My View from South Hill
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Last week the Ithaca College Board of Trustees held the first of its three meetings for the 2008-2009 academic year. A number of weighty topics were on the table, led by discussion of the economic turbulence of recent months and how this may impact the ability of families to invest in a private college education for their children. This was my first board meeting as president, and you can well imagine how much energy I and the vice presidents put into our preparations for every point on the agenda. And yet, as happens at every board meeting I have ever attended, our presentations and discussions were not the highlight of the meeting. Once again, the students stole the show.
Trustees on the Campus Life and Community committee heard students describe their peak educational experiences at IC. Shannon Archer ‘10, an integrated marketing communications major, described how her PR and marketing courses came to life for her while creating advertisements and t-shirt designs in a fund-raising effort for Colleges Against Cancer.
“It is a revelation,” Shannon said,” to realize that you have skills and talents that can be used to help others.”
Chris Lee ‘10 gave the trustees a taste of celebrity when he described opening for Incubus in front of 17,000 people as a member of the campus singing group Ithacappella. Sarah Hathaway ‘09, who studies communication management and design, interned on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and at the Make-a-Wish Foundation while on Ithaca’s Los Angeles program. She described what it felt like to be honored on the American Idol Gives Back program, standing on stage with other extraordinary volunteers. Listening to these students, the trustees were enthralled.
Meanwhile, spouses of the trustees were having lunch with my wife, Amber, and with some of the over 30 IC students who served as interns during the Olympic Games. Robert McHugh ‘09, a cinema and photography major in the Park School interned with NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. He was asked by a fellow intern from another college what high position his parents had at GE (the NBC parent company), to enable him to get this internship. Robert, who enjoys no such connections, felt a burst of pride at realizing how far his own hard work has already carried him.
Mario Nishihara ‘09 is a sport media major who was born in Japan and interned in Beijing with the Olympic News Service. “Every day I see something that makes me reflect further on the time I spent in China,” she said. “I will always see the world differently because of this experience.”
Listening to these students, one of our trustee spouses noted the contrast from when she was 21 years old. “How do Ithaca College students come to be so self-confident,” she asked, “so thoughtful in learning from their experiences, and so gifted in describing those experiences to others?”
I wish I knew the answer to that question. What I do know is that amazing students know how to get the most out of amazing opportunities. And the trustees, who of course serve on our board precisely because they care about the education of the next generation, are reinvigorated by every opportunity to hear what students have to say.
Trustees and the administrative leadership used the board meeting to make some important headway on key issues facing the College. But as always, the lasting memories were forged by students.
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