Experienced Legal Advisor to Lead Counsel’s Office

By Bob Wagner, July 9, 2018
Guilherme Costa named vice president and general counsel at Ithaca College, and will begin his new role on September 10.
A bearded man wearing glasses and a business suit
(Photo provided)

Guilherme Costa, who has served for the past three years as the chief legal officer of the public university system in South Dakota, has been named vice president and general counsel at Ithaca College. He will assume his new position on September 10. He previously spent five years with the counsel’s office at the University of Idaho, and was an attorney at one of the nation’s leading full-service law firms.

At Ithaca College, Costa will report directly to President Shirley M. Collado and be responsible for providing executive and administrative direction over the college’s legal affairs. He will also serve as secretary to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees.

“Throughout his career, Guilherme has demonstrated an innovative and creative leadership style as well as a dedication to higher education,” said Collado. “His depth and breadth of experience and collaborative approach will help advance the college’s goals of providing a deeply student-centered learning community and safe, productive working environment that values full participation.”

Costa will have responsibility for a wide range of legal, regulatory, compliance, insurance and risk management matters affecting the institution, in addition to providing support, advice and assistance to the board of trustees, president, senior leaders, faculty and staff. Reporting to him will be the associate counsel, assistant counsel, director of risk management and insurance, and Title IX coordinator.

“I am thrilled to be joining such a wonderful community,” said Costa. “Initially, it was the description of the role that captured my interest. Then, the faculty, staff, and students I met confirmed for me that Ithaca College is a special place. President Collado is an inspirational leader and I am excited to join a senior team comprised of dynamic individuals who bring unique experiences and perspectives that will be instrumental in transforming higher education and advancing the mission of Ithaca College.”

“Throughout his career, Guilherme has demonstrated an innovative and creative leadership style as well as a dedication to higher education. His depth and breadth of experience and collaborative approach will help advance the college’s goals of providing a deeply student-centered learning community and safe, productive working environment that values full participation.”

President Shirley M. Collado

As announced last fall, longtime general counsel and board secretary Nancy Pringle will serve through June of 2019 as executive vice president. Reflecting her 24 years of leadership at the college, Pringle will serve as a senior advisor to President Collado and continue to have oversight of the Office of Human Resources during the transition year. In addition, Pringle will work closely with Costa during his initial year as IC’s general counsel and secretary to the board of trustees.

“I look forward to welcoming Guilherme to the Ithaca College community and working with him in his role as secretary to the board of trustees, particularly as our board leadership is transitioning,” said Dave Lissy ’87, who began his tenure as board chair on June 1. “His legal expertise and experience in higher education will be a critical asset to us. I am thrilled that he will spend his first year working with Nancy Pringle to help ensure that he has a smooth transition and the benefit of the rich experience and knowledge base that she has developed over her long tenure.”

Named in 2015 as general counsel for the South Dakota Board of Regents, the constitutional governing body of the state’s six public universities and two special schools, Costa provides legal advice to the board, executive director/CEO, system senior staff, presidents and vice presidents of six public universities, and other administrators both at the system office and on the individual campuses. These encompass all areas of law relevant to higher education, including personnel and employment issues, tenure and promotion, labor law, civil rights, Title IX sexual harassment, student affairs, contracts, risk management and academic freedom. He works with federal and state entities, including the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the legislature, on matters of interest to the board of regents.

“Guilherme is an accomplished attorney and administrator,” said Mike Rush, retired executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents and the Idaho State Board of Education. “As the general counsel for the South Dakota Board of Regents, he distinguished himself as a knowledgeable, articulate advocate for higher education.” Rush continued, “Guilherme has a deep grasp of the legal issues surrounding higher education and a unique ability to clearly communicate that information in an understandable way. Ithaca College has made a great hire.”

The co-chairs of the general counsel search committee said Costa’s credentials rose above a deep pool of highly qualified candidates and they are pleased to welcome him to the college.

“I am excited to join a senior team comprised of dynamic individuals who bring unique experiences and perspectives that will be instrumental in transforming higher education and advancing the mission of Ithaca College.”

Guilherme Costa

“I’m excited to have Guilherme join the IC family as our next general counsel,” said Melissa Daly, chief of staff in the Office of the President. “His background spans a broad spectrum of legal areas in higher education and he has extensive experience in governance and student affairs matters that will serve the college well.”

Steven Mauk, professor of performance studies in IC’s School of Music, said, “The search committee was particularly impressed with Guilherme’s experience and commitment to collaboration. He will be a very important partner to President Collado and her senior leadership team as well as to the board of trustees.”

Costa earned his juris doctor degree in 2008 from the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he served as a law clerk in the Office of General Counsel. He was awarded a Wurzer Law Fellowship, took part in a public interest law urban immersion program in Chicago, and served as an officer with the Hispanic Law Students Association. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida — in business administration and in political science — and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho in adult/organizational learning and leadership.

His first position out of law school was as an associate attorney in the healthcare practice group at the Washington, D.C., office of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. In 2010, he joined the Office of General Counsel at the University of Idaho as an associate general counsel. He was promoted to deputy general counsel, where he led the administrative operations of the office in addition to continuing to carry an independent generalist practice workload advising administrators on all areas of the law relevant to higher education, with emphasis on student affairs, business operations, litigation and regulatory/compliance issues.

Costa is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and serves on the editorial board of its Journal of College and University Law.