Outlining the Mission

A copy of the formal charge President Shirley M. Collado delivered to the Imagining Ithaca steering committee on October 15, 2018.

This is a critical moment in the evolution of Ithaca College, one that arrives 126 years since our founding as the Ithaca Conservatory of Music in 1892. Then, as now, we offered a rich learning experience, one that was equally rigorous in its academic depth and its cultivation of creative expression. Then, as now, our campus was a place where one could gain an education steeped in three elements: theory, practice, and performance. These anchors have been a touchstone as our institution added programs and disciplines, grounding us not only within our educational vision, but serving as a thread that connects us to our past, a thread we must hold as we create our future.

As we embark upon a strategic planning process this year, we are called upon to envision the next revolution in the evolution of Ithaca College. This moment asks our community to not only imagine Ithaca, but to craft and embody a strategic plan that will harness the talent of our people, the potential of our resources, and our collective energy in service of our institution and our students. We do this vital work in the context of a higher education landscape that is rapidly changing, and within a national dialogue that oftentimes questions the importance and value of a college experience. Our work this year is urgent and timely. It requires courage and tenacity, vision and clarity. It is a critical continuation of our 126-year history, and must reflect, sustain, and advance our mission and our values. 

The Charge

The promise of Ithaca College is central to our academic mission and to the success of the people who live, learn, and work here. Last year, I engaged in conversations with our community about our college. Major areas of focus emerged, namely: our ability to provide a transformative student experience; financial innovation and sustainability for our people, our environment, and our resources; our identity as one college; and our dedication to innovative, collaborative teaching and learning. The strategic planning steering committee’s work will build upon these areas of focus, and seek to ask thoughtful and challenging questions such as:

  • How does Ithaca College establish a unified culture of personal and intellectual transformation for students, staff, and faculty, one that is rooted in academic excellence and the relentless expectation of full participation, collaboration, and equity for all?
  • How can Ithaca College create an expansive vision of what it means to be an innovative and sustainable institution—financially, environmentally, academically, and culturally—while investing ourselves fully as a private college that serves the public good?

With these questions in mind and informed by the deep conversations our community has already engaged in, I charge the Ithaca College Strategic Planning Steering Committee with the following:

Embrace bold realism

This group is guiding one of the most important processes in the history of Ithaca College. Do this work from a place of passionate and daring vision deeply grounded in a heartfelt dedication to honoring the intention and expectation of our revised mission, vision, and values. Yours is a courageous, difficult enterprise. It will call upon you, as an individual and as a collective, to realistically prioritize the college’s goals and make far-reaching, bold decisions that affect every aspect of our institution. Ensure that you do this within the context of data-rich evidence, applicable best practices, and an acknowledgement of our community’s hopes and dreams. At the same time, you must demonstrate an unshakable commitment to forward-thinking innovation that honors our history, our present, and the promise of our future.

Acknowledge the urgency and profundity of this moment

Continuing the status quo is simply not an option if Ithaca College is to remain relevant as an institution of higher education and thrive in a national landscape that is increasingly challenging and ever-changing. Historically, our evolution as a viable and vibrant academic hub has been due to the magnetism of our college community—our intellectual capital, our creative vision, our willingness to take significant chances and our courage in asking for support around those risks. These factors have driven our growth from a music conservatory with an inaugural student enrollment of 125 to a nationally ranked institution that encompasses a campus community of nearly 6,500 students, 750 faculty, and 900 staff. In this moment, it is urgent for you to channel the spirit and the example found within our history to craft our future. I urge you to envision our strength as one college, unified by our shared investment in a transformative learning experience for all our students. Likewise, realize your responsibility to craft a visionary, nimble, and sustainable future for the institution.

Activate an uncompromisingly excellent Ithaca College student experience

At the heart of your work lies an unwavering commitment to the excellence of the Ithaca College student experience. Establish and sustain a steady focus on the quality of this experience. Constantly bear in mind the importance of the personal transformation and self-actualization that our students find on this campus. Honor this journey by prizing our academic enterprise; by strengthening our commitment to a learning community that values full participation, wellness, wholeness, and inclusion; by encouraging all on our campus to collectively invest in our students as today’s learners and tomorrow’s leaders.

Ithaca College is at a pivotal point in our 126-year history. Your work will open a new chapter for the college, one that raises the curtain on our future by defining our values, realizing our promise, and enabling our continued trajectory of distinction as an innovative, enterprising institution of higher education within a changing world.

