Dr. La Jerne Terry Cornish Named 10th President of Ithaca College

Dear Ithaca College Community, 

I write to you today with great pride and joy to announce that the Ithaca College Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to name Dr. La Jerne Terry Cornish as president of Ithaca College. Dr. Cornish has served as interim president since August 30, 2021, and her outstanding performance in that role provides us with great confidence in her ongoing leadership of our beloved college. 

Dr. Cornish has the character, the fortitude, and the passion to lead the institution at this important, transformational moment. Her appointment ensures a seamless transition and unimpeded progress in advancing the college’s vision, mission, and values. Building on the foundation and the momentum of the Ithaca Forever strategic plan, Dr. Cornish represents a new era of leadership for the college. She has a thorough grasp of the challenges before us and is ready to work collaboratively with the members of the IC community on campus and around the world to ensure that we lean into the significant opportunities that we have to secure a bright future for Ithaca College. The board has the utmost confidence in her ability to unite the college community and in her desire to lead in the pursuit of excellence. 

I want to thank the Presidential Search Committee and its chair, David Fleisher ’91, Parent ’20, for their due diligence in conducting a five-month national search, assisted by one of the top higher education search firms in the country. The search committee included the elected leaders of the college’s Faculty, Staff, and Student Governance Councils and Alumni Association Board of Directors, as well as two additional faculty members and eight trustees. Their collective work produced a deep and diverse pool of viable candidates. Through this highly competitive process, performed with the utmost attention to the current and future needs of the campus, the search committee unanimously recommended to the board that Dr. Cornish be named IC’s next president. 

Since joining Ithaca College as provost in 2018, Dr. Cornish has played a significant role in decision-making processes related to the academic direction of the institution, including the launch of the Physician Assistant Studies graduate program and the recently announced creation of the new School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Consistent with the principles of shared governance, Dr. Cornish worked with the entire campus community to develop and begin the implementation of the Ithaca Forever strategic plan, which provides a blueprint for a sustainable future for the college. In addition, during one of the most difficult times in the college’s history, her steady leadership helped ensure that students and faculty were able to successfully navigate the challenges of the pandemic.  

Since assuming the role of interim president this past summer, Dr. Cornish has provided strong and calm leadership. Her authenticity and unwavering commitment to building a caring community focused on student success all position her well to lead IC at this important juncture in our history.

She has the lived experience that can help this institution in advancing its promise to make an Ithaca College education accessible, affordable, and inclusive for all people, especially those impacted by systemic disadvantage, marginalization, and exclusion. 

You can learn more about Dr. Cornish and our selection of her as Ithaca College’s 10th president here

The campus community is invited to join us later today for two opportunities—one held virtually and the other in person—to hear from our new president. 

  • At 12:15 p.m., I will have the great pleasure of introducing President Cornish in a presentation that will be streamed live. Please go here to view this program. It will also be recorded and posted for later viewing. 
  • From 4:30-6:00 p.m., we invite students, faculty, and staff to personally welcome President Cornish to her new role at an informal reception for the campus community held in the Emerson Suites. 

Please join me in congratulating President Cornish and in wishing her all the best as she continues to lead Ithaca College into a strong and vibrant future. 

With gratitude, 

David H. Lissy '87 
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees