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Glotzbach to step down as Skidmore president in summer 2020

Glotzbach to step down as Skidmore president in summer 2020

The college made the announcement Monday
Glotzbach to step down as Skidmore president in summer 2020
Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach speaks during the 2014 commencement
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach plans to step down from the job at the end of next school year, the college announced Monday morning.

Glotzbach, the college's seventh president, took the role in 2003 after serving as a vice president at the University of Redlands in California. He shepherded Skidmore through a financial crisis, an expansion of student housing, a diversification of the student body, a growing and increasingly-competitive applicant pool and the ground breaking of a major integrated sciences complex. 

"With 15 years behind us and a bright future ahead of us, I set forth a new challenge," Glotzbach said in a note to the Skidmore community Monday. "Let us rededicate ourselves to developing the bright, ambitious young people who are the leaders for tomorrow our world so desperately needs."

In a release announcing the decision, which Glotzbach finalized with the Board of Trustees during its Februrary meeting, the college noted Glotzbach led the development of two strategic plans, an increase in the college's financial aid budget and a diversifying students and staff. The trustees has been aware of Glotzbach's intention to leave at the end of next school year, according to the college statement, and a national search for the college's next president is expected to start soon. 

Glotzbach's departure will come at a time of changing leadership at colleges and universities across the region. Union College President David Harris took over in September after former President Stephen Ainlay retired after a dozen years at the helm; University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez is in his second year; SCCC President Steady Moono is in his fourth year. Fulton-Montgomery Community College will also be searching for a new leader over the coming months. 

Glotzbach, who after RPI President Shirley Jackson is the second longest-serving college president in the region, oversaw construction projects to expand student housing, renovate a dining hall and construction of the Arthur Zankel Music Center. During Glotzbach's 15-year tenure, the college has invested more than $150 million in campus facilities, and Skidmore's endowment has more than doubled under his stewardship. 

"President Glotzbach's exemplary leadership over the past 15 years has strengthened Skidmore in every aspect, from the introduction of new academic program and the first-year experience to enhancing the college's commitment to financial aid, and the construction of several impressive new facilities that have increased the vitality of the college's living and learning environment," Board of Trustees Chairman W. Scott McGraw said in a release. 

A philosopher by training, Glotzbach has emphasized the college's motto, "creative thought matters," and sought to strengthen the connection between the science and traditional liberal arts, culminating in the new science building, a $127 million project that started construction last spring.

In his public statements and addresses to students, Glotzbach has emphasized the important role liberal arts colleges play in developing students who ask, and seek answers to, the hard questions in all fields. 

"The project of going to college, and asking the big questions, takes courage, resolve and persistence," he told the college's freshmen as they started their time on campus in the fall. 

But Glotzbach in recent years has also lamented the degradation of shared facts and intellectual integrity in society, highlighting the dangers of relying only on sources of information that reinforce already held beliefs.

"The problem we encounter today with society's previously respected sources of knowledge is that we are forced to place our faith in something, and that something has increasingly become a certain set of political commentators and regions of the internet that simply reinforce what we already believe," he said during Skidmore's 2018 commencement.

In a note welcoming students back to school this semester, Glotzbach wrote that the "liberal arts values we hold in esteem have faced challenges on many fronts in recent years" but promised Skidmore "remains steadfast in its commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive college community."

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