The Ithaca College Board of Trustees elected seven new members at its May 2017 meeting. We conducted a Q&A with them, and published the answers from four of them in Part One on August 25. Here are insights from the remaining three: Michael Conover ’81, Jack Dembow ’77 and William Nelligan III ’83.
Why did you want to join the board?
Michael J. Conover: Many of the successes I have had in life have come from the foundational experiences in my education, athletics and how I built friendships/relationships while at IC. I have been fortunate in my life, and the experiences I gained at IC were the start of the journey that made me into what I am today. Serving as a trustee is my way of ensuring others will benefit from the IC experience, like I did.
Jack Dembow: Ithaca College matters to me. Helping to 'future proof' the college will assure others will have the same experience I did — but for many, many years to come.
William Nelligan III: Ithaca College gave me much more than an education. It gave me my professors and mentors, my friends, the opportunities I had to figure out who I was as a person, and my family, having met my wife [Ann Nelligan '86] at Ithaca. These things made a difference in my life. I'm happy to do whatever I can to help the college and its students.
What special skills, particular expertise, etc. do you offer the board and/or Ithaca College?
MC: As a partner in a “big 4” accounting firm, my skills in business, specifically finance (my major at IC), risk and governance will allow me to leverage best practices and leading-edge thinking as IC enters the next generation of its history in higher education. Times are changing in higher education due to the costs of education, the student loan burden and other shifts in the demographics. As a trustee, my role is to provide innovative thinking to the administration.
JD: My experience as chair of Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center — one of the nation’s largest LGBT health and social service agencies — may help to support the college as it continues to understand and negotiate complex issues regarding diversity, inclusion and understanding among all facets of the college and Ithaca communities: students, staff, administration, local residents, businesses, etc.
WN: I bring many years of professional leadership experience in global business to my role as a trustee, specifically in the information, technology and services industry. One of my goals is to offer this knowledge and background to advance the mission of the college and benefit IC students.
What are some of the best things about Ithaca College?
MC: Our programs to make sure students are ready upon graduation for either the job market or continuing education are key differentiators in the higher education marketplace.
JD: At Ithaca, if you have an idea, there is always someone who can help you think it through and then, if it makes sense, help to make it a reality. I’m reminded of my study abroad at the London Center, where there was no specific programming in healthcare administration (my major), yet my department chair arranged for an independent study of England’s National Health System (NHS), and I reported weekly to an IC professor who happened to be on sabbatical in London.
WN: My degree from IC was in finance, and I had a great experience in the business school when I was a student. I received an outstanding education that, looking back on it now, gave me an excellent foundation that has served me well in my career. The small campus and small student population is also one of the best things about IC. It gave me—and gives students today—many real opportunities to get to know people (friends, classmates and professors).
What excites you about the college's future?
MC: We are entering a new chapter in the 125-year IC story. The “higher calling” and sense of “purpose” that IC culture has with its students, faculty and staff are a great starting point for our ninth president of the college, Dr. Collado. President Collado’s vision and energy will bring the college campus to a new level in higher education, and I am lucky to be part of her team.
JD: This is a college that is not trying to “find itself.” It knows who it is, and what it does well. So, moving forward, it can focus its energies and resources on doing what it already does well — but even better. Its programs and professors are well respected and, in many cases, have become a draw for students around the country. Our new president has inherited not a mess, but instead a stable, forward-thinking, well-respected institution. But a new set of eyes and ears is always welcome — change is good.
WN: I remain involved with the School of Business, and I am excited about Dean Sean Reid. His vision for the school and his strategic leadership is going to continue to help establish its national and worldwide reputation and offer innovative, practical programs to students. I am also really excited about President Collado, and I look forward to seeing how her leadership will shape this institution.
What’s something about you that people might be surprised to learn?
MC: Despite the many, many millions of miles I have flown in my life, all over the world, I prefer the 4+ hour quiet drive to IC over the fancy restaurants in Hong Kong or the airport lounges in Dubai. There is something about the drive up Route 17 to Route 96B that relaxes me. Maybe it is the limited cell phone coverage!
JD: I am an accomplished ceramicist. I have been throwing pottery since it was an elective art class at Syosset High School in New York, and I maintain a complete pottery studio in my home. My friends and relatives are probably sick of getting “another bowl from Jack.”
WN: I lived for three years in Tokyo, Japan, with my wife and four children.