IC Welcomes New Leaders

By Danica Fisher ’05, October 28, 2022

New leaders bring about a new era at Ithaca College.

Over the past year, members of Ithaca College’s administration have paved the way for ongoing progress with a visionary new president, provost, and four new deans. Meet the next administration moving IC forward with our deep strengths: our distinctive academic approach blending the liberal arts with professional practice, our bold leadership and interdisciplinary collaboration, our commitment to equity and diversity, our idyllic location in a quintessential college town, and, most of all, our thriving community dedicated to empowering students for the future. 

La Jerne Terry Cornish, President of Ithaca College

La Jerne Terry Cornish took o!ice on March 7, 2022, as Ithaca College’s 10th president. Prior to this appointment, Cornish served as interim president from August 2021 to March 2022, and as provost and executive vice president after joining Ithaca College as provost and senior vice president for academic a!airs in July 2018.

In addition to leading the college’s academic a!airs division, Cornish served as the primary architect of Ithaca Forever, the college’s five-year strategic plan. The plan was created during the 2018–19 academic year and was formally endorsed by the Ithaca College Board of Trustees in June 2019.

During the pandemic, Cornish led the shift to remote teaching and distance learning, including the orchestration of a revised academic calendar in alignment and compliance with ever-shifting safety and health guidelines. Cornish was also instrumental in leading the work of the college’s Return to Campus Task Force, which was charged with developing a comprehensive plan to fully open the Ithaca College campus in a challenging public health environment.

Committed to educational issues locally and globally, Cornish’s research interests include new teacher induction, culturally responsive teaching, and campus responses to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She helped establish Future Educators Associations in five Baltimore City middle schools and for over a dozen years organized and led educational experiences for Goucher students in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Earlier in her career, Cornish served as associate provost for undergraduate studies at her alma mater, Goucher College. Prior to joining Goucher in 1998, Cornish held various positions for 15 years in the Baltimore City Public School System. She taught English in three middle schools, piloted the Maryland’s Tomorrow Middle School Program, and served as the assistant principal of Canton Middle School. 

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Education: BA in English and an MEd with a concentration in urban and diverse learners from Goucher College; PhD in language, literacy, and culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

On what makes IC distinctive: “The integration of theory, practice, and performance, which is the hallmark of an Ithaca College education.”

On what makes Ithaca distinctive: “We reside in the truly quintessential college town, but it is our togetherness, inclusive of community, which makes us very special.”

On her biggest challenge since joining Ithaca College: “Coping with COVID-19, without a doubt. Swiftly moving to remote instruction and successfully returning to in-person instruction within two years was truly a test for this institution.”

On what keeps her motivated: To those whom much is given, much will be required. —Luke 12:48 “Over the span of nearly 40 years in education, I have been given much, beginning with an amazing education and professional opportunities afforded to me by people who believed in me. If you know my story, you know that I was somebody’s ’why,’ as a student. And so I am always on the lookout for students who need a ‘why.’”

On her vision for fall 2022: “While our strategic plan is aptly named Ithaca Forever, starting this fall our focus will be Ithaca Together, to include not only faculty, staff, and students but also the community in which we reside. Together, we will not only make Ithaca College distinctive but also the city of Ithaca, as reflected in the presence of an Ivy League university, a comprehensive college with amazing professional schools, and a community college that opens different pathways for students on their way to four-year institutions.” 

Melanie Stein, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Melanie Stein, a native of Ithaca, began her tenure on South Hill in July 2019, when she assumed the role of dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. In March 2022, President Cornish announced Stein as provost of Ithaca College, after serving as interim provost since August 2021. Before joining IC, Stein had served as dean of academic a!airs at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She joined Trinity as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics in 1995 and also served as interim dean of faculty and as an associate academic dean. Prior to joining Trinity, Stein taught for three years at the Ohio State University. 

Education: AB in mathematics from Harvard College, MS and PhD in mathematics from Cornell University

On what makes IC distinctive: “It’s a place to explore. We have these incredible professional schools that are grounded in the liberal arts, and that goes both ways, where liberal arts students can take advantage of our professional schools.”

