Bob Dylan Concert Exemplifies College’s Strategic Plan

By Dan Verderosa, September 19, 2019
Community partnership, campus utilization and student experiential learning all surround music icon’s visit to Ithaca College.

Legendary folk-rocker Bob Dylan performing at Ithaca College would be big news in any year, but the event takes on greater meaning this year as the college begins to implement its strategic plan. The concert encompasses several of the themes and goals of Ithaca Forever, including community partnerships, utilization of all parts of the IC campus, and prioritizing experiential learning for students.

“Bob Dylan is known to be very bold in the music industry, and we believe we have a strategic plan that is very bold and not your standard off-the-shelf plan,” said Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration. “What could be a better way to help launch Ithaca Forever?”

The November 17 show is presented by local concert promoter DSP Shows and Madison House Presents. DSP Shows president Dan Smalls heard from Dylan’s manager in fall 2018 that he was interested in doing a college tour and Smalls suggested Ithaca College as a stop. Smalls said the Athletics and Events Center is ideal for a show like this because of its large capacity and the ability to change the floor layout depending on ticket sales. The Athletics and Events Center has a maximum capacity of 6,700. By comparison, the State Theatre in downtown Ithaca can accommodate 1,600 and Cornell University’s Barton Hall holds 4,800.

Ticket information

Bob Dylan and His Band perform at the IC Athletics and Events Center on Sunday, November 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at A limited number of $25 discounts are available for IC students only. Students can receive their discount by entering the first four digits of their student ID (without the dash) in the promo code field on the ticket purchase page.

Working with a local promoter like DSP Shows is a prime example of the community partnerships the college seeks to take advantage of to offer experiential learning opportunities to its students. DSP Shows is one of several partners involved in IC’s new specialized MBA in Entertainment and Media Management. Students in the program will rotate through different internship positions at DSP Shows, and will assist with the promotion of the concert at IC.

“Being part of the first class in this new MBA program, it’s truly exciting to be exposed to something so huge for the school, the town, and our program in just the first months of the semester,” Jacob Generali ’20 said. “My peers and I are eager to get to work with DSP Shows and the college to try and put on the best experience possible for each attendee.”

DSP Shows’ relationship with IC extends far beyond the MBA program.

“From the time I started the company, my first real intern was an IC student,” Smalls said. “We’ve worked closely with different programs [at the college] for years and years, and it’s been incredibly helpful.”

The partnership with DSP Shows also helps IC along its strategic goal of becoming a 12-month campus with events, activities and learning opportunities available year-round. “We want this to be the first of many shows we do together up there,” Smalls said.

Utilizing the full capacity of IC’s campus is another of the college’s goals that the concert makes progress toward. Hosting an event of this magnitude demonstrates that the Athletics and Events Center can be used to host other large-scale events in addition to athletics. 

“Not only is the A&E Center an Ithaca College asset, it is a community asset,” Guerrero said. “To leverage this space with a community partner like DSP shows and host a star like Bob Dylan for IC and the surrounding community was the mission of all those who created this magnificent space.”

IC Community Excited for Concert Weekend

When Bob Dylan and His Band roll onto campus, the students, faculty, staff and members of the local community in attendance will be treated to a performance by a genuine legend of American folk and rock music.

“It's rare to have legendary artists tour in locations that are not considered major cities across America, so to have Bob Dylan come back to Ithaca is truly exhilarating,” said Jacob Shelley ’22. “The people of Ithaca get to see one of the most influential musicians ever. They will be the perfect crowd, and I know they are as ecstatic as I am to see one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.”

Dylan last performed at Ithaca College in 1994, in a show held at Ben Light Gymnasium.

“It is really cool I don’t have to leave campus to see this show, because most DSP-sponsored events are either at the State Theater or the Haunt,” said Emma Scheneman ’21. “And who knows, maybe I’ll run into Bob Dylan at the Ithaca Bakery in the pub the day of the concert.”

“This is a perfect ending to the historic Cortaca Jug weekend — a legendary game followed by a legendary music icon.”

Bill Guerrero, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Dylan rose to fame in the 1960s with hit songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” Early in his career, Dylan saw himself carrying on the tradition of American folksinger Woody Guthrie, said associate professor of music theory John White, but he went on to help bridge the divide between acoustic folk music and electric rock and roll.

“His recording of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ was a watershed moment in American pop music, demonstrating the power of rock-influenced urban folk music that became immensely popular thereafter,” White said. “Throughout his career, Dylan continued to resist easy categorization, creating eclectic and innovative songs featuring poetic depth and social commentary.”

Dylan has won 10 Grammy Awards, one Academy Award and one Golden Globe Award. In 1988, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

The concert will close out a truly epic weekend for IC. The day before Bob Dylan takes the stage, IC will take on SUNY Cortland in the 2019 Cortaca Jug football game at MetLife Stadium.

“This is a perfect ending to the historic Cortaca Jug weekend — a legendary game followed by a legendary music icon,” Guerrero said.