THE SKIDMORE SARATOGA CLASSIC. Hundreds of riders, trainers, owners, and spectators—including many alumni— turned out for the Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Show. This summer the two-week national “AA” sanctioned event featured a new $25,000 Rolex/USEF grand prix in show jumping, a $10,000 jumper classic, and a $10,000 USHJA international hunter derby. Proceeds from the horse show support scholarship awards for Skidmore students—nearly $3 million to date. The “Polo by Twilight” gala added about $200,000 to the Palamountain Scholarship Fund, which aids nearly 20 students each year. More than 500 guests enjoyed sunny skies, gourmet food, high-goal polo, and lively auctions—front-row, finish-line boxes at Saratoga Race Course inspired big bidding, as did a share in a West Point Thoroughbreds racehorse won by Ken Freirich ’90 and a week at Disney World claimed by Mary Lou Whitney and John Hendrickson. Skidmore’s seventh annual Thoroughbred Cup in June drew 115 golfers and 25 tennis players. With more than a dozen sponsors, the Friends of Skidmore Athletics event raised over $30,000. Steve Cornell ’81 won the Outstanding Service Award, and athletics staff member Megan Buchanan was named MVP. The winning golf foursome was Fran Murray ’05, Reed Juckett ’06, Bill Trainor ’05, and Mike Stiller ’06. Tennis winners were Peter Sharpe and Christine Gale ’04. —SR


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Floating party: More than 100 alumni, from the classes of ’79 through ’12, gathered in June for happy hour at the Pier 66/Frying Pan bar and restaurant in Manhattan. They ate, drank, and mingled in a reserved section as the sun set over the Hudson River. The venue is situated on a ship and barge docked on the Hudson. The Frying Pan is a historic lightship that was abandoned and sank in Chesapeake Bay, remaining underwater for three years before being raised and restored. In 1989 the rebuilt ship sailed to New York City, where it now sits beside Maritime, a former railroad barge that still hosts a caboose. “I certainly enjoy the opportunity to attend club events like theater or music performances, or programs like wine tastings,” says participant Vicki Tisch ’94. “But the free-form happy hour events are my favorites. Seeing old Skidmore friends and making new ones—just getting together with fellow grads in a relaxed, social atmosphere—can’t be beat!”—PD

business mentors welcome “Serial entrepreneur” Ken Freirich ’90 has launched an annual business-plan competition (see to help Skidmore students build their own businesses. If you’re an alum with start-up savvy to share, apply now to advise a student in the upcoming 2011–12 contest, e-mail Prof. Roy Rotheim,, to learn more.


Where to next? Alumni, parents, and friends of Skidmore can experience first-class educational opportunities to world-class destinations with the Skidmore College Alumni Travel Program. When you think of travel, think of Skidmore first! TANZANIA: AN ULTIMATE SAFARI February 9–21, 2012 (with Union College) MYSTERIES OF THE MEKONG: CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM March 1–14, 2012 CRUISING ALASKA'S GLACIERS & THE INSIDE PASSAGE June 21–28, 2012 WATERWAYS OF RUSSIA August 19–29, 2012 PARADORES & POUSADAS: HISTORIC LODGINGS OF SPAIN & PORTUGAL October 22–November 5, 2012 (with Union College) For details, visit Questions? Call Alumni Affairs & College Events at 518-580-5610 or e-mail


Wish you knew more about the college admissions process? Skidmore invites high school juniors who are the children of Skidmore alumni or employees, and siblings of current students, to attend the 2012

Junior Admissions Workshop January 29–30 on campus Look for full details soon at or call Alumni Affairs and College Events at 518-580-5610.

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SEATED DIGNITARY? Do you recognize the national figure sitting in the chair at the right? What was she doing with these Skidmore students, and when? If you have an answer, tell us the story at 518-580-5747,, or Scope c/o Skidmore College. We’ll report answers, and run a new quiz, in the upcoming Scope magazine.



Gone fishin’? Andrew Nolen Pfeifer ’10 is betting this depicts water sampling in Loughberry Lake, the main reservoir for Saratoga Springs. He also bets the researchers are lowering a patterned Secchi disk to gauge the depth of visibility—which translates to turbidity—of the water. He even takes a stab at the photo’s vintage, guessing 1998. (Pretty good: it was actually shot in 1995.) Pfeifer’s only question: “Where are they going with that suitcase?” And, he adds, “Why didn’t I get to bring a fishing pole when I did this work?”


