In what was billed as a “special edition” of Cornell University’s annual Town-Gown (TOGO) Awards ceremony, the new presidents of Tompkins County’s three higher education institutions—Martha E. Pollack of Cornell, Shirley M. Collado of Ithaca College, and Orinthia T. Montague of Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3)—each delivered remarks.
“We live, work, and learn in an incredibly unique environment; one that includes three institutions of higher education and thousands of invested and energetic community members,” said Collado. “All of us are fortunate to be a part of this environment, and to be among people who dedicate themselves to creating collaborations and connections that brighten our future and help us realize our potential. These are the people we honor today, and I am pleased to join so many others in thanking you for your good work.”
Held on Dec. 2 in Ithaca High School’s Kulp Auditorium, the TOGOs honored local leaders who have retired from or are leaving their elected or appointed positions this year. The event also recognized programs involving the three institutions that epitomize the positive relationships between town and gown.
Co-sponsored by the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and TC3, Leadership Tompkins educates future leaders about current county and regional issues and provides a forum for their active networking with current community leaders. Deb Mohlenhoff, TC3’s director of student activities, manages the program. Mohlenhoff is a 1992 Ithaca College graduate and led IC’s community service program before joining TC3. This year’s Leadership Tompkins class includes Erin Davis, executive director of creative strategy and development at Ithaca College.
Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (TST-BOCES)
Programs recognized for partnering with BOCES were the Teacher Research Fellows Inquiry Group (Ithaca College), Career Skills Program (Cornell), and CollegeNow (TC3).
The Teacher Research Fellows Inquiry Group is led by Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, chair of IC’s Department of Education; and Randi Beckmann, first-grade teacher at Belle Sherman Elementary School. The project forms a small community of teachers from across the region to engage in systematic study about their teaching. This research community grounds its work in the perspective that teachers are uniquely situated to investigate and analyze their own practice, and that such inquiry will result in better outcomes for their students. Teachers present their findings at regional professional conferences, local meetings, and the annual Conference on Teacher Inquiry held at Ithaca College.
The value that local college students bring to nonprofit community service agencies through their volunteer work was recognized by Kathleen Schlather, executive director of the Human Services Coalition. She noted the wide variety of activities that benefit local residents, including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program sponsored by the Ithaca College School of Business. Carlie McClinsey, president of the Student Governance Council, and Elijah Greene, student trustee, accepted the honor on behalf of all IC students.