Celebrating the Career and Retirement of Dr. Tanya Saunders

Tanya Saunders, Assistant Provost, International Programs and Extended Studies, retires on July 1, 2020, after an incredible 29 years at Ithaca College.

Tanya Saunders' leadership is defined by one word and working principle: collaboration.

Patty Zimmerman

On behalf of everyone who has worked closely with Dr. Tanya Saunders in her thirty-year tenure at Ithaca College, the Office of International Programs and Extended Studies is honored to celebrate Dr. Saunders’ distinguished career and the announcement of her retirement. 

Dr. Saunders arrived at Ithaca College in 1991 as Director of International Programs. Before IC, she hailed from Florida International University’s Center for Multilingual and Multicultural Studies.  

She received her BA from Bucknell University in Spanish and French Literature and her MA/PhD from Brown University in Hispanic Studies. Dr. Saunders was recipient of a Brown University Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship for dissertation research. 

At Ithaca College, Dr. Tanya Saunders was instrumental in the establishment of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (CSCRE) and organized throughout her time on campus multiple, ongoing speaker series, including her favorite: a year-long collaboration with the CSCRE and the School of Music on the Music of the African Diaspora.  

Dr. Saunders served as Dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies (DIIS) for nine years; inaugurated the First Year Reading Initiative with the Office of Multicultural Affairs; established the London Faculty Sabbatical Program; and helped to develop the MLK Scholars Program, continuing to serve since as a beloved MLK Scholar Mentor.  She served as Executive Producer for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), leading an interdisciplinary team of faculty in transforming FLEFF from a regional film festival to one featuring international collaboration across many different media platforms and disciplines.

Dr. Saunders' commitment to internationalizing the campus, to supporting students seeking to study abroad, and to creating a welcoming environment for international students at IC has made a lasting, positive impact on countless students over her many years of service.

Dr. Saunders states:s "All of my undertakings on behalf of the College were accomplished with the generous collaboration of faculty and staff colleagues. It has been a pleasure to work in the Office of International Programs and Extended Studies."

Tanya, on behalf of the OIPES and all of your colleagues at IC and in London, please know how much you will be missed!

 I extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Saunders for her many years of service to Ithaca College. Her belief in the value of international travel and interdisciplinary study helped make the Office of International Programs and Extended Studies an integral part of Academic Affairs. Her work with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival and the Common Academic Experience serve as exemplars of her commitment to excellence in everything she does. Ithaca College is better because Dr. Saunders was here and I am grateful to have had the privilege of working with her during my first two years as provost. I wish her a wonderful retirement which is certainly well earned!   

Dr. La Jerne Terry Cornish
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

I worked with Dr. Saunders extensively as one of the founding members of Culture and Communication in the dear, departed DIIS (Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies), and, as Director of the Honors Program, with the Office of International Programs. It is not a coincidence that Tanya is closely connected to two of the most distinctly innovative initiatives that the College attempted during her time here. DIIS represented the first real effort that the College ever made to break down our famous “silos” and OIP was a place where the full potential of a college experience could be realized. Neither would have happened without Dr. Saunders. The College should be deeply grateful for her having made IC a better place. 

Dr. Bob Sullivan 
Associate Professor, Communication Studies

More Kind Words from Friends and Colleagues

Dear Tanya,

While I've only had the chance to work with you briefly, it's clear that your dedication to Ithaca College has made a huge positive impact, and I’m fortunate to have met you on your visit to London last year. Thank you for everything you've done for us at the ICLC. You will be missed, and I hope retirement brings you wonderful things!

Wishing you all the best,

Becca

Dear Tanya,

Thank you for the commitment and integrity you brought to all you did at IC over these past three decades. I appreciate that you always chose to work collaboratively, were so open to, and excited by, new ideas, and handled the numerous challenges and dislocations you faced at IC with such grace and, dare I say it, stoicism! In particular, thank you for your unwavering support for the founding of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity-- for which you also raised that incredible grant-- and for all ways in which you encouraged its work as the dean of the Division of International and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Well, we both came to IC in 1991 and it seems we both chose the same year to leave it. I look forward to continuing our friendship in the years ahead, insha\'Allah.

Asma

Dear Tanya,

Thank you for your support over the past few years at the London Center. It has been an absolute pleasure to know you. Wishing you a wonderfully happy and long retirement.

