Dear Ithaca College community,
The Ithaca College Board of Trustees met on Ithaca College’s campus last week, February 14-15, for our winter meetings. We are pleased to share with you now the update below regarding the business actions taken by the board and the many ways the trustees engaged around the strong work happening on so many levels here at IC.
The tenor of our two-day meeting was busy, collaborative, intense and enthusiastic, as we focused deeply on our collective efforts to advance the mission of this institution. Trustees also had many opportunities to make connections with our faculty, staff and students, including a dinner celebrating our newly tenured and promoted faculty, a panel discussion about the future of higher education, a luncheon meeting with members of the college’s three governance councils and an open conversation in Klingenstein Lounge between members of our board and our community. We plan to make the open conversation a standing event during each of the meetings that happen on campus, and last Thursday’s gathering saw IC faculty, staff and students sharing their thoughts and concerns, and asking questions about the work trustees do and the structure and function of the board.
From left to right: Grace Elletson '19, Luke Keller, Jeff Selingo '95, Shirley M. Collado and Orinthia Montague at the panel on issues in higher education. (Photo by Stetson Doggett)
The next board meeting will be at Ithaca College, from May 18-19, intentionally timed so our trustees can participate in the May 20 Commencement ceremony and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students with their families and with our campus community.
We give our sincere appreciation to the members of our board who generously contributed their time and energy to focus deeply on the work of the college. We also give our heartfelt gratitude to the many faculty, staff and students who engaged with the trustees during their stay on campus. Those interactions illustrated so vividly for our trustees the incredible talent to be found here, and our great potential as a college and a community. The success of this institution we cherish relies on our shared work, and we are so encouraged by the energy, honesty and investment that was clearly apparent during our gathering last week.
We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months and years.
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees
President, Ithaca College
Painting a Cohesive Picture of the Ithaca College Experience and Forecasting the College’s Future
On the first day of meetings for the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, we had the pleasure of hearing from a wide representation of staff at Ithaca College during an agenda packed with deep-dive plenary sessions. These interesting, informative sessions were carefully curated to provide board members with an in-depth understanding of the current work in major areas of focus at the college and how these areas are impacted by the forces at play in the greater context of higher education.
Nationally, institutions of higher education are grappling with the changing demographics of students who are graduating from high school and pursuing a college education. In the northeast, in particular, we are seeing these changing demographics reflected strongly. Gerard Turbide, vice president for enrollment management, shared important information around these current trends and how they influence IC’s enrollment and recruitment efforts. Turbide also updated the board on the data around applications to date and the college’s long-term efforts to build an applicant pool at a steady rate, populated by students who are truly interested in an Ithaca College experience. Turbide was joined by Nicole Eversley Bradwell, director for admission, who delivered a portrait of “Generation Z,” and strategies on how the college can best serve the needs of a forthcoming student population that is technologically reliant, entrepreneurial, socially complex and frugal in its approach to a higher education experience. Members of the college’s communications team then shared their approach to the creation of communications specifically tailored to reach this audience.
Turbide and Eversley Bradwell’s work dovetailed into a robust discussion guided by Rosanna Ferro, vice president of student affairs and campus life, and members of her team regarding the re-imagining of the IC student experience. One of the components of this portion of our discussion that captured the board’s interest revolved around the work that the college’s Office of Public Safety is doing to demonstrate its commitment to developing outreach efforts within the campus community, in addition to providing the day-to-day work of law enforcement. It was impressive to see examples of how our public safety personnel are engaging with students, faculty and staff. The ongoing cultivation of relationships guided by collaboration and partnership will help us find success in a dynamic campus community.
A highlight for many members of the board came on Wednesday, February 14, with a luncheon held with trustees, vice presidents, deans and the leadership of the faculty, staff and student governance councils. Tom Swensen, chair of faculty council; Candy Ross, chair of staff council; and Carlie McClinsey, chair of the student governance council, provided information to the board about the ways in which they are engaging with their constituent groups to not only identify challenges and opportunities, but generate participation and investment in the life of the college. Following the presentation, participants discussed questions around shared governance, which explored the creation of an institutional culture dedicated to the values of accountability, inclusion, transparency and trust.
In advance of the luncheon, trustees read President Collado’s blog post about shared governance, to place the current work within the context of an existing evolution toward a more inclusive model of leadership at Ithaca College. The board fully supports the work of the three councils in developing a thoughtful dialogue around shared governance on campus, and we were pleased to participate in such a creative, illuminating forum.
Board members also heard from Middle States self-study co-chairs Bonnie Prunty, director of residential life and judicial affairs, and Luke Keller, professor of physics and astronomy, who provided an update on the college’s successfully concluded self-study. A small group of trustees will be on campus next week to participate in the Middle States reaccreditation team review process.
Approved Business and Updates from Board Committees
The plenary sessions provided both context and a springboard for the second day of the board’s meetings, which saw the trustees breaking into our committees to discuss the business of the college and lay groundwork for the future actions of the board.
Our educational affairs committee brought forth resolutions for board consideration approving tenure and promotion for 15 faculty members and the designation of Professor Emeritus status for five faculty members. The board unanimously approved these resolutions, and you are invited to read the full story here.
The board unanimously approved a change to the faculty handbook extending updated family leave benefits to the college’s tenured and tenure-eligible faculty, as well as non-tenure-eligible faculty. In November 2017, the college’s Division of Human Resources announced to the community the changes at the state level governing paid family leave. The state provisions expressly exclude faculty, and the board’s action last week sought to codify the extension of the same family leave provisions that are offered to our staff, to our faculty. The board understands the importance of work-life balance for all members of our college community, and we are committed to ensuring that our staff and faculty feel supported in their lives and professions.
Lastly, at this time of renewed strategic investment in key areas, our board’s finance committee is continuing its diligent, careful work with the senior leadership of the college to finalize the 2018-2019 budget for the college’s operations. A separate announcement about this item of the board’s business will be released prior to the May board meeting, and the campus community will be informed of the new budget at that time.
Between the business we conducted and our informative plenary sessions, the board’s February meetings enabled all participants to share their expertise and commitment to Ithaca College. The strong, collaborative work of our college community will collectively shape the future of our institution, and we look forward to returning to campus in May to further advance the business of the college and celebrate our 2018 graduates at Commencement.