News and Updates from the February 2021 Board of Trustees Meetings

By Dave Lissy and President Shirley M. Collado, February 15, 2021
A Message from Dave Lissy '87 and President Shirley M. Collado.

Dear Ithaca College Community,

We hope this message finds you healthy and safe as you get back into the swing of things this spring semester, and as South Hill welcomes IC students back to campus once again.

The Ithaca College Board of Trustees met last week on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Friday, Feb. 12, for its regular February meetings. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions and density requirements on Ithaca College’s South Hill campus, our meetings were once again held via Zoom. The board hopes to rejoin the IC community during our May meetings, as trustees sincerely miss opportunities to engage in person and on campus with faculty, staff, students, and one another.

Last week, trustees participated in a robust slate of committee meetings, immersion and community connection events, and three plenary sessions, which enabled us to take deep dives into areas of strategic significance for Ithaca College and transact items of importance to college business.

This was the first regular meeting for our newest trustee, Chris Palmieri ’96. His deep expertise in management and his commitment to the college is an incredible asset to our board, and we look forward to working with him over the next several years.

Connecting with the IC Community

This is undoubtedly a time of challenge and change for Ithaca College, and the board is committed to being accessible and responsive to the IC community, specifically by maintaining open dialogue with our college’s governance councils. This is even more critical when trustees cannot be on campus to host our usual open conversation with the chair and vice chair at the end of our board meetings.

At the end of the day on Thursday, the executive committees of the Faculty Council, Staff Council, and Student Governance Council joined in conversation with board Vice Chair Jim Nolan, Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish, and the two of us for an honest and productive dialogue. We focused on the academic program prioritization process, campus climate, student initiatives, and the importance of completing a successful and safe spring semester on South Hill.

Outside of the regular board meeting agenda, we also scheduled focused time on Wednesday with members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors to discuss the academic program prioritization process. Vice Chair Nolan and Vice President for Philanthropy and Engagement Wendy Kobler joined us for this conversation with our alumni leaders.

Both of these meetings addressed some difficult topics for our community, and we want to offer our gratitude for the respectful, honest dialogue and for the depth of feeling that these leaders have for the college and for their colleagues.

Immersion Experience

Understanding that this academic year has presented a unique set of challenges to teaching and learning at IC, trustees spent time Thursday afternoon in an immersion experience with Cynthia Henderson, Professor, Theatre Arts; Chrissy Guest, Associate Professor, Media Arts, Sciences and Studies; Nicholas Walker, Professor, Music Performance; and students August Bish ’21, Jessica Brock ’22, Emma Fruhling ’21, and Jasmine Rodriguez ’24. This session provided trustees with an opportunity to learn how our faculty are leveraging their talents and creatively collaborating this year to deliver an excellent experience for our students.

Trustees were impressed by the innovative and interdisciplinary work and appreciated this session to connect with campus stakeholders to get a real-time understanding of what it takes to offer a high-quality learning experience amid a pandemic. Our thanks to the professors and students who shared their time with us. 

Return to Campus

Trustees also met with Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life Rosanna Ferro; Christina Moylan, the college’s director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness; and Tim Carey, associate vice president for facilities; for an update on the Return to Campus process and progress. The amount of work, dedication, and cooperation that so many members of the IC community have put into bringing students back for this spring semester is both astounding and impressive. The board is incredibly grateful.

Plenary Sessions

Each regular board meeting features a slate of plenary sessions — opportunities for board members to take a deep and strategic dive into key areas of the college’s business operations. Last week, board members participated in plenary sessions around the following topics:

Financial Health and Sustainability

Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration, shared an updated forecast on the budget for FY21; our endowment performance; the impact of COVID on college finances; and the evolving draft budget for FY22. The board will vote on the FY22 budget during its May meetings. During this session, Hayley Harris, vice president for human resources and planning, provided an update on our human capital management. 

Strategic Pricing and Value Strategy

Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Laurie Koehler and trustee Jeff Selingo ’95, co-chairs of the board’s newly formed Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Committee, led the board in a conversation around the college’s strategic pricing and value strategy, which is a critical and major component of the college’s overall marketing and enrollment strategy.

This plenary generated discussion about Ithaca College’s positioning within the national landscape and within our peer group and resulted in a defined, data-driven framework aligned with the college’s strategic plan, Ithaca Forever, that will better position us to yield and retain students.This is thoughtful and exciting student-centered work, and trustees unanimously voted during our business meeting to adopt the blueprint for the strategic pricing and value strategy created by the board’s MES Committee.

Academic Program Prioritization Process

President Collado, Provost Cornish, and the members of the Academic Program Prioritization Implementation Committee (APPIC) joined the board for a discussion of the draft recommendations contained in the “Shape of the College” document.

This plenary provided an opportunity for trustees to share their thoughts and insights about the draft recommendations, understanding that the recommendations are under a period of faculty review and that the APPIC will provide final recommendations to President Collado and Provost Cornish later this week. As the campus community is aware, the president and provost’s final decision on the submitted recommendations will be shared before the end of February.

Trustees were incredibly impressed by the work of the APPIC, and grateful to the committee and the many campus stakeholders who have provided input throughout this process that is so very important to the future of the college. 

Faculty Promotions and Emeriti

Our February meetings are a time when trustees recognize and honor the work of the college’s faculty by approving recommendations for tenure and promotion and professors emeriti. This year, eight faculty were approved for tenure and promotion to associate professor, one faculty member was promoted to professor, and five faculty have been designated professors emeriti. Please read the full story about this cohort of faculty and join us in congratulating them on their important milestones.

We want to close this message by affirming the strength of Ithaca College and the capacity for this institution to flourish, guided by our values, our commitment to our students, and our strategic plan, Ithaca Forever. There are major decisions and choices ahead, and we have full faith in the resiliency of the college and this community.

The board looks forward to the possibility of being back on campus in May for our next slate of meetings on May 20 and 21, to engage in person with this community and to celebrate our Class of 2021 graduates.



David H. Lissy ’87
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees

Shirley M. Collado
President, Ithaca College