Appendix A

Strategic Planning Steering Committee Membership

Ithaca College’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee is co-chaired by La Jerne Terry Cornish, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Jason Freitag, Associate Professor, Department of History. The additional members of our strategic planning steering committee were named during a public meeting on Thursday, September 27, 2018. Members were selected out of 118 nominations through a collaborative process which identified each individual’s inventiveness, breadth of knowledge, and investment in our college. The committee intentionally represents a broad swath of the IC community: trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Ithaca area residents.

The members of the strategic planning steering committee are:

  • La Jerne Terry Cornish, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, co-chair
  • Jason Freitag, associate professor, Department of History, co-chair
  • Luvelle Brown, superintendent, Ithaca City School District; member, Ithaca College Board of Trustees
  • David Fleisher II ’91, parent ’20, member, Ithaca College Board of Trustees
  • Paula Ioanide, associate professor, Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
  • Raquel Jacobs ’20, integrative studies major
  • Casey Kendall, executive director, applications and infrastructure, IT
  • Schelley Michell-Nunn’81, director of human resources, City of Ithaca
  • Dawn Pierce, assistant professor, Department of Performance Studies
  • Bonnie Prunty, dean of students, Student Affairs and Campus Life
  • Gordon Rowland, professor and program director, Department of Strategic Communication
  • Mark Scaglione ’22, journalism major
  • Cedrick-Michael Simmons ’14, Boston College, Ph.D student
  • Gerard Turbide, vice president, Enrollment Management
  • Tiffany Valentin, Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program project coordinator, State Grants Office

Appendix B

Strategic Planning Process Overview

Prior to the formation of the strategic planning steering committee, a design team convened during the summer of 2018 to craft an outline of the strategic planning process. The outline was presented to the Ithaca College community on August 23, and an open comment period ranged from August 23 to September 15. The final, overarching parameters for the creation of a strategic plan are:

  • Create a five-year strategic plan to guide the college’s priorities, decisions, resource development, and areas of focus from academic year 2019-20 through 2023-24.
  • Assess the relevance of the current college mission and vision statements, and draft guiding vision, mission, and values statements that are closely aligned to provide the structure of the Strategic Planning Process.
  • Develop a set of high-level themes that will become the basis and topics of the working groups for the strategic planning process. These themes will arise out of the assessment of our mission, vision, and values and stem from feedback from the IC community, as well as an evaluation of the identifiable opportunities and issues that will likely face Ithaca College and higher education in the future.
  • Form, recruit, and populate working groups that will produce the goals and objectives for each of the themes of the planning process.
Appendix C

Strategic Planning Principles and Outcomes

As outlined in the strategic planning master document, the strategic planning steering committee will:

  • Create meaningful opportunities for the members of our Ithaca College community to contribute
  • Proactively solicit participation from everyone – including voices that have not historically been represented
  • Establish a transparent process
  • Ensure that participants see their input reflected at all stages of the process

The committee will be responsible for producing the final report of the planning process. That report should be explicit regarding how the groups working as part of the planning process got to their results. The report of the results and the writing of the plan should take into consideration the many audiences within the IC community, on campus and off.

The final product of the strategic planning process will include:

  • Guiding Vision, Mission and Values Statements
  • Strategic Themes
  • Goals (the destinations at which we hope to arrive)
  • Objectives (the measurable steps we take to get to those destinations)
  • A summary of the key opportunities and trade-offs with each of the themes, goals and objectives
  • An Implementation Plan
  • A team of individuals that will be responsible for guiding implementation, and ongoing strategic reflection about the plan in the context of a dynamic institutional and higher education environment

Appendix D


Anticipated milestones in Ithaca College’s strategic planning process are as follows:

October 2018 The steering committee delivers a draft of the guiding versions of the vision, mission, and values that will be used for the next stages of the strategic planning process.

November 2018 The committee delivers a draft of the themes after inclusive dialogues with members of the Ithaca College community. 

December 2018 The committee announces the formation of the theme-based working groups.

May 2019 Based on the findings and recommendations of the working groups, the committee begins a draft of the college’s strategic plan.

May 2019 The committee hosts a two-day campus-wide strategic planning institute which solicits feedback on the draft plan.

May 2019 The committee delivers a draft plan to the president of the college and the board of trustees.

June–September 2019 The committee finalizes a draft of the strategic plan.

September 2019 The committee shares the final plan with the Ithaca College community.