On August 27, Ithaca College welcomed 1,514 first-year students to our campus during a Convocation that was filled with energy and excitement as the newest members of our IC family prepared to begin a transformative phase of their lives. Our Convocation capped off a weeklong orientation for all incoming students—the first time in decades that we’ve oriented an entire class together, intentionally building community among and a strong identity for the class of 2023.
For me, an incredibly moving part of our Convocation ceremony is the singing of our alma mater, “Ithaca Forever,” and hearing the voices of our first-year students combine with those of returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees. This is a powerful moment, connecting not only those of us in the arena but also generations of our IC family. “Ithaca Forever” sets a firm expectation—right from the start of a student’s time on campus—that ours is an institution and a community that endures.
As we begin this new academic year, “Ithaca Forever” remains in the air long after Convocation. These two powerful words are the title of our strategic plan, which lays out nine goals and numerous objectives supporting each. Our community created this plan over the course of the past year, and this year we begin activating it. Ithaca Forever places current and future students at the core of everything we do: they are our “why.”
But to truly understand Ithaca Forever in this new context, we are called to think about what it means to participate fully in the life of this institution and how it’s connected to our ability to cultivate a sense of belonging as a member of the IC family—in both our lived experiences while we are on campus and across time and space.
There are many ways our strategic plan addresses this intention, and I invite you to read the full plan at ithaca.edu/imagining-ithaca. I want to share three specific initiatives contained within our plan that really excite me and will help us fulfill our mission to educate, engage, and empower through theory, practice, and performance.
The first is to become a year-round place for living and learning. We are going to explore ways in which all of our campuses—in Ithaca, New York City, Los Angeles, and London—can provide innovative programming, ranging from professional programs to unique immersion experiences, for all life stages.
The second is a commitment to support our faculty, staff, students, and community in testing innovative ideas and failing forward. One way we plan to do this is to establish a separate limited liability corporation incubator to facilitate research and business development.
Finally, we will continue our strong investment in the mission-critical, student-centered goals of our existing facilities master plan. Our physical campus directly affects our students’ lives and IC experience, and we must transform this campus in ways that will make us more connected to one another as members of a community and as scholars seeking a balanced, holistic education that is integrated and cross-disciplinary.
Ithaca College is a place where creativity flourishes, where the fire of intellectual inquiry is lit and fed. It’s also an enduring mindset, a touchstone for our alumni, families, and neighbors. And as I begin my third year as president, I am thrilled to join with our IC community to realize the promise of Ithaca Forever.