Envisioning the Future

From the first moment I stepped on to Ithaca College’s campus, I knew. There’s just something about this place— something that inspires, something that captivates, something that activates. But defining that “something” can be a challenge, and evolving and sustaining it? That’s the work of an entire community.

For nearly one full year, our faculty and staff, our students and alumni, and our trustees and Ithaca neighbors have been deeply involved in formulating the future of IC. This strategic planning process, called Imagining Ithaca, kicked off in the fall. It has been robust and lively, prizing innovative, collaborative ideas and linking the success of this institution to our ability, as a community, to create its future right now.

In the fall 2018 semester, the strategic planning steering committee— composed of faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and local community members—laid the groundwork by drafting a guiding mission, vision, and values specific to this process. And this spring, small groups of our faculty, staff, and students from around campus have been diving fully into the challenging work of fleshing out concrete concepts and steps that advance our institution within three overarching themes: Investment in People, Place, Planet; Evolution of Students, Curriculum, College; and Interconnections among Disciplines, Schools, Partners.

At the outset of this process, I had an opportunity to sit down with the steering committee and deliver my charge to them as they began their work. I wanted the committee and the IC community to know how important this moment is, how deeply their efforts would shape this institution that we all cherish, how the task they had before them was both urgent and profound. I encouraged them to embrace “bold realism.” And most of all, I asked them to center the student experience by prizing our academic enterprise; by strengthening our commitment to a learning community that values full participation, innovation, wellness, wholeness, and inclusion; and by encouraging all on our campus to collectively invest in our students as learners and leaders.

As president, my job is to engage a strategic mindset and think about the big picture over the long term. It has been extraordinary to watch members of our community embrace that mindset, too, as we all join together in our shared identity as architects of the college’s future.

This is a major point in the evolution of Ithaca College. We are at a crossroads that clearly compels us to redefine the IC experience to give our institution and our people the opportunity to thrive in a rapidly changing higher education landscape. The very near future will bring quickly shifting student demographics, the swift emergence of new ways to communicate and connect, and the dire need for nimble innovation that enables places like IC to continue to thrive. And as we think about the promise of Ithaca College and what IC can do in this changing landscape, we start by exploring how to leverage our college’s existing strengths and how best to cultivate and integrate them to ensure that IC continues to provide a transformative student experience and serve a public good.

In this issue, you’ll read stories about alumni achievement, faculty innovation, and student success. These stories are the result of 126 years of living, learning, adapting, and growing at Ithaca College. As we do this work now to envision our future, we are ensuring that students, faculty, staff and future presidents— step onto Ithaca College’s campus and know that something very special happens here.