On what makes Ithaca distinctive: “It’s really a perfectly balanced community because it’s a place where you have cultural opportunities of a much larger metro area combined with the ease of a small town and natural beauty that’s unmatched anywhere. As a native Ithacan, I sometimes get critiqued for being too enthusiastic about Ithaca, but sorry, that’s that!”

On her biggest challenge since joining Ithaca College: “Needing to make some very, very challenging decisions right in the middle of the pandemic when everyone was so isolated and exhausted, and yet we couldn’t lose a beat.”

On what she’s looking forward to in fall 2022: “Right now I’m feeling extraordinarily upbeat! This spring really brought a renewed sense of community. And now we are in a new academic year with the four deans I have appointed. During our initial conversations with the deans, much of what we spoke about was centered around my vision for a highly collaborative academic leadership team devoid of silos. I want my team to look outward to think about initiatives and opportunities that can benefit the whole campus. And so, I am really looking forward to working with the team to develop opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.” 

Claire Gleitman, Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences

“I’m looking forward to bringing the institutional knowledge and perspective I’ve gained from 28 years as an IC faculty member to the position. In the immediate future, I am eager to assist the school in coming together again after the disruptive last few years and building on our strengths as the liberal arts core of IC. I have very high hopes for the curricular revision process that is underway in departments across H&S. By infusing more flexibility into our already exceptionally strong programs, we will enable students to delve deeply into their chosen field of study while granting them more space to range freely across the intellectual terrain that is the liberal arts.” 

Claire Gleitman was hired as an assistant professor in IC’s English department in 1992. She received tenure and was promoted to associate professor in 1997 and then professor in 2008. As a faculty member, she taught a range of courses focused on dramatic literature, serving in the English department, the theatre arts department, the honors program, the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies program, and the Integrative Core Curriculum program. Gleitman served as English department chair for nine years, as coordinator of the women’s, gender, and sexuality studies program for one year, as president of the H&S Faculty Senate for six years; and as a member of Faculty Council’s Executive Committee for three years. Gleitman received a BA from Wesleyan University with majors in psychology and theatre, and an MA and PhD in English literature with an emphasis 

Bonnie Prunty, Vice President of Student Affairs and Campus Life

“There are a number of things that I am excited to accomplish as the vice president for student a!airs. My most immediate goal is to focus on improving student and staff retention. We will focus on building upon our collaboration with the New Center for Student Success and Retention to develop new and improved outreach and programs to better support student success. At the same time, we will look for opportunities to increase the sense of staff community to help us retain our valuable and talented staff members.” 

Bonnie Prunty was named dean of students in June 2018, overseeing the O!ices of Residential Life, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Case Management, and New Student and Transition Programs along with the Center for Counseling, Health, and Wellness. A sampling of her institutional service includes the IC 20/20 Advisory Committee, the Enterprise Risk Management Committee, the Residential Models Task Force, and the First-Year Experience Coordinating Committee. Her professional affiliations include two-year terms on the executive board of the Association for College and University Housing Officers–International. 

Anne Hogan, Dean of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

“There are so many opportunities for the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance to explore, including more cross-disciplinary training and creative activities, both within the school. and across IC, and in partnership with higher education and arts institutions, nationally and internationally. An essential opportunity will be to establish the school as a leader in diverse and inclusive practices, and as a school that at once respects the history and traditions of its respective disciplines and embraces novel directions. Promoting IC and the school as a place that empowers emerging artists to be agents of positive change will only accelerate its visibility and renown. A collaborative process will enable the school community to shape an inspiring and sustainable vision and to clarify what success for the new School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will look like.”  