Jackie

Dear Tanya,
Your unstinting support and wise guidance will be sorely missed in London and I can't thank you enough for all that you did for us.   It is particularly painful to have been deprived of the opportunity of saying goodbye and thank you in person due to the present grim circumstances, but I hope that we will see you here again when things improve.   I also hope that you will enjoy the new opportunities to spend more time with friends and family. 
With very best wishes from Susan
 

Although what brought Tanya to London and enabled us to meet was her role as Assistant Provost of International Programmes, I have always thought of Tanya as a friend. She is warm, kind and extremely stimulating to talk to. Her profound interest in issues of diversity and women's rights chimed with mine. She has particularly sensitive antennae to detecting structural problems of discrimination beneath the normalized behaviour of institutions. She can be excoriating about race relations and the present disgraceful state of politics in America. However, our conversations ranged over a wider range of subjects than politics. I remember having some very interesting discussions about Shakespeare whose plays she knows well. I recollect in particular her shrewd observations about a production of As You Like It at the Barbican which made me think of the play in a new light. She's an Anglophile without being unaware of similar problems of discrimination in our society which she is very knowledgeable about. I have always enjoyed our social encounters, whether at the London Center, at Bill and Lynne Sheasgreen's house or at ours. I hope that she will continue to visit London, now in private capacity, and with more free time in which to explore its cultural riches and to meet her friends. I wish her all the best in her retirement and look forward to many more conversations about life, politics and plays with her.

Ashoke

When Tanya took over as Assistant Provost of International Programs, she was like a breath of fresh air. What impressed everyone who worked at ICLC was Tanya's professionalism combined with approachability and affability. This has been so over the years till the present: she has undertaken the demands of her role with the necessary gravitas combined with a lightness of touch and humour. Another quality of Tanya's tenure at ICLC was the enthusiasm with which she always demonstrated a recognition of the significance of "London" in the address/title of our institution; she plunged herself into the culture and activities of the life of the city both through participating in curriculum-driven outings and trips and her personal interest and belief in the life-enhancing values of imbibing the riches of another culture. After Tanya and I became friends we ventured out to explore London; we became "culture-vulture" buddies. We have become close friends and I shall always remember and be thankful for her warm and sustained support through emails, cards and visits during my periods of illness. I am so sorry to say goodbye to an exemplary Assistant Provost despite the fact she is embracing a well-deserved retirement. This is not a goodbye, but au revoir, and bon voyage for the next stride in her life's journey.

Munmun

Tanya,

It has been a lovely experience working with you over these many years.  Without the support of you and the Office of International Programs, our international courses would not have taken place.  I know students enjoyed these, and I hope that their experiences helped them to be thoughtful, caring, with an appreciation for other ways of doing and being, and a more global perspective. I had done essentially no international travel before I came to Ithaca College, and I have benefitted tremendously from the opportunities and education that international work has brought me. Thank you with all my heart!

Your retirement is well-deserved, and I hope it is sweet, indeed!

Carole Dennis

Dear Tanya, 

You are one of the first people I met at IC when I started working there 20 years ago. Your steady guidance and your support for me and the students I work with has made all difference. Thank you for your patience and kindness and very best wishes for healthy and joyful times ahead.

Diana 

I will truly miss Tanya Saunders.  Tanya has been an amazing mentor to me – generous with her time, ideas, and enthusiasm; honest with her feedback; and caring enough to share the hard-gained wisdom that comes with her years of experience.  She taught me how to bring students out into the world (and I am eternally grateful for her presence and insights on our trips to Istanbul!), and also ways to bring the world in to our students.  Indeed, she embodied the importance of international awareness and education.  This is an enormous loss for IC that will be felt for years to come.  I wish her nothing but the best as she moves on to the next part of her journey.  Congratulations, Tanya, and thank you! 

Jason

Dear Tanya,  

It is difficult to imagine an Office of International Programs without you in it!  I am thankful for the many years that I’ve been privileged to work with you. While I know that we haven’t always agreed on everything, our discussions have always helped me to consider issues and questions from other perspectives and helped me to continually learn and grow. Your insight, patience, and guidance have been much appreciated and valued.  I will miss being able to pop into your office for a quick question (or a long discussion!) about that student in London, or that faculty program proposal, or that affiliated study abroad billing issue, or the many other topics we navigated together. 

