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Shape of the College Draft Recommendations Executive Summary

Contributed by News on 01/13/21 

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On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Ithaca College’s Academic Program Prioritization Implementation Committee (APPIC) released its “Shape of the College” draft report to the campus community. Faculty, staff, and students were sent an email with a link to access the complete document. The APPIC has also created the below Executive Summary, which provides background information and key highlights from the report. The APPIC’s final recommendations will be submitted to the provost and president, who will convey their decisions by March 1.

Ithaca College’s strategic planning process, which began in fall 2018, set out to embody “bold realism” and to foster financial sustainability. One of the investments articulated in the resulting plan is to “maintain an appropriate and sustainable size for our programs and structures, and the associated resources, at every level of the institution.” This goal reflects the college’s response to — and adaptations to — declines in enrollment and represents efforts to align Ithaca College with the realities of the changing landscape for higher education.

In 2019, the college began to implement this commitment by convening the Academic Program Prioritization Action Group. With the help of many members of the Ithaca College community, the group developed the guiding principles that would come to direct a holistic, data-driven, and inclusive process of academic program prioritization.

In fall 2020, responding to the strategic plan and financial challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, the Provost charged the Academic Program Prioritization Implementation Committee (APPIC) to review available data and solicit input from deans and faculty at large in order to recommend an ideal “shape for the college”: a slate of academic offerings and associated resource allocations to be implemented in the next two years, resulting in a sustainable future for Ithaca College, including growth in strategic areas.

Process and Guiding Principles

  • The process has been guided by the Faculty Handbook (4.9.8) as well as the Guiding Principles developed by the Academic Program Prioritization Action Group. (A website with regular updates from the committee has been available to the IC community.)
  • It has included extensive reviews of quantitative and qualitative data, faculty survey results, responses from academic departments, and meetings with all five deans.
  • Based on a target student population of 5,000 students (4,500 undergraduate and 500 graduate students) and a student:faculty ratio of 11.5:1 to 12:1, the committee’s target for reductions relative to the December 2020 faculty count of 542 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) was 107-126 FTE.
  • On January 13, the APPIC’s draft report and recommendations were shared with the IC community. Consistent with the handbook, deans, departments, school curriculum committees and the Academic Policies Committee (APC) will be invited to offer their responses.
  • After reviewing responses from deans, departments, curriculum committees, and the APC, the APPIC will revisit the draft and submit final recommendations to the Provost and President, who will make decisions and share with the community no later than March 1, 2021.

Draft Recommendations Regarding Resource Alignment

  • We have been able to propose reaching the target faculty FTE via a recommendation for reductions spread across all five schools and most departments, with a small number of specific departments, and undergraduate and graduate programs, recommended to be discontinued.
  • The recommendations were designed to retain the strengths we value in the liberal arts and the strong identities of our professional schools.
  • The committee recommended the retention of all tenured and tenure-eligible faculty. Since the college has made recent improvement in attracting BIPOC faculty to tenure-eligible positions, this recommendation avoids disproportionately affecting BIPOC faculty.
  • The committee recommended 86 FTE reductions achieved through the non-renewal of contracts for many part-time faculty, and some full-time (term and non-tenure-eligible) faculty, as well as through overload reductions. In some cases, these reductions include anticipated retirements and phased retirements.
  • An additional 30 faculty FTE reductions are proposed to come from decreases in release time (6 FTE) and through 24 positions vacated (and not replaced) through normal attrition over the next three years.

Additional Draft Recommendations
In addition, the committee offered a number of far-reaching recommendations, the goal of which was to scaffold the proposed staffing changes and position Ithaca for future long-term growth. These include:

  • Create a streamlined undergraduate admission process
  • Ensure an equitable faculty workload
  • Revise and implement a campus-wide course schedule
  • Establish a Faculty Resources Oversight Committee
  • Establish centralized oversight of graduate programs
  • Develop equitable release time policies
  • Re-evaluate course caps
  • Consider organizational structures within the context of our strategic vision

Impact on Students in Programs/Majors Recommended for Discontinuation
Students enrolled in an Ithaca College major that is recommended to be substantially revised or discontinued will be supported through the completion of their planned program.

Looking Ahead
While the most pressing charge for APPIC was to align faculty size with projected student body size, the committee also sees great hope for the future of Ithaca College. Indeed, as Provost Cornish has articulated frequently, the next phases of this process will allow the campus community to focus on restructuring and reorganization, as well as identifying potential for growth in strategic areas.

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