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Transnational interests

By the time he was in college, Eric Drotch ’93 had long been fas- cinated by Israeli society and culture. “I had been to Israel twice as a teenager and just became enamored with the place,” he says. A sociology student at Skidmore, he found he wanted to formalize his interest in a more scholarly way. Skidmore at that time had only one class that addressed

Drotch’s passion—“European Jewish History.” So with the help of two faculty advisors, Michael Marx in English and Spencer Cahill in sociology, Drotch took advantage of Skidmore’s open- ness to self-determined majors and created his own degree pro- gram in Hebrew and Israeli studies. He spent a semester at Tel Aviv University and wrote his senior thesis on how Israel’s rela- tionship with the US influenced the kibbutz movement. After graduation, Drotch returned to Israel and worked on two different kibbutzes for a few months. “It was the real-world experience of what I had studied,” he says, noting that gov- ernment support for the cooperative com- munities waned as the country continued to tip toward a market-driven economy. Back in the US he sought a new direc- tion. He worked as a substitute teacher, and then as a development officer at Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He also took some painting classes that rekindled his strong interest and aptitude for art. In 2002 he moved to Philadelphia and earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. (Among his exhibitions in recent years was Skidmore’s alumni art show during Reunion 2008.)

“The self-determined major helped me look at myself a little more closely and bring together a set of goals for myself.”

“I am the quintessential liberal arts person,” Drotch says. And

now he’s found a professional position that allows him to con- tinue developing, and integrating, his diverse interests. He is an art teacher at the Peddie School, a boarding academy in New Jer- sey. There he’s working to start an exchange program with the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem; he plans to take students on a visit next spring. He says, “The position at Peddie has brought together many of my professional interests: art, edu- cation, nonprofit development... I even coached crew for the past five years.” (Drotch was a Thoroughbred oarsman at Skidmore.) His is an unusual career path to be sure, but he says it started with the flexibility he found and exercised at Skidmore. “The self-determined major helped me look at myself a little more closely,” he says, “and helped me bring together a set of goals for myself.” It’s an approach to life that he’s continued since gradu- ation, pursuing his interests and striving to synthesize them into meaningful and rewarding work. —Jill U. Adams

Civic and cultural multitasking From dawn’s early light when she hits the treadmill, throughout the day steering a growing arts organization forward, and into the night in pursuit of diverse cultural experiences, Cathy Krayer Kimball ’80 is always on the move. “I don’t have much free time, but I love everything I’m in- volved with,” says Kimball, executive director and chief curator for the past decade at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. The vivacious, versatile Kimball—who has played the violin since fourth grade and who was a member of the Skidmore Orchestra —keeps pace with a personal agenda of awesome range. She par- ticipates in events and meetings supporting opera, ballet, theater, symphony, the American Association of Museums, Rotary Club, and more; serves on the boards of the Tech Museum of Innova- tion and the Convention and Visitors Bureau; plays hard with family and friends in Tahoe, Yosem ite, and Seattle; and has acted as a court-appointed advocate for a young man in the foster- care system.

In a life devoted to stimulating the vi- brancy of her community and the arts through civic and professional zeal, Kim- ball has created a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. She aims to balance her home, work, and public domains, carving moments to write in her journal even while she’s mounting multimedia in- stallations in an art institute whose new, permanent home she helped secure.

Her capacity to envision and embrace a 360-degree life has deep roots. As a Skidmore student, the Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., native chose to design her own interdisciplinary major in me- dieval studies when she found that her interest in the time peri- od embraced art history, literature, music, and philosophy and did not fit a predetermined curriculum. “It is important to re- member, and to be able to communicate, that art is not created in a void—whether it was made 600 years ago or yesterday,” she points out.

“Skidmore was incredibly receptive to my self-determined

major,” she recalls. “I am extremely grateful. Twice, I was the only student signed up for a course, and both times I worked one-to-one with the professor.” She says the best candidates for an interdisciplinary degree “are really clear about what they want and can work independently.”

Engrossed as she can be in her varied passions, Kimball knows when it’s time to slow down. She refuels by spending time with her children and through reflection. She concludes, “I have learned that the most important meeting of the day is the one you have with yourself.” —Helen S. Edelman ’74


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