I wish you the very best for a retirement filled with relaxation, travel, health, and happiness.  

With love and appreciation, 

Rachel 

To Tanya: it is sad news for all of us to hear of your retirement. It has always been such a pleasure to talk with you on your visits and take inspiration from your wisdom and calm. I also know, of course, how supportive you have been of Ithaca London and how important that has been to all of us. I wish you all happiness in your retirement and in emerging from the very strange times we are in now. I will miss you and hope if you ever visit London again you look me up.

Yours, 
Ian

Happy retirement, dear Tanya!

It has been such a pleasure working with you over the years. Thank you for all your support to bring the study abroad course to Costa Rica to life. It has been such a wonderful learning opportunity for the students that has truly helped them re-evaluate their values and become more conscious of their impact on sustainability, as well as the most wonderful and rewarding teaching opportunity for me.  

I wish you every happiness as you explore this next chapter of your life. I know you will make the most of it, just as you have made so many important contributions to Ithaca College.

I hope to see you around Ithaca, if you intend to stay in the area, when we will both be free birds!

All the best to you!

Warmly,
Linda 

Dr. Tanya Saunders has been crucial in shaping Ithaca College’s intellectual culture.  Among her numerous projects, she led two ventures from which I learned much and from which I benefited greatly.  The first of these was the conceptualizing, formulating, and instituting of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity (CSCRE) as a unique institution that would sustain the rich tension between domestic and international themes.  It was Dr. Saunders’ vision that shaped, guided, and sustained the CSCRE.  Second, Dr. Saunders produced the year-long music and lectures series titled “Reverberations: Music of the African Diaspora.”  Few know the difficulties of this project.  It was no simple task to re-orient our music school in this vital and necessary direction.  I count these undertakings as the highlights of my Ithaca College experience.  They were made possible by the firm, gentle, diplomatic, and insightful leadership of Dr. Saunders.  Her retirement is a huge loss to the college.  I count myself lucky to be a beneficiary of her continuing legacy.  Thank you, Tanya. 

Naeem Inayatullah

It has been a great pleasure to get to know Tanya over the last five years and I will miss her.  It’s always been a treat to have her visit the London Centre; she’s been a warm and generous support and encouragement to my work, and her wisdom, humour and good company have added greatly to my happy experience of working there. I wish her all the very best in a happy retirement and send my love and warmest best wishes.

Mel

Tanya,

Thank you for always being kind and understanding, and for your support of us at the London Centre and me and my aspirations. I'll miss you, and I wish you all the best with your future plans. Hoping our paths might cross again!

Caroline

It has been nothing but a privilege and honour to work with you, Tanya. You have always shown understanding, wisdom and ‎strength and provided support beyond measure. Cultural awareness and trust have underscored your relationship with the London Centre and your visits have always been a highlight for faculty and staff, as evidenced by the high turn out whenever you were present. On a more personal level, your friendship, kindness and sense of humour are so greatly valued.  For me you have been inspirational and I have learnt so much from you. Thank you! Everyone in London echoes my words (and Mary would have said it with greater sophistication and flair if she were here to do so). My warmest best wishes for the future.

In friendship and love,

Thorunn

Dear Tanya,

It goes without saying that your presence will be hugely missed here in London. Thank you for always being so kind, understanding and willing to help- whether day or night(!). It has been such pleasure working alongside you and I hope you know just how appreciated you are. I look forward to sharing a Dunkin’ coffee with you sometime in the near future!

Wishing you all the best for your retirement,
Orla

Having the opportunity to work with Dr. Saunders on numerous Academic and Student Affairs initiatives for the educational benefits of faculty, staff and students for two decades has been my honor.  I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Saunders for her leadership to help create, support and promote the Martin Luther King Scholar Program.  Her contributions profoundly enhanced the success of the program for students and the IC community.  Dr. Saunders’ commitment to the holistic educational and personal development of students and her professionalism working with colleagues for the betterment of the IC community is unquestionably praiseworthy.  I extend a heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Dr. Saunders on her retirement.   

Dr. Richardson 

Tanya,

I wish you all the best in retirement after so many years of outstanding service to Ithaca College, to the faculty and to students. You have always maintained very high standards and a commitment to the intellectual foundation upon which we all stand. You should feel very proud of your years at Ithaca College.