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For John Thomas, professor emeritus of chemistry, this quiz is “way too easy!” He recognizes David Porter, Skidmore president from 1987 to 1999, riding along in the bow with summer collaborative researchers Hillary Frey ’97 and geosciences professor Dick Lindemann. Thomas says they were on Loughberry Lake to develop a project for a Skidmore environmentalscience course. For spotlights on student-faculty research from this past summer, see page 3 in this Scope. —SR


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BEST PIZZA IN SARATOGA. REALLY. Ask about local pizza, and recommendations come flooding in. White or red, thin or deep-dish, New York or woodfired—each has its fans. There is no arguing: De pizzabus non est disputandum. Two Saratoga stalwarts with legions of devotees are Pope’s on Washington Street and Marino’s on West Circular. Anthropology professor emeritus and serious foodie Gerry Erchak says Pope’s reminds him of pizza he enjoyed growing up in northern New Jersey. He says, “I also like Marino’s—a gooey, oily, umami-producing thing that is sui generis.” (Umami is the Japanese “fifth taste”: meaty savoriness.) Bill Jones, Skidmore’s sports information director, is loyal to Marino’s “traditional pizza with real mozzarella cheese, made the same way now that it was 25 years ago.” But wait, says Scope’s associate editor Paul Dwyer ’83: Don’t forget Caputo’s in Wilton’s Home Depot plaza. “It has wonderful thin-crust pie and Long Island-style garlic knots, hard to find around here.” Caputo’s also offers specialty pizzas such as shrimp scampi and chicken marsala, all beautifully displayed on its Web site. D’Andrea’s, a student favorite on Caroline Street, has a Facebook page full of photos that reveal a willingness to toss anything onto a pie (You want fries with that? You got ’em!). I couldn’t resist getting a chicken-bacon-ranch delivered. It was a tasty combo atop a somewhat sweet crust. Students love Esperanto on Caroline Street—it’s “a Skidmore tradition,” says Robin Adams ’00 in the leadership activities office. They also like the Spring Street Deli and Clinton Street’s Amore, the latest incarnation of the venerable Pink Store. Classicist Michael Arnush favors Giacone’s on Lake Avenue, as well as Harvest and Hearth on Staffords Bridge Road at the Fish Creek marina opposite Skidmore’s boathouse.


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Giacone’s is a friendly neighborhood pizzeria and deli; a large pie with sausage, mushrooms, half green peppers, and half eggplant is our regular home-delivery order. Harvest and Hearth offers artisanal, wood-fired pizza with local organic produce and clean meats (it had me sold with its nitrite-free maple and fennel sausage); Skidmore’s info-tech help-desk manager Brien Muller appreciates its gluten-free options. On Broadway, Max London’s line of wood-fired pizza is favored by English professor Sarah Goodwin for its great crust and fresh toppings. Go on Wednesdays to pay just $9 for the generous individual pies, including one with speck (a lean German bacon), tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, and arugula, or with shrimp and chorizo, mahon cheese, romesco crema, and fresh chilis. Also on Broadway, Forno Bistro serves up gems like the “Margherita,” with crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, a favorite of Skidmore librarian Ruth Copans. For a white pizza, try Forno’s “Rosalina,” with roasted pear, garlic and herbs, gorgonzola, brie, and mozzarella, topped with arugula and a balsamic reduction. Saratoga has its share of chain pizza joints, but Mama Mia’s— on Route 50 south of downtown—is not one of them, its name notwithstanding. Jeanne Sisson, administrator for Skidmore’s board of trustees, finds it “close to ‘real’ New York pizza with its thin crust.” New this summer, Capriccio Saratoga on Henry Street promises its own take on Neapolitan pizza by legendary Capital District restaurateur Jim Rua of Café Capriccio in Albany. His emphasis is on fatta in casa—food made or grown on the premises. Whether it’s from a pizza shop mentioned here or not, most residents and visitors have found their “best pizza in town.” No arguments from me. Mangiamo. —KG


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Scope Fall 2011  
Scope Fall 2011  

Skidmore College alumni magazine, Fall 2011