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Contributed by David Maley on 06/19/2012
Submitted on behalf of President Tom Rochon
When Carl Sgrecci transferred to Ithaca College in 1967 as a junior accounting major, Howard Dillingham was serving as the fourth president and the campus was still completing its move to South Hill. He recalls watching the silver sculpture atop Textor Hall—its official name is “Disc”—being installed as part of the College’s 75th anniversary celebration. Enrollment stood at about 3,400, there were approximately 440 faculty and staff, and the endowment was $322,000.
In 2012, as Sgrecci announces his plans to retire next year as vice president for finance and administration, Tom Rochon is serving as the eighth president and the South Hill campus comprises nearly 80 buildings totaling 2.3 million square feet of floor space. With the College now 120 years old, “Disc” remains a topic of campus lore while enrollment stands at 6,760, there are some 1,740 faculty and staff, and the endowment is a healthy $209 million.
During his 45 years at Ithaca as a student, teacher and administrator, Sgrecci has become as much of an institution as the College itself. Though a boundless optimist—he says that he’s holding onto his comb long after it’s really needed—he never fails to provide a pragmatic analysis of the College’s fiscal situation. His steady hand has helped the College weather the storms of several national economic recessions to come out even stronger.
“Carl has been a most unusual chief financial officer,” noted Rochon. “He began his IC career as a member of the faculty, and his campus presentations on our finances always bear the marks of a true educator. We have been fortunate to have a CFO for whom the College is so much more than a balance sheet: Carl’s love for the college means that he always places people first.”
Raised on the family dairy farm in Watkins Glen, Sgrecci earned an associate’s degree in business from Corning Community College, his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ithaca, and an MBA in finance from Syracuse University. He joined the School of Business faculty in 1969, while also working at Price Waterhouse and a local accounting firm at various intervals to obtain the necessary experience to qualify for the Certified Public Accountant exam.
He taught nearly all of the courses offered in the accounting curriculum, with primary emphasis on principles, intermediate and advanced accounting. In 1973 he received the College’s Outstanding Teaching Award. One of Sgrecci’s students was Steve McCluski ’74, who would go on to become senior vice president and chief financial officer for Bausch & Lomb and a member of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees.
“I have known Carl for almost the entire time he has been associated with Ithaca College,” said McCluski. “As a student, member of the faculty and executive administrator, Carl has seen and done it all. He has been an outstanding leader of the finance function, resulting in the College being in excellent financial health. Carl will be missed, but I know he will be looking forward to a well earned retirement.”
In 1975 Sgrecci moved to the administration, serving as the College’s comptroller and then as treasurer and controller. He was promoted to vice president and treasurer in 1984, then to vice president for finance and administration in 2003.
Sgrecci oversees the Offices of Business and Finance, Facilities, Human Resources and Information Technology Services, all areas that have seen significant growth and transformation over the years. His leadership has ensured that these offices remain at the forefront of industry “best practices.” The breadth and depth of his knowledge also means that he has played a key role in nearly every major College planning and policy endeavor of the past three decades, ranging from the establishment of multi-year budget outlooks to the adoption of a Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality. His fiscal savvy has helped the College finance both the construction of new buildings and the upgrading and renovation of existing facilities.
“Carl is well known for his extraordinary talents in financial affairs,” said President Emeritus Peggy R. Williams, who worked with him from 1997 to 2008. “He is much more than that, however. Carl is an avid learner and a gifted teacher—invaluable traits that have served Ithaca College so well over the years.”
Sgrecci has put his green eyeshade to good use serving the wider Ithaca community as well, particularly in the areas of health and human services. He has been president of the board of directors of the Special Children’s Center and Cornell Fingerlakes Credit Union, president and treasurer of the board of directors of Longview, and member of the board of directors of the United Way of Tompkins County, Home Health Care, Inc., and Tompkins County Area Development, Inc.
“Ithaca College has been, and always will be, a very special place for me,” said Sgrecci. “It is so because of all the wonderful people who work here. It has been a privilege for me to have been able to work with so many of them for so long, each of us contributing in our own way to deliver on the College’s mission. To paraphrase one of my favorite personalities from the early days of television, Jackie Gleason, ‘How sweet it has been!’ And I thank everyone for allowing me to be a part of it all.”
Sgrecci’s retirement will be effective August 31, 2013. The search for his successor will be launched during the coming year.