Warren

HOMAGE TO DR TANYA SAUNDERS

Let me express at the outset the considerable debt I owe Tanya for taking a risk in appointing me to the post as the London Centre Director, for her support throughout the 18 years I was in post, and for the manner in which our professional relationship matured over the years into a strong friendship which also includes my wife Lynne.  God only knows where I would be today without Tanya’s backing.  I dread to think of the prospects of working in the frozen Canadian north teaching students of the danger of polar bears coming into college to eat food scraps.  One thing is certain, Lynne would have taken a rain cheque on the frozen north.

Second, let me say how surprised I am that Tanya is retiring from Ithaca College.  This is indeed shocking news and would merit a front page headline in both the Ithacan and the Ithaca Journal, ahead of the pandemic, the Presidential election and the late start to the baseball season.  Just as Mrs Thatcher was “not for turning”, Tanya was “not for retiring”.   When asked why she was putting off retiring, she would respond that she had no great ambitions to get involved in new activities, but that there was still plenty to do on campus, in terms of the promotion of black and ethnic minority students, to greater internationalizing,  and promoting inter-disciplinary studies.  She was an excellent promoter of all three of these categories during her 30 years at Ithaca.

If she is still looking for things to do in retirement, let me suggest four possibilities gathered from my observation of Tanya over the years.  First, she has borrowed one of the great themes of Ithaca London during my tenure, walking:  she is now a dedicated walker.  I suggest she establish a walkers’ group for people of all ages in Ithaca.  One thing that London teaches students is what their legs and feet are for.  God did not have a vision of feet being applied to accelerators and brakes in motor cars.  Rather, feet were a principal means of transport and just as important, if not more important as a means of crushing grapes in the production of wine.  Given the Finger Lakes tradition of wine production, I am sure she will be able to find useful activity for her feet in the first phase of wine production. 

Second, over 18 years of visiting campus for orientation purposes, I often lunched with Tanya.  She inevitably recommended we go to the dispenser of soups.  She is a great lover of soups.  May I suggest that she do valuable community service by establishing a soup canteen for the hungry and the ‘down and outs’ who hang around the Commons. 

Third, I was amazed at the discipline she used to raise her two children, Saunders and Laura.  With military precision between 3.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m., or when school was out, contact was made with the home front, when the following questions were asked:  “Is Saunders with you?”  “What is he doing?”, “Has he started his homework”, “Is the television on”, “Is he having a snack?”, “Have you fed the cat?”  This iron discipline had a great impact on her two children’s lives and turned them into the fine adults they are today.  Given today’s problem with young people, a dissemination of Tanya’s style of discipline would be a benefit to society at large.

The fourth activity would be to visit London more often to go to fine restaurants, attend plays, visit museums, go for walks, sample our soups and shake her head at the activities of young people in Britain today.

Seriously, Tanya, thanks for all your help and support.  I keep thinking that had we might have met in Paris in 1968 during the student riots, as we were both there.  Maybe we did pass as ships in the night.  But it was another 23 years before we met.  Thank God.
 
Bill

I first met Dr. Tanya Saunders many years ago when she approached me about collaborating with her on teaching some Japanese students that she was bringing to campus for summer session. I agreed and taught a mini-course on popular music and American politics, which I enjoyed immensely.  It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Saunders whose support and attention to detail made it easy.

Given my position in the Politics Department, and Dr. Saunders’ role in International Programs and the Office of Extended Studies, we have been in constant collaboration over the years, in finding ways to expand and facilitate Politics students’ off-campus learning opportunities. Ithaca College’s International Programs have long been one of one of its bright spots, which I attribute to its entire staff.  But Dr. Saunders commitments have been crucial.

When Dr. Patricia Zimmermann and I became co-directors of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, more than 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Saunders closely in an ongoing basis in capacities too numerous to list.  We started out housed in the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, where Dr. Saunders was the Dean.  She was respected, admired, and liked by all faculty working in the Division.  Dr. Saunders was the major force behind organizing and expanding the Division, which I believe was probably ahead of its time.   When the college chose to terminate it, faculty turned out in large numbers to express their support for the Division and Dean Saunders.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our efforts to save it. 

