Gerard Turbide joined the Ithaca College Office of Admission in 1993, rising through a series of progressively responsible roles to become director of admission in 2006. This past May he was named vice president for enrollment management, overseeing the Offices of Admission, Career Services, Enrollment Planning, Institutional Research and Student Financial Services.
What gets you interested and excited to come into the office every day?
First, it’s working with our students toward helping them fulfill their goals. They are the whole reason I am in this line of work, and Ithaca College is a special place in terms of what we have available to set students up to reach their goals: the diversity of the programs, the nature of the curriculum, and the dedication of the faculty. So I’m always excited to talk with students about their experiences and their plans, and I’m always just blown away by the kinds of activities that our students are engaged in. The level that they’re at is truly impressive, and it keeps me coming back.
Second, it’s working with my colleagues. I’ve been here at Ithaca for 20-plus years, and I have come to know and love many people across the campus. I appreciate how people believe in our mission and what we do, and it’s inspiring to me. It’s always been important to me who I work with, just as much as the nature of the work that I’m doing.
How much interaction do you have with prospective students and their families, as opposed to current students?
I think to truly accomplish your goals working in enrollment management, you have to see it as all connected. So future Ithaca students, current Ithaca students, Ithaca college alumni — they are all part of this continuum. Good luck convincing a student to attend any college without making genuine connections with the students who are already there. I think, more than anything, that’s what makes the difference in the decision-making process for prospective students who are considering Ithaca College. So to be effective in working with families, you have to have a genuine, true understanding of the campus community, and that starts with our students.
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
I would say affordability of higher education, which in general creates a very difficult landscape for anyone working in enrollment management. Private higher education is expensive, but it’s an investment, and you have to look at it from that angle. We do everything we can to help make an Ithaca College education an attainable investment for families, but it is a very challenging dynamic as you look at access to higher education across the country, and we certainly experience some of those challenges.
And what are the biggest rewards?
Watching students at Commencement, and the joy in their faces. You can see it in their eyes — the future and the possibilities moving forward. It’s very exciting. In a similar way, working with families as they get to that moment where they realize, “This is the place that I want to be as a student. I’ve found my next home. I’ve found the place where I can realize my dreams.” That’s a very special moment, and we have a lot of those moments happen during the Ithaca Today program, for example, when we have students and families visiting campus, and you can see the relief, the resolution that happens. It’s very rewarding to know that your work to help familiarize students with the campus community and its set of programs has done what it is intended to do. They’ve made that connection, they’ve figured out that they fit.
Is there such a thing as a typical day in the office for you?
There is consistency in that I get to interact daily with colleagues I appreciate and respect and like being in the room with, and the nature of the work that we are doing together is motivating and challenging. But there are also new wrinkles every day. I am really excited right now about the conversations that are happening across the campus about student success. We have the Student Success Committee that’s working right now, co-chaired by [Associate Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications] Bryan Roberts and [Associate Professor of English and Exploratory Program Director] Elizabeth Bleicher. We just conducted a search for a new chief analytics and awarded the role to Dr. Yuko Mulugetta. My sense of some of the greatest possibilities for how we can advance the college’s analytics efforts have to do with how we can better understand the factors that lead to student success, and how we can be more intentional about making sure those things happen, and therefore likely improve some of those outcomes.
What is the most recent new thing that you have learned about Ithaca College?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a new thing I’ve learned, but it’s an affirmation of something. I recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon sponsored by the Center for Faculty Excellence, where members of our faculty were receiving Faculty Excellence Awards. It was striking — the level of their accomplishments, the amazing projects, research, and work that they are doing with our students. It was a special moment to be in the room and have the opportunity to see faculty celebrate one another and congratulate one another for those accomplishments, and it really just reaffirmed for me how special, how excellent, and how engaging our faculty are and how committed they are to our student success. So that was a powerful moment for me.
Finally, what might be the thing that others at Ithaca College would be most surprised to learn about you?
I have an amazing daughter, who has just finished her freshman year at another institution of higher education, and she recently completed an immersion experience in Malawi. If I ever have any concern about whether I’ve made an impact or a difference in this world, I just have to look at her and think about what she has done so far in her short life of 19 years to make a difference in the lives of other people, and the potential that she has to change things moving forward. I’m very proud of that and I’m very humbled by that. She is probably my number one hero and role model in life.
Others knowing that maybe makes me more real to people, but it also connects me to my commitment to students here in a very meaningful way as well. The experience I had being on the parent end of the college search process with her, that we had as a family, and the empathy that created for me in what families experience, taught me probably more than I’d learned in at least several years of working professionally in the field. Those insights have been very powerful for me, and I think have shaped, in a very significant way, my perspective as a professional.