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Dave Prunty

Dave Prunty has a unique perspective on Ithaca College—one that comes from over three decades working on campus.

Dave Prunty standing in front of the clock on the academic quad

Dave Prunty has seen a lot in nearly 35 years at IC. He says that while change has been constant, the college’s soul has stayed the same. (Photo by Giovanni Santacroce.)

The water and shores of Cayuga Lake and surrounding hillsides offer great vantage points for a glimpse of Ithaca College. But there is a unique vista a few folks can claim for themselves: the long view obtained from decades spent on campus.  

For Dave Prunty, that perspective is courtesy of his nearly 35 years at IC. He’s currently the executive director of Auxiliary Services (the group responsible for everything from dining to mail), but those years also include various positions in student affairs and residential life.  

So he’s seen a lot.  

“I can't even begin to talk about all the ways that the college has changed. Almost every time that has happened, it created new opportunities,” he said.  

Yes, those opportunities offered exciting challenges to tackle over his career. (The same is true for his wife, Bonnie, the current dean of students, who has been with the college nearly as long as Dave.) But they also mark the maturation of IC as an institution: from the physical space, to academic offerings, to programs and opportunities to better meet student needs.   

“I can't even begin to talk about all the ways that the college has changed. Almost every time that happened, it created new opportunities." 

He’s worked and collaborated with many people over the years. Those relationships have provided him insight into the sort of individual who will truly thrive among the student body: “Someone who jumps in their very first week, definitely by first semester”—as well as among the faculty and staff: “Despite the hardships and the challenges, people [who] just want to make [IC] work and make sure that we're all moving in the same direction.”  

It’s the people, after all, who have collectively pushed (or pulled) the college forward over the years, including those who led protests over racial equity and justice that made national headlines in 2015 and 2016.  

“We had some really rough years there where the students, in particular, started to tell the campus leadership that we were not doing a good enough job. We just weren't,” Dave said. He acknowledges that the message was difficult to hear at first, but it spurred the IC community to better understand and address the issues and needs being raised by student activists.  

The commitment to improving one another and IC as a whole, folded into the gorgeous campus grounds and surrounding environment in the Finger Lakes, forms the recipe for the “secret sauce” that makes the college so special, Dave said.  

And Dave himself has been a key ingredient in that recipe for more than 30 years. As he looks toward retirement, it’s difficult for many at IC to imagine him not playing his usual energetic role behind the scenes. But he downplays that in typical Dave Prunty fashion. 

“I think the question of legacy is so fraught,” he said. “We all do our parts and then things move on, and the best you can do is be a caretaker for what you have when it's in your care.”