Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project

Interview with Terrence Diggory

Dublin Core


Interview with Terrence Diggory


Zoe Ousouljoglou




Ousouljoglou, Zoe '20


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Zoe Ousouljoglou


Terrence Diggory


Lucy Scribner Library


ZO: Okay it's now recording, so I am interviewing Terrence Diggory on February 16th at Skidmore College. So um when did you come to Skidmore and what year?

TD: I came to Skidmore in the fall of 1977

ZO: Okay um What initially drew you to Skidmore like why did you (sic) why you choose here?

TD: Um Well they gave me a job so that was (sic) that was a good start but um also ah I had knew the college by reputation, I was interested in ah teaching at a Liberal arts college and had actually visited here um in the past uh thinking of it as a possible place to work but um we had come here because Saratoga was a summer resort we had come through on a vacation and um Ihad seen the college which was then still down town uh and um was interested in the place so it sounded like a good place to come 

ZO: Mh um so you came here when Skidmore was down town in on broadway?

TD: Well uh actually most of the campus the new campus as it was then called where it is now had been completed but there was still some uh departments that were located I think especially the art department still on the down town[00:01:33.240] campus and there were still some dormitories functioning downtown. 

ZO: Okay um so when did the campus actually start to move onto um where it is now?

TD: Well in the uh as I said I came the end of the 1970's and the move began at the beginning at the 1970's I believe it was basically that decade that was the main time of transition. 

ZO: Did you notice um any change sort of change - obviously the setting was different but um - did it effect how people were teaching or?

TD: Well I was here really with the new campus so I wasn't aware of uh what it was like teaching on the old campus although I heard from colleague who had that experience um about about differences. The classrooms were um and faculty offices were basically a lot of them in old converted houses um so for instance it was very easy um for um uh a faculty member or department chair [00:02:46.953] uh to kind of listen in on a class because there wasn't too much insulation between in the old walls of the old buildings. Um and of course the fact that the um college was right there in the middle of downtown Saratoga meant that there was a lot more natural integration between campus life and uh town life than there was once the college moved up to the broadway campus 

Zo: Um is that something - so moving up has lost being integrated within the Saratoga community to that extent - um do you think that is something that [inhales] I am not too sure. Um can you speak a little bit more on that? [laughs]

TD: You mean what effects it had?

ZO: Yeah

TD: [00:03:56.100] Well I think um uh it is it certainly made Skidmore and Skidmore students uh less of a presence um in the community. Events that were held on campus for instance were just again less visible to the community. Um So I think there was an initial sense of separation um although both Skidmore and Saratoga springs were smaller places at that time so they so they continued to have an affect on each other which was somewhat different from uh what it is now. So for instance family weekends were a big event for the town um because it brought families that would come to downtown restaurants and while that's still um a moment and you will still see signs up saying welcome to Skidmore parents in uh down town restaurants that is not as much an event because for downtown Saratoga just because there is so much else happening [00:05:06.100] in the uh downtown community. 

ZO: Um when did your daughter come to Skidmore? [00:05:19.232]

TD: Um well my daughter actually um took some skidmore class while she was finishing up high school but she had only been employed at skidmore for uh the past three years um so its a recent appointment for her. But she grew up within the town so in terms of relationships between town and the college she was apart of that.

ZO: So you guys um when you moved to when you started teaching here you moved to Saratoga as well?

TD: Yes yep yep 

ZO: Did you feel integrated into the Saratoga Community even though you were teaching at Skidmore? [00:06:06.100]

TD:  Um only gradually actually it was - my community was essentially the Skidmore community that was a little bit different for my wife who became involved for instance as our kids started going to school she became involved in the local schools uh we also got involved in a church down town and so through that we began to make community connections. But I would say you know in terms of our social life for instance we um it was pretty much determined by our Skidmore friends more than people that we knew from the Saratoga community.[00:06:51.100] 

ZO: Okay. [pause] Um can you think of any sort of specific instances where um being in Saratoga and Skidmore sort of either worked together or like helped you in an instance or hindered you in any way? I'm not too sure 

TD: So examples of interaction or lack of interaction?

ZO: Yeah 

TD: Between the college and community. Um [00:07:29.033] Well an interesting controversy um that um has surfaced from time to time in relationship between the college and the community has been the issue of voting. Um the town although again demographics are changing, but um the the town has a tradition of being oriented toward the republican party and uh Skidmore students um although they are diverse as well brought more democratic voters and so uh the issue of allowing Skidmore students to vote locally um became controversial uh and um there was a there had been student movements to get um a voting location on campus to make it easier for students to vote and sometimes that has been resisted um by the uh local community.[00:08:46.100] again because they resented undue influence among skidmore students in the elections. I've been involved in that um from both the community angle and the college angle because as a number of the Skidmore community. I was concerned that Skidmore students had the right to vote and if they wanted to vote in the local election that was also their right and but also I have been involved also on the fringes of the democratic party in town and so wanted to um open up the elections to skidmore voters from that perspective as well.

