David Porter: A True Leader and Educator

Although I have not been too involved with anything Skidmore College related since my graduation in 1992, I am a proud Skiddie, through and through. I recall so many memories from my 4 years in Saratoga on almost a daily basis. My experiences made me who I am today, and for that I am very thankful.

That is why when I read about President David Porters sudden passing over the weeked, I was struck with so many mixed feelings. Pride for having been part of his community, privelege for having known him, and honor for having the opportunity to call Skidmore my alma matter, my extended family. 

Back in my Junior year, when living in Scribner Village, I recall some rules and regulations were being changed. Honestly, to this day, I have no recollection of the specifics of those changes. What I do remember, is saying to myself, I am gonna change things myself, I am going to reach out to various fraternities and get them involved in the Skidmore community, bring them onto campus somehow.  I don't know why that was my thought, I don't even care for fraternities and sororities. Heck, the lack of these entities was one of the many features of Skdimore that made me fall in love with it during my Junior and Senior years of High School. Skidmore, in my mind, was already a community that didn't need fraternities to provide that sense of belonging. At Skidmore, we all just belonged. 

Despite what I already knew, my decision was made. I was going to be the one to bring fraternities to Skidmore College. 

Why am I telling you this story? How does this have anything to do with Dr. Porter?

Well, shortly after I made my decision to go down this path, I received a phone call from Dr. Porter's office, he would like to speak to me. Well up until this time, I flew under the radar, I did my work, had my fun, enjoyed downtown and campus equally and even helped out a great deal in the BU107 curriculum. Why did he want to speak to me? What could he possibly know about ME? 

I wasn't scared, or nervous, like the many times I was called into the principal's office in High School. I was just curious. 

So I went to meet with him, and was greeted by someone I could tell right off the bat was a leader, smart and most of all caring. He cared about me, he cared about all of the students, and he cared about the Skidmore Community at large. I knew this within the first 5 minutes of speaking with him. Our meeting wasn't long, but my first one one one encounter with him showed me how great of a man he was. Despite his powerful position, Dr. Porter was not intimidating, he was just really, really smart. He was not a teacher, but rather a true educator. 

The meeting was about my desire to bring fraterntities to campus. I have no idea how he found out, but it was just one of those things that made him such a great leader. He had his finger on the pulse of EVERYTHING that went on at Skidmore. 

I do not recall everything from that meeting, but I remember at no point did he tell me not to proceed. At no point did he TEACH me anything about why this was not a good idea. Instead he EDUCATED me on the many things that made this such a bad idea. He never said as much. He educated me on the history of the school, and more importantly, he educated me on why fraternities were not part of the Skidmore fabric to date. 

I remember leaving his office on a happy note, knowing that was the last moment I would ever think of trying such foolish thing. I remember leaving thinking, if I ever have the opportunity to be in a position of leadership, he was someone that I would think back upon to emulate. 

To this day 24 years later, I have not lead my staff through intimidation, but rather through education. Two important skills that I learned from that short meeting with Dr. Porter. So it is with both sadness and pride that I say goodbye to David Porter. Sadness for not spending more time to interact with him and learn as much as I possibly can. Pride for having the chance to have that meeting and learn what I learned.

Thank you Dr. Porter for what you did for me, for the scores of other students, and for Skidmore. May you memory shine in each and every one of the Skiddies you knew.