The co-chairs of the search committee said they are just as excited to welcome Cornish to Ithaca College.
“She brings extensive experience in promoting student success initiatives, as well as a strong record on successful programs to build an inclusive environment for both faculty and students,” said Jean Hardwick, Dana professor of biology. “Her experiences as both the faculty chair—elected by her colleagues—and as associate provost, demonstrate her ability to work effectively with multiple constituencies to build coalitions and bring about meaningful and lasting change.”
“Dr. Cornish’s lengthy work both in K–12 and higher education administration, combined with her documented track record to inspire faculty to work together to effect change at a tuition-dependent institution, bodes well for Ithaca College,” said Jack Powers, associate professor of media arts, sciences and studies.
As the college’s chief academic officer, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs reports directly to the president and plays a significant role in strategic planning and implementation. The deans of the college’s five schools—Business, Communications, Health Sciences and Human Performance, Humanities and Sciences, and Music—report to the provost, who has responsibility for supporting and advancing the teaching, scholarship and development of faculty and for all matters related to academic programs and curricula.
José Bowen, president of Goucher College, offered his endorsement of Cornish as someone whose efforts have resonated across the campus and who has made a significant impact on thousands of students over the past two decades.
“La Jerne has been an integral leader of the Goucher community for 35 years, first as an undergraduate and graduate student, then as a professor, associate provost and parent,” said Bowen. “No one could have been a greater supporter of Goucher College or of our students, and I know she will bring the same commitment, enthusiasm and aspiration to Ithaca. Her wisdom and dedication will be missed, but we know she will do equally meaningful work at Ithaca.”
Cornish’s colleagues at Goucher echoed those sentiments.
“La Jerne Cornish brings an upbeat, insightful energy and ‘can do’ spirit into the room—whether it be a one-on-one consultation, a department meeting, an impromptu gathering or a scheduled assembly—that is at once infectious, forward looking and productive,” said Richard Pringle, professor of psychology.
“I have been privileged to work with La Jerne for the past 18 years in the Education Department, and have found her to be an intelligent, collaborative and treasured colleague,” said Ann Marie Longo, associate professor of education. “As a professor and administrator, La Jerne has strong relationships with students, faculty and staff. She always focuses on students’ learning, adjustment and well-being, both championing and challenging each and every student she encounters.”
Committed to educational issues locally and globally, Cornish helped establish Future Educators Associations in five Baltimore City middle schools and for over a dozen years has taken Goucher students to Grahamstown, South Africa, for a month-long program teaching English and mathematics to students in grades 5 through 7 in a rural and a township school. Her research interests include new teacher induction, culturally responsive teaching and campus responses to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to her work in education, Cornish is a commissioned lay pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where her ministerial focus has been congregational nurture and care for the past nine years. Her partner, Deborah Ptak, is the interim principal of Henderson-Hopkins, a Johns Hopkins University Partnership School in Baltimore City, and her son, Wayne, will graduate from Goucher in May.
Cornish will begin her new position at Ithaca College on July 1. She succeeds Linda Petrosino, who has served as provost since 2016. Petrosino will resume her role as dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance.