Biographical / Historical
The office that today is known as Alumni Affairs developed gradually in support of the College’s growing Alumni Association (originally the Alumnae Association). Skidmore’s first Alumnae Office was formed sometime between the years of 1914 and 1927. It is likely that in its first few years, the office functioned without the benefit of permanent staff or office space. As Skidmore’s alumnae grew in strength and numbers, though, the Alumnae Office also grew, eventually requiring a staff of several full- and part-time employees. Although originally the office may have functioned rather independently, by the late 1950s it was folded into the purview of the Director of Development and Public Relations, later the Vice President for External Affairs. In 1984, the College’s administrative structure was readjusted, and the offices that have been known as External Affairs (Development, Public Relations and Alumni Affairs) were separated. While Public Relations became a new division and was renamed College Relations, Alumni Affairs and the Development Office were joined under the direction of the Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs, as they currently remain.
The Alumnae Association was formed in 1914 by “sixty Skidmore women, who drew up a constitution, elected officers, and started the ball rolling.” The Alumnae Association constitution stipulated that every graduate of the school (which was then still known as the Skidmore School of Arts) was eligible to become a member of the Association by signing the constitution and paying an annual fee of one dollar. The early Association held an annual meeting at the time of Skidmore’s commencement, which eventually became an unofficial reunion week.
In May of 1923, the Alumnae Bulletin began publication. In its first few years, the Bulletin was distributed five or six times a year to all members of the Alumnae Association, and contained information about alumnae activities and news from campus. By 1929, the Bulletin settled into a quarterly publication schedule, which in 1942 prompted its name to be changed to the Skidmore Alumnae Quarterly. In 1969, a new alumnae publication, Skidmore Scope, was introduced. In 1975, the Quarterly ceased publication, while the Scope remains the College’s official alumni magazine.
Since the early 1920s, members of the Alumnae/Alumni Association have belonged to regional alumnae/Alumni clubs. Clubs quickly formed in cities where numerous Skidmore alumnae lived, such as Saratoga, Utica, New York, Hartford, and Philadelphia. Like today, the early clubs sponsored social events and fundraising activities to benefit the College. Currently, 23 alumni clubs exist across the nation and abroad.
In 1926, the college’s Board of Trustees awarded the Alumnae Association the right to select one of its members to become a Board member. As stated in the May, 1926 Bulletin, the presence of an Alumnae Trustee on the board meant “a much closer cooperation in the future between the trustees and the alumnae in the accomplishment of their common purpose - the greatest possible good for Skidmore College.” The new position of Alumnae Trustee also indicated that Skidmore increasingly regarded its alumnae as driving force in the continued well being of the college. Today five members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors also serve on the Board of Trustees.
Since its inception, the Alumnae/Alumni Association has been governed by a Board of Directors, which was originally called the Executive Committee and consisted of a president, two vice-presidents, and a secretary/treasurer. As the alumni body grew, so did the Association Board, which now consists of 21 members in five working groups (Outreach, Giving, Volunteer Development, Strengthening the role and Identity of the Alumni Board, and Board Effectiveness). As currently stated, “the mission of the Skidmore College Alumni Association Board of Directors is to govern the association, facilitate the implementation of its vision statement, and define the goals and objectives that will enhance the image, quality, and reputation of Skidmore College.”
In 1976, the Alumnae Association changed its name to the Alumni Association to reflect Skidmore’s new status as coeducational.
Office Location and StaffThroughout the first decade of the Alumnae Association’s existence, it is unlikely that it had its own office on the Skidmore campus. It might have been allotted a desk within another office, or perhaps it was given temporary quarters in a dorm or meeting room when it was meeting on campus. The earliest published mention of an Alumnae Office was in the December 1927 Alumnae Bulletin. The Alumnae Office shared space with other offices on campus until the mid-to-late 1930s, as indicated by the Executive Secretary of the Alumnae Association in 1946:
Then years ago the Alumnae Office was combined with one of the other offices in the college. Today we have our own office, albeit somewhat cramped and lacking in the necessary equipment, and we have a full time Executive Secretary.
The speaker of the above quote was Jean Allerdice, who became the first Alumnae Secretary (and in fact the first permanent staff member hired in an alumnae-relations capacity) in 1937. Her position was later promoted to Executive Alumnae Secretary. In 1946, the Alumnae Office found itself needing additional staff, and a secretarial assistant, shared between the Alumnae Office and the Vocational Bureau was hired. Since its inception in 1925, Skidmore’s Vocational Bureau worked closely with the Alumnae Office. The Bureau collected records on all of Skidmore’s students and alumnae and offered vocational counseling and placement services to both. The Vocational Bureau has evolved into what today is known as the Office of Career Services. Career Services and Alumni Affairs now function quite independently of each other; Alumni Affairs currently has its own staff of six.
In 1957 the Alumnae Office moved from its third floor office in the College Administration Building at 28 Union Avenue to new quarters in the Alumnae House at 125 Regent Street. The house, formerly call The Lodge, had been the residence of the Vice President of the College until it was transferred to the Alumnae Office. In 1960 the office changed location once again, this time moving to 31 Union Avenue (known as McClellan House or Alumnae House), where it stayed until 1975.
The construction of Skidmore’s new campus heralded another move for the Alumni Office, which relocated to Jonsson Tower in 1975. In 1977 it moved to Palamountain Hall, and finally, in 1983, it settled into its present quarters in North Hall.