Announcing the Passing of Longtime Professor Patricia Zimmermann

By News, August 19, 2023

Note: Patty's family has requested that the college note that burial will be private. A public celebration of her life and work will be held in the Spring of 2024. 

Dear Ithaca College Community,

It is with profound sorrow that we share with the Ithaca College community that longtime professor of screen studies Patricia Zimmermann passed away early on the morning of Friday, August 18, after a courageous battle with metastatic stomach cancer. It was cruel and she was everything she could be—a beautiful warrior. This news comes as a great shock to us all, and we know it will take some time for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as Patty’s friends, colleagues, and collaborators from across the country and around the world to process their grief.

Professor Patty Zimmermann

Our hearts go out especially to Patty’s husband, associate professor of health sciences and public health Stewart Auyash, their son, Sean, and their entire family.

While her honors and distinctions are too numerous to mention in their entirety here, we would be remiss not to point out some of Patty’s activities and accomplishments during her 42 years of dedicated service on our faculty.

Patty was the epitome of the teacher-scholar. For generations of film students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, she was their introduction to film theory, history, and criticism. She cared deeply for her field of study, which showed in the numerous books, articles, and essays she authored and edited; her constant national and international lecture engagements; the many festivals she curated and programmed; and her service on a multitude of boards and organizations. Patty will also be remembered for her unique handwritten notes, often using her own artwork, to so many alumni, faculty, and staff to celebrate promotions, awards, and accomplishments.

As director of the longtime Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival on campus, Patty brought the world to Ithaca and Ithaca to the world. The annual festival redefined the term “environment,” infusing sustainability, politics, and art into a polyphony of expressions. She always ensured that students had the opportunity to gain valuable experience and make contacts with the participating artists, scholars, and producers, which also included alumni. FLEFF also provided opportunities for Patty to forge connections between faculty across schools.

In recognition of her significant contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service, Patty was named in 2021 as the Charles A. Dana Professor of Screen Studies in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies.

Support services for students are available through the Ithaca College Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-274-3136, and outside of regular business hours following the prompts to select option 5 to speak to a live counselor.

Faculty and staff can access the counseling services of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by calling 1-800-327-2255. A representative from the EAP will be available on-site for faculty and staff from across campus who need assistance processing their grief. Details regarding the date(s), time(s), and location will be forthcoming.

If you would like assistance navigating the supports and resources available to you on and off campus, please submit an ICare referral at

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life also has a website dedicated to grief resources

A gathering for the campus community to come together in healing and in celebration of Patty’s life will be held in Muller Chapel at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, August 28. In lieu of flowers, Patty asked that donations be made to Cinemapolis and Opera Ithaca.

We ask that you continue to take care of yourselves and one another, and to keep Patty and her loved ones close to your heart as we grieve this tremendous loss.

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Melanie Stein
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs