Collado Rallies Campus Around ‘Ithaca Forever’

By Dan Verderosa, August 30, 2019
At all-college gathering, President Shirley M. Collado urges Ithaca College community to invest in strategic plan.

Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado called on the campus community to get involved with the implementation of the “Ithaca Forever” strategic plan during the Fall 2019 All-College Gathering on Thursday, August 29, in Emerson Suites. The nine-goal strategic framework for IC’s future puts the student experience at the core of the college’s work.

Collado asked students, faculty and staff to think about the people who brought bold change to IC throughout the college’s 126-year history, such as the relocation of the campus from downtown Ithaca to South Hill or the diversification of the student body.

“In this moment, we are those people. In this moment, all of us in the room, we are the visionaries. We are the doers,” she said. “We are the ones who are going to build this piece of IC’s history.”

Collado thanked the community for its contributions to the strategic planning process and invited all to attend an open forum on the implementation of the plan on Tuesday, September 3, from 12:10-1:05 p.m. in Textor Hall 102.

“Make no mistake, this is a bold plan, and all of the members of this community — our faculty, our staff, our students, our local community members — will be involved in bringing it to life,” she said.

College-Wide Updates

Collado shared other news from around the college, including recent changes to the senior leadership team. Laurie Koehler joined the college as vice president for marketing and enrollment strategy, Wendy Kobler will shortly start as the new vice president for institutional advancement, and Hayley Harris joined IC as vice president for human and organizational development and planning. Bob Wagner has joined the president’s team as chief communications officer.

She also noted that Melanie Stein joined the college over the summer as dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. Seventy new faculty members and 170 new staff members joined the college for the new academic year. Approximately 100 of the new staff members come from Sodexo as a result of IC’s switch to “in-house” dining services.

“I attended many of the [orientation] events, and I’m so proud of the thoughtful, expert work done to make this class and their families’ connection to this institution feel so welcoming.”

President Shirley M. Collado

Collado provided an update on 2019 enrollment, which at approximately 1,600 new students was higher than previously expected. She also noted that, for the first time in many years, incoming students attended a single orientation week prior to the semester. “I attended many of the events, and I’m so proud of the thoughtful, expert work done to make this class and their families’ connection to this institution feel so welcoming,” she said.

Koehler gave additional insight into enrollment for 2019, and announced that first- and second-year retention rates are expected to go up 1.4%, the second consecutive year that it has increased. “In the world of college enrollment data, that is a big gain,” she said.

Sharing insight from her 20-year career, Koehler said that enrollment is more than getting students to campus; it is ensuring that they have a transformative experience and leave the college with a degree. She said the college’s strategic plan speaks to successful enrollment. “Being responsive to the changing needs and expectations of students, thinking across disciplines the way that this generation is already wired to do, building a community that embraces students from places and backgrounds less commonly represented on our campus in the past: These are exciting opportunities we each have a role in realizing to make IC the best that it can be.”

Collado also provided a financial update, highlighting a $5.5 million operating margin, compared with $4.1 million the previous year. The college’s endowment now stands at $343 million.

People standing while a crowd of seated people applaud

Members of the Dining Services team stand to be recognized for their efforts to improve the campus dining experience.

“Now I want to be very clear here: these numbers do not tell us that everything is fine. These numbers do not tell us that we can go about our business as usual,” Collado said. “What they tell us actually is that at this point in history we’re holding our own while balancing a sense of urgency in a higher-ed landscape… that is constantly changing. Thankfully, we are actually operating from a position of strength with a bold and realistic strategic plan that enables us to be forward-thinking and nimble.”

Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration, shared more details about the college’s finances and budgeting process. He thanked the campus community for tightening their budgets in order to free up resources to implement the strategic plan. “That’s what a budget is,” he said. “A budget is taking the strategic plan and translating that into numbers.”

Guerrero also praised the college’s dining team and the collaborative effort put forth across campus to bring dining services in-house. He also noted that deferred maintenance projects finished on time and on budget this summer. Guerrero praised efforts to promote environmental sustainability on campus, stating that only 1.6% of the college’s endowment is invested in fossil fuels, and that more socially responsible investments were added to employee retirement fund options.

Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, gave an update from her division. After extensive research and conversations around health and wellness, Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty will oversee this area for the current academic year, focusing on the integration of all student health and wellness programs. A review of the effectiveness of that structure will be performed to determine the need for further changes. Ferro also announced that Career Services and the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network are now a part of the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life. She also announced a new after-hours Counseling and Psychological Services phone service for students and expanded hours for the on-campus food pantry.

Ferro also provided highlights from the Fall 2019 Orientation, such as high attendance at nightly social events, 700 family members participating in family sessions, and academic sessions designed by each school. Finally, she gave an update on the 2019 Cortaca Jug game at MetLife Stadium, noting that it has created integrative learning opportunities for students.

Community Highlights

Collado also took time to share some success stories and updates from across campus. She noted that the college received high rankings from Princeton Review for its theatre program, student newspaper and student radio station.

The college also received several large gifts and grants, including a $30 million gift from the Park Foundation and the estate of Roy and Dorothy Park to establish an endowment for the Park Scholar program. IC also received eight grants from the National Science Foundation, including a $1.1 million grant to address teacher shortages in the STEM fields and a $650,000 grant to recruit and retain low-income, academically talented STEM students. Associate professor Doug Turnbull also received a $220,000 research grant for his computer science work exploring the use of apps to promote local music.

“Changes to our dining program were monumental.”

President Shirley M. Collado

Collado congratulated Stephanie Mooney ’21 for her selection as a Killam Fellow by Fulbright Canada. She recognized the 2019-20 President’s Fellows: staff members Laurie Pancoast and Susan Shutts, faculty members Thomas Swensen and Judith Pena-Shaff, and students Christine King ’20 and Wren Murray ’20.

She also shared updates on recent changes on campus, such as improvements completed over the summer by the Facilities staff, and the transition to in-house dining services, which resulted in collaborations with local food purveyors like Ithaca Bakery. “Changes to our dining program were monumental,” Collado said.

At the conclusion of the gathering, Collado and the senior leadership team took questions from the audience.