More Than a Game

The Ithaca College Community had a major moment last November, a moment that united, not only the sports fans among us but our entire IC family as well, around the promise of Ithaca College.

On November 16, IC’s football team won the 61st annual Cortaca Jug game against rival SUNY Cortland on a national stage: MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets. A record crowd of 45,161 attended the game, and a record number of our IC alumni gathered to be a part of the event.

Thousands of you were there on game day, and hundreds more participated in events geared toward IC grads—at MetLife Stadium and around the country at Cortaca viewing parties.

The amount of enthusiasm and energy was absolutely incredible, and it was truly amazing to see how this game activated an entire community in so many different ways. As I talked to many alumni throughout the weekend, it became very clear that this moment pushed beyond the boundaries of our football program. It was about the essence of the IC experience and how this place connects people for a lifetime.

The next five years will bring change to Ithaca College as we move forward with the implementation of our strategic plan, Ithaca Forever. In looking ahead, we have made it very clear—both on campus and with our greater IC community—that students are our “why.”

Because Ithaca College is an institution that strongly centers the liberal arts within a context of an experiential and professional education, moments like the 2019 Cortaca game are emblematic of our purpose, our reason for being.

From the beginning, our students were involved in so many aspects of the event, with interdisciplinary opportunities that encompassed our campus. Our television-radio students called and covered the game; our sport management students ran the on-campus ticket sales; student volunteers helped plan and execute Cortaca-related alumni events; and many student performers had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, including our cheerleaders, our choir students, and the members of our African Drumming and Dance Ensemble.

This game reminded me of the power of our community and how a deep connection to a shared experience can span generations and perpetuate incredible energy.

We are keeping this momentum going as we work through our first year of implementing our new strategic plan. As we do this work, we not only think about the future but also about our past. In the midst of this effort, we think about how the programs IC has offered have changed over time—and why. We think about the different students who’ve come to this place: how the gender and ethnic diversity has shifted. We think about the major decision to relocate our campus to South Hill—something that seemed impossible at the time.

Finally, we think about the people who made it all happen—not just the leaders or past presidents or philanthropists but also the faculty, the staff, the community members, and the alumni whose individual and collective will to adapt has meant that this institution has endured for 126 years.

In this moment, we are those people: those of you reading this magazine, those of us on campus, and members of the IC family around the globe. We are the people who are building the future, one which centers a transformative student experience by calling upon the strength, energy, and joy found within our IC family as we build an Ithaca Forever community together.