ZO: You said that it has sort of been a flaring issue. When did it start?

TD: Uh I am an english professor so I am not very good on dates but as I say it has happened from time to time when there have been elections and especially when the elections have been uh contentious it has been more of an issue. I think in recent elections it has settled down I think the it has pretty much understood that there will be a voting place at Skidmore. 

ZO: Um you talked about the students movements. Um was it organized strictly through student government or were professors getting involved?

TD: Well both, there uh were uh Skidmore student who led the appeal to get voting on campus uh but that was also supported by Skidmore faculty but I would say that it was largely student led from the campus standpoint. But then again there were members of the Skidmore community - some with skidmore contacts and some without skidmore contacts, who were sympathetic to the student interest in voting and worked with the city government and the board of elections to make sure that student right to vote was recognized 

ZO: You said that you were involved with both the students and bot the Saratoga community, how did you really, you were part of the democratic party, but how did you get involved with that 

TD: Again really just uh to offer a sympathetic voice um to have conversations with members of the democratic party in town to make sure that they were aware of student interests and to help them to the extent that help was necessary in representation the interests again with the board of elections. So I said I on the fringes on that - I was very much on the fringes but i tried to lend a sympathetic voice when I could.

ZO: Okay, and then the so the council or committee that you were apart of that I saw in the [Saratoga] Coffee Traders what exactly is that doing?

TD: So currently i am involved with something called the Saratoga Immigration Coalition. And this has evolved out of concern increasingly and especially after the election of President Trump um with the issue of immigration and the status of immigrants um in the Saratoga community. And its a coalition in that it doesn’t have so much of a centralized origination as it is a clearing house  or ideas as it is place for volunteer opportunities from a number of organizations. So it represents faith communities, civil organizations such as a group like Saratoga Unites. and just individual show are interested in being involved. that has involved skidmore in so far as Skidmore faculty and students have been interested in similar issues and uh have been able to provide recourses for helping to educate the local community on issues of immigration. So right now there are at least 2 possibly more courses about immigration being offered on campus this semester and we have also been in touch with student affairs at Skidmore so for instance when there was the decision by the President last September to end the program called DACA the support for young people who had come to this country at an early age and had been granted special status under President Obama's executive order when that was a limited there was a window for registering or renewing registration under DACA and we helped to notify folks at Skidmore about opportunities or workshops if there were students who might be affected by that and local workshops where they could get more information about that so again it is the sharing of information and a mutual effort to educate advocates and educate the community about issues related to immigration. 

ZO: How has um how has the effort to engage with the community gone? Is it? [00:14:58.482]

TD: Well I think it has gone well again this is an issue on which the community uh is very divided there are some people who are very sympathetic to immigrants regardless of their legal status. It is an economic issue so that employers are concerned about losing their workers when um there are crackdowns on undocumented immigrants in the area. But on the other hand there are a number of conservative voters in the area who feel that undocumented immigrants are illegal period and they should not have a place in the country and they would approve when they immigration customs enforcement of ICE arrest undocumented people in our community and uh beings the process of possible deportation. So um it is an ongoing debate um but I would sya that there has been certainly a strong voice for support that has been gathered through the efforts of the Saratoga immigration Coalition and other support groups like that. 

ZO: Also on the committee there is also Mary-Ann who is also a graduate of Skidmore um 

TD: Sorry 

ZO: Mary ann.. the 

TD: Oh who you also met 

ZO: Yes yes so she is a graduate of Skidmore as well.

TD: Maryann [Halloheen? Unsure of spelling]

ZO: Do a lot of the Skidmore alumni get involved with the community afterwards? 

TD: very much so, yeah, I think that a lot of Skidmore students come to really like the Saratoga area and think about this as a place where they would like to pursue a career or raise a family and um so skidmore students do [00:17:27.855] many skidmore students do settle in the area or as the case of Maryann who you mentioned after being some time away come back in retirement and those folks um have been both involved in community activities and then because of their ties to skidmore they are a good opportunity for linking what is happening to the community to what is happening on campus. 

[brief pause] 

Zo: Do you have [laugh] um [brief pause] I am not too sure what to ask right now [00:18:22.957] [ruffles with papers] Is there anything else just broadly that you can think of interactions between Saratoga community and skidmore. Maybe specifically with alumni how they feel about um how they feel about settling in the area afterward being Saratoga students and being actually in the community. 

