All in the Family

By James Baratta and Desiree Holz, November 10, 2021
Family weekend at Ithaca College brings a sense of closeness.

Last weekend, more than 500 family members of current Ithaca College students gathered on South Hill for several days of festivities and fun. Students and families spent quality time together and spoke with IC administrators, faculty and staff at events throughout the weekend.

Families Find Community at IC

One of the highlights of the weekend was the Ithaca College Family Council (ICFC) Social, held last Friday at the Peggy Ryan Williams Center. The event not only allowed families of current IC students to mingle with each other, but gave them the opportunity to meet with members of the IC Family Council to learn about ways in which families can get involved in their student’s college experience.

The ICFC was created in 2020 to foster a sense of community among parents, administrators and supporters of students and alumni; serve as a liaison between the administration and the families and students; and help parents and caregivers understand what students may face as they navigate the successes and challenges of the college experience. 

“It's really important to have families see how just how wonderful this place is. This is a weekend that really gives everybody a chance to feel like they're really connected to the school.”

Ithaca College Family Council co-chair Sandi McCoy, parent ’19, ’22

“Our goal is to basically learn as much as we can about what the families care about... and to communicate that to the administration,” said Family Council co-chair Sandi McCoy, parent ’19, ’22. “It's really important to have families see how just how wonderful this place is. This is a weekend that really gives everybody a chance to feel like they're really connected to the school.”

“I think for families to see the College through their students’ eyes is really important, and this event is kind of the pinnacle of that,” said Family Council member Helen Peck-Legato ’89.

At the event, attendees shared smiles, enjoyed refreshments, and mingled around tables adorned with white, blue, and gold balloons and autumn décor. Students and families gazed out at Cayuga Lake and took pictures on the patio outside—making memories for years to come.

ICFC member Laura Coburn, parent ’21, was excited to share information about graduate degree options with current parents.

“It’s wonderful to be back. The festivities around this weekend are particularly exciting. It's incredibly festive. The vibe and the atmosphere of the campus and of the town were important and magnetic.”

Bob Hoenscheid, parent '25

“My son graduated last May, and he stayed for an MBA and I'm very passionate now about sort of getting the word out about the graduate programs that exist here,” she said. “I think there are a lot of parents who have absolutely no idea that some of them exist and that their child can actually stay here where they have thrived.”

Bob and Jennifer Hoenscheid, parents of Julia Hoenscheid ’25, a student in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, expressed how nice it was to be back on campus with other parents and caregivers. 

“It’s wonderful to be back,” Bob Hoenscheid said. “The festivities around this weekend are particularly exciting. It's incredibly festive. The vibe and the atmosphere of the campus and of the town were important and magnetic. The quality of the Park School was obviously a draw and... that also has been amplified by, you know, every interaction experience we've had with administrators, [professors and] other parents.

Mary Melvin, aunt of Nakiyah Melvin ’23, also enjoyed returning to IC, particularly being around the beauty and nuance of the campus.

“It is a beautiful campus, it really is,” she said. “You've got a wide variety of housing [with] the apartments as well as the... dorms and everything else, so you get a little taste of everything.”

While surrounded by new and returning families, ICFC co-chairs Tom McCoy and  Sandi McCoy felt that Family Weekend epitomized the College’s strong and lasting sense of belonging.

Ithaca is a community,” Tom McCoy said. “This is what community is all about.”

Ithaca Means Progress

Progress is at the heart of college’s “Ithaca Forever” strategic plan, and no event embodied that mentality quite like the People of Progress panel, which featured alumni, faculty and staff. 

The panel, headed by interim president La Jene Terry Cornish, welcomed speakers from across the Ithaca College community: Beth Ryan ’22, a Barry Goldwater Scholarship recipient and biochemistry major; Belisa González, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; and Dave Prunty, executive director of auxiliary services.

The panel members, Cornish said, were individuals “who embody our institutional evolution through their journeys as a part of our campus community and through the essence of who they are as people.”

“We have identified members of our IC family who exemplify not only the power of an Ithaca College experience, but what it means to move into the future as one Ithaca Forever community.”

Interim president La Jerne Terry Cornish

“This year, the college is celebrating its identity as a place where progress never stops,” Cornish said. “As part of that celebration, we have identified members of our IC family who exemplify not only the power of an Ithaca College experience, but what it means to move into the future as one Ithaca Forever community.”

Ryan commented on how IC has facilitated a sense of home for her over the last four years in part through her numerous research projects, which culminated in her winning the Goldwater Scholarship. 

“Winning was great, but watching my professors' reactions, telling them I won was better,” she said. “Over the next four or five days after the information had sort of trickled down, I had gotten emails from about 90% of the chemistry faculty, a few biology professors I had in the past, and even some of my calculus and physics professors, just taking time out of their day to say entirely too nice things to me.” 

Ryan attributed much of her progress as a budding research chemist to the way her professors have nurtured and embraced her work.

View the Panel Discussion

You can watch the entire "People of Progress" panel here.

González touched on this same aspect of how she personally inspires her students towards progress, by asking them to re-think the way they would normally view 1960s abolitionist readings. Through changing the way that she approaches common topics in her classroom, she inspires narratives for her students to fully understand crucial topics.

“When I find myself getting too comfortable, and that includes my practice in the classroom, it’s time to look at something differently or stand somewhere else in a class. I think that’s the thing about innovation… It’s about changing the way we’re approaching the same material.”

Belisa González, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the study of Culture Race, and Ethnicity

“We want to keep it moving… When I find myself getting too comfortable, and that includes my practice in the classroom, it’s time to look at something differently or stand somewhere else in a class…” she said. “I think that’s the thing about innovation… It’s about changing the way we’re approaching the same material.”

Prunty extends the concept of progress beyond the classroom and into the physical campus.

Both the faculty and staff that work here are really so committed to our students... When I look around this campus, I see people that put their heart and soul on the line to help our students be successful because quite often our students are our ‘why,’” said Prunty.