Dr. Saunders was not only a fierce defender of FLEFF, but she also contributed numerous ideas to expand the festival and ground its mission in interdisciplinary and international programming. In that sense, she was a collaborator and colleague, as well an administrative leader.  Dr. Saunders, whose academic profile includes years teaching Caribbean literature before taking on administrative positions, is a true intellectual, and she has brought that focus to FLEFF and to all aspects of her administrative career.

When I became Legal Studies Coordinator two years ago, I asked Dr. Saunders to join the Constitution Day lecture committee. I am proud of the fact that we worked together to bring in Yale Law Professor, James Foreman, Jr., and Kristin Clarke from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. The latter was her excellent suggestion.

When all is said and done, I have worked longer and in more capacities with Dr. Saunders than any other administrator at Ithaca College.  Without her, my career at the college would have been much less interesting and rewarding.  With great appreciation, and some regret to see her leave, I wish her all the best in her post-Ithaca College life.

Thomas Shevory
Professor and Legal Studies Program Coordinator
Department of Politics

Dr. Saunders,

I am so happy for you - and you will be sorely missed!  It has been such a pleasure to work with you on all the various initiatives whether is was in support of the London Center, Edinburgh, supporting our first year students etc. Your tireless efforts to ensure students have opportunities to engage and study abroad have paved the way for countless lives to be changed. Personally your leadership has taught me so much about impactful administration.  I’ve learned so much from you and for that I am grateful. I can’t wait to see where the next chapter leads you.

Steve TenEyck

Dear Tanya,

As one of the London Centre’s longest standing faculty members (Ed before Malve) a line to thank you for your kindness and support over these many years. 35 Harrington Gardens has always been a rather special place for us all. We look forward to the buzz of American students again and perhaps - who knows - spending time with you sharing a few tales of old.  

With warmest best wishes,
Richard Tudway

Dearest Tanya,

I write this note with great admiration for your professional career.  You are retiring from Ithaca College, but you are leaving behind a legacy that will live on in the many programs that you created at the College.  In every instance, whether when establishing internships in NYC or Washington, D.C., or planting the seeds of the first-year reading initiative, or supporting wholeheartedly the MLK Program and Scholars, you did so with conviction. Your support of CSCRE, as well as the bringing together, on numerous occasions, the faculty and the students to discuss relevant social, economic, and political issues of the moment, were always guided, like everything you have done at IC, by a seriousness of purpose intended to enrich intellectually the Ithaca College community.

Your many other accomplishments deserve mentioning.  I will not list them all. It would be too long of a list.  But I do feel the need to mention that your leadership and commitment as director of the Office of International Programs has been exemplary. You are a firm believer, and rightly so, that the study abroad experience is one of the richest that a college can offer its students.  You have made sure that opportunities are available to those who are interested in studying in London or in any other fascinating city of this world. You have been a facilitator and a caring advisor to many students, and a mentor as well. The College is indebted to you. You should be very proud of your accomplishments.  I know I am.

On a more personal note, what can I say, dear friend? So much! I cherish that you have been my walking partner for so many years.  Only the rain would officially effectively stop us from walking. We always have much to talk about.  I think it is wonderful that in spite of Covid-19, we still walk ‘together.’  You do so by your house, and at the exact same time I do the same in my backyard.  With phones in hand we keep each other’s company and continue our never-ending conversations. What haven’t we talked about? As you know, our conversations on a given day range from politics to the economy to society in general, to what is fair and unfair in this world, to sharing news about our children, to telling each other stories of our pasts and present and our dreams for the future. We have shared thoughts on how best to financially prepare ourselves for retirement, and as I have told you many times, when my turn comes, I’ll do what you are doing. We have shared many travels plans and a couple of trips abroad. Also, much laughter, as well as important fashion and ‘beauty’ tips.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fun of our Zumba classes and our participation in the student group exercises, disregarding the fact that we were the only two participants who were over twenty-one!  And how about our birthday celebrations, taking boat rides in beautiful Skaneateles Lake or the Erie Canal, or exploring Aurora or Cazenovia, or strolling in the Sonnenberg Gardens? I am very fortunate to have you for a friend.

I wish you, Tanya, the very best in this new period of your life. I wish you fun, good health, happiness, joy, etc.  I also hope that we continue our cherished walks, unending conversations, and that our friendship lasts for at least twenty more years. We’ll add a few more to the equation when we get there.

 A big hug/Un abrazote.