TD: Well alumni relations I think again as with everything else relating to the college have evolved over time and we talked earlier for instance about the change from the old campus to the new and that was a challenge for alumni relation because naturally alumni identity with the spaces that they knew as students and when we built the entirely new campus that meant that a lot of alumni lost that connection to those places that they knew. So that was a challenge although I think what it did was to place eve greater emphasis on the not so much o the relationship to places as the relationship to people uh so alumni relations have remained strong in terms of the friendships that were built over time. [00:20:10.000] there have been a lot of other changes not just with regard to other changes. but again with regard to the  relationship between the college and the Saratoga community I mentioned earlier college events and the college with the opportunity of the new campus has included some major facilities that have made a big difference in offering events that the larger Saratoga community have been involved in so two examples of that would be the music building with the new wonderful large recital hall and the tang museum as well. So both of those facilities have made it possible to offer programing on a scale and of a type that are new for the college and that very much invite members of not only Saratoga immediately but the wider area of  from Glenn’s Falls down to Albany. I mean just as a simple example [00:21:30.168] the Filene recital hall has a capacity that is much larger than any other space that Skidmore had of available in the past so that means physically we just able to accommodate that many more people from the community at events and that has been a big change. The presence of the Tang Museum has in terms of the type of programming that is available to offer, its really established itself as a major arts venue for the wider region its known in the arts world its developed major ties with the arts work in new York City um and that too has brought a lot of visitors from the area. So growth like that in hat the college is able to provide for the campus community has meant a lot for the wider community as well. And I think really helped to strengthen relationships between the college and community. 

ZO: [00:22:55.000] [brief pause] How do you - so the different buildings and how they are able to invite people in from the community in and from skidmore as well - Do you think that Skidmore student think it is necessary to engage with the outside community? or is it sort of not really 

TD: Well it is different to generalize about Skidmore students but I think that Skidmore students have certainly shown interest in engaging with the community and that has been expressed in a variety of ways. The college has put a lot emphasis on internships that is practical experience and not just classroom experience and obviously the local community is a good recourse for offering good opportunities for such internships. the college also in terms of the values that it wants to promote has also emphasized the importance of community and service and again the immediate opportunity for that is in the Saratoga community, so in addition to um course related internships that have been canceled through departments the office of student affairs also has a volunteer office that helps students who are interested to identity what kind of volunteer opportunities there are in the community so a number of service oriented projects in the Saratoga community have benefited from the work of skidmore students. And I know that is for the case again going back to the Saratoga immigration coalition that I work with a number of the service providers that work with immigrant communities have benefited form the volunteerism of skidmore students so that has been a good thing [00:25:30.000] to see i think it is positive for the community obviously but also in terms of the educational philosophy of the college it is certainly helped to find an outlet for that philosophy. 

ZO: Um are there other ways that you would really like to see the Skidmore student body get involved with the community?Is there any way you think that is lacking or needs like more emphasis

TD: Well i think the in terms of the types of ways are already identifies I am satisfies with the range of opportunities that have been identities I guess I would only say in terms of quantity. I would like to see more Skidmore students take advantage of those opportunities and to get involved and then to bring back that experience into their course work and again just make connections between academic study and the real world experience that that kind of volunteer activity makes possible. 

ZO: Um [00:26:45.000] [brief pause] Do you think that there is  way to um encourage the quantity of the student body to get involved is there um I’m not sure. Um like what way would you try and entice students to get involved even more than they are now

TD: Well I prefer in terms of encouraging students involvement I prefer enticement and excitement rather than requirement um so I am general dubious of creating a set of requirements that it might get people engaged in body but not so much in terms of mind or spirit so I think whatever we can do spread the word that um there are these opportunities and that they are rewarding opportunities. I mean one simple way to do that would be providing more occasions for students who are involved i the community simply to report on that to fellow students say this is what I have been doing its been a really exciting mind opening expanding opportunity for me and that kind of report will i hope encourage more students to get involved. So spreading the word i think especially on a peer to peer network [00:28:47.462] I mean its one think for a professor or a community member to say you skidmore students should be involved in this but if the students are saying this to themselves that s what is going to be really most meaningful. So i hope that will - i know its happening already but i hope it will spread. 

ZO: Okay we are done it has been 30 minutes [end of the actual interview]

TD: Good Okay 

ZO Thank you so much I just want to make sure I don't have to say anything else. Yes okay I am going to provide you with a copy of this and I will send this to you either over email or I can get it onto a flash drive whatever you prefer and then it will be up on the Saratoga memory project and it will be transcribed and everything. 

TD: Great thank you so much, Good luck 

Original Format


Record Creation Date




Ousouljoglou, Zoe '20, “Interview with Terrence Diggory,” Skidmore Saratoga Memory Project, accessed September 22, 2018,

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