Anne Hogan has been the dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CCFA) at the University of Memphis since 2017. In addition to her current role as dean, Hogan was the founder and acting director of the University of Memphis Institute for the Arts and Health, which was designed to foster and secure funding for transdisciplinary research and community engagement by bridging the arts, social sciences, humanities, and STEM disciplines. She previously held teaching and administrative positions at the Royal Academy of Dance, London Metropolitan University, London Contemporary Dance School, and American University of Paris, among other institutions. At the University of Memphis, Hogan led efforts to ensure an inclusive learning community, including a series of professional development workshops for academic and nonacademic staff, a comprehensive review of faculty search guidelines, and the implementation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. During her time as dean, the school increased enrollment, retention, and graduation rates as well as the diversity of the student body, and inaugurated new undergraduate majors and online certificate programs.

Hogan received a BA in English literature from Harvard University and an MA and PhD in English literature from Brown University. 

Amy Falkner, Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications

“Ithaca College is such a wonderful academic institution in a beautiful locale and active local community that my family and I hope to become very engaged in. The college has incredible programs that are very student focused, which I love. My passion is what is best for students, and I feel like that is a mantra on this campus. I am thrilled to become a part of that kind of environment. The teaching and learning that goes on in the Park School is top level and supported by an incredibly capable and welcoming sta!. The promise of Park is that its students are ready to go the first day of their new jobs as young professionals and scholars. Leading a school that strives for excellence in everything it does is exactly where I want to be.” 

Amy Falkner has had a lengthy career as a teacher and a leader in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, serving as acting and interim dean for two years from 2018 to 2020. She joined the Newhouse faculty in 1998, was named associate dean for academic a!airs in 2006, and has been senior associate dean since 2012. She worked in the newspaper industry for a decade, where she was named one of Presstime’s “top 20 under 40” newspaper industry executives. She then entered academia as an assistant professor in the advertising department at Newhouse. Falkner was the first member of the faculty to become a two-time winner of the Newhouse Teaching Excellence Award, an honor voted on annually by the graduating class. Falkner has also been active in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) space while assisting Syracuse University in finalizing its DEIA strategic plan.

Falkner holds a BA in communications/journalism from St. John Fisher College and an MA in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. 

Marsha Dawson, Dean of Students

“In this unique role and position, I am excited to carry on and carry out the culture of care. Simply put, we want to reiterate in as many ways possible, to students, parents, and colleagues, that we care. We care about the student experience, persistence, and retention, and overall self-governance. I am honored to work alongside outstanding colleagues who share the same enthusiasm, and I am ready to have a hands-on role in continuing to cultivate the IC culture of care.” 

Marsha Dawson is a student a!airs professional with 15 years of dedicated service in the higher education field. She joined Ithaca College in 2019 as director of residential life and judicial a!airs. Previously, Dawson served in leadership roles with institutions including Mount Saint Mary College, the University of Hartford, and the New School, most recently as interim director of residential life. She holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology and has a passion for providing a service to her community. Her volunteerism includes working with individuals with acquired brain injury, service work in Masiphumelele, South Africa, and being an on-call victim advocate in New York City. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Tompkins County Advocacy Center and is looking forward to continuing to foster connections in the broader community. 

Michael Johnson-Cramer, Dean of the School of Business

“My passion is preparing students to confront society’s grand challenges, but neither business nor any other discipline can solve these challenges alone. As dean, I hope to forge stronger ties between the school’s faculty, IC’s other schools, and the business world. Together, if we can teach students to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries, we can have enormous social impact.” 

Michael Johnson-Cramer has been a professor of management at Bentley University since 2019, serving there in 2019–20 as the dean of business and the McCallum Graduate School of Business. After beginning his academic career at Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, Johnson-Cramer joined the management faculty at Bucknell University in 2004. His leadership roles there included chairing the interdisciplinary global management program and serving as associate dean of faculty for the College of Arts and Sciences, founding director of the School of Management, and interim dean of the Freeman College of Management. He led efforts to plan for and establish the Freeman College, to achieve initial AACSB accreditation in three years, and to implement an interdisciplinary curriculum, including new majors and minors. While at Bucknell, Johnson Cramer partnered with the admissions o!ice to help improve enrollment and with the alumni relations and advancement o!ices to increase donor engagement and support.

Johnson-Cramer received his doctor of business administration from Boston University, master of business administration from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and bachelor of arts from Harvard University.