Gladys

Thanks, Tanya, for all your work for and with us over the years. I've always felt you've recognised the work we do here. And been a great advocate in representing and supporting our endeavours, on the home campus.  Good luck with your future plans and hopefully we'll see you back in London in the not too distant future. 

All the best,
Lee
 

As a member of London faculty, I always looked forward tremendously to Tanya's visits. I have fond memories of her razor-sharp insights & gentle humour in conversations over supper. She sprinkled handfuls of warmth, kindness & integrity. Her passion for and commitment to the students and the London Centre was infectious and inspiring. Each time she left, a little bit of her magic rubbed off on us and brought us all closer together. Thank you & every good wish for the future.

Simon

Tanya,

As one of the longest serving Ithaca London Center faculty, just to say great thanks for your support and your visits when your genuine interest in ‘goings on’ was always apparent, and your gracious and warm presence brought a touch of the best American values to Harrington Gardens.

Whatever you plan to do next, here’s wishing you health and happiness and interesting and rewarding new adventures,

Sincerely yours,
Mark

Dear Tanya,

After working with you for so many years, I have many kind words to say to you. I’ll start by saying that I will always be grateful for the leadership you’ve shown us, for your support, and most of all, for your kindness. Furthermore, I sincerely thank you for your mentorship and for your dedicated efforts towards helping me advance my career at Ithaca College. Although I imagine your strong work ethic might make the transition from working all of the time to taking time out to smell the flowers might leave you in unfamiliar territory, no need to fear! I expect that you’ll hear from me from time to time with questions about risk management, international education, and career advice. Congratulations on your retirement, Tanya!

Mimi

Since 2004 when Ithaca College assumed full sponsorship, Dr. Tanya Saunders has served as the head of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF), now entering its 24th year.  She is the Executive Producer of the festival. She leads an interdisciplinary team of faculty from across all five schools at Ithaca College to mount an international festival that annually features over 100 events and over 100 guests from around the world that also includes showcasing Ithaca College faculty. Her leadership is defined by one word and working principle:  collaboration.

Under her leadership, the festival, formerly housed at Cornell University with Ithaca College as a major presenting partner, transitioned from a regional festival with a focus on cinema to a major international festival engaging cinema, installation, art, music, literature, science, policy,  scholarship, activism, theater, and more across many different media platforms and discipline that feature all five schools at Ithaca College.

Dr. Saunders led the team to push the limits of the festival’s marketing adage, “FLEFF: A Different Environment” to engage in constant rethinking, recalibration,  and interrogation of the term environment, expanding it to a more dynamic, international,  and multidisciplinary conception.

Dr. Saunders possesses a vision and mission to leverage FLEFF to showcase faculty research, performance, scholarship, and expertise across all five schools in forums, moderations, incubators, think tanks, roundtables, labs, concerts, master classes, all with the goal of creating spaces for exploration of contested ideas of urgency in the environment, human rights, and justice that contribute to national and international debates. She saw FLEFF as a way for Ithaca College to be outward facing in order to contribute to national and international dialogues of significance.

Her vision of FLEFF dramatically expanded Ithaca College student engagement with the festival through blogging internships, Honors seminars, courses in festivals, mini-courses on festival themes, FLEFF films integrated into courses on campus, master classes organized exclusively for students with festival guests, and student reduced rate (and often underwritten by different programs on campus) festival passes to Cinemapolis.

In 2005, she spearheaded an innovative program, the FLEFF Graduate Fellows of Color program, to bring graduate students of color across all the disciplines to campus during the FLEFF for immersion with students, faculty, and community and to introduce them to what a four year undergraduate institution can offer.

Dr. Saunders’ clear, groundbreaking vision for what FLEFF could contribute to Ithaca College grew FLEFF into a festival committed to the interdisciplinary, the international, and the intellectual. FLEFF now works with partners around the globe, including China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, UK, Spain, Greece, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Thailand.  Under her leadership, FLEFF expanded its partnership with Cinemapolis in downtown Ithaca in order to secure international films on the festival circuit. 

Dr. Saunders models and embodies intellectual leadership that inspires the entire FLEFF team, students, faculty, regional/national/international partners, festival guests, and citizens of the region to be grounded in necessary and urgent dialogues that open up collaborative space to probe contested ideas and unresolved debates in community.

Patty Zimmerman