News and Updates from the February Ithaca College Board of Trustees Meetings

By David H. Lissy '87 and La Jerne Terry Cornish, February 15, 2023

A message from Board of Trustees Chair David H. Lissy ’87 and President La Jerne Terry Cornish.

Dear Ithaca College Community,

The Ithaca College Board of Trustees convened on campus last week for its winter meetings, held Wednesday through Friday, February 8-10. A full slate of exciting activities afforded trustees opportunities to engage with and learn from and about students, faculty, and staff; immerse themselves in academic and extracurricular campus life; and deepen their understanding of Ithaca College’s place — and of its promise — in a changing higher education landscape.

Connecting in Solidarity and Celebration

One highlight of this year’s meetings was the opportunity to attend the Department of Athletics Scholar-Athlete Luncheon. Held in Emerson Suites, this annual event celebrates the exceptional achievements of current junior, senior, and graduate scholar-athletes. A hearty congratulations to the 63 outstanding scholar-athletes who were recognized at this year’s ceremony!

Following the luncheon and a full day of plenaries and presentations, trustees thoroughly enjoyed spending time with executive committee members from Faculty Council, Staff Council, and Student Governance Council during a reception and dinner that took place in the Campus Center. Trustees heard from each tri-council leader about their priorities and plans for this semester.

Immersion Initiatives

Both in and out of the classroom, across all five schools, IC students put theoretical concepts they learn in coursework into practice through experiential learning.

As many of these activities involve people, institutions, and locations beyond the college’s boundaries, the “Connecting Classroom to Community” immersion was designed to bring trustees together with students, faculty, and staff to highlight the ways in which IC’s academic experience is meaningfully connected to the community. The presentations showcased 18 Ithaca College initiatives, including monitoring the water quality in Cayuga Lake, providing free tax preparation services for low-income Ithaca community members, sharing public relations expertise with nonprofit organizations, and engaging with and highlighting STEM careers with local students at the Ithaca Youth Bureau.

Trustees had an opportunity to immerse themselves in another crucial component of life on our residential campus during a presentation on dining services by Tim Downs, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, Jeff Golden, associate vice president for auxiliary services, and Reginald Briggs, interim head of dining services. As a result of this session, trustees gained a recognition and deeper appreciation of the challenges that impact our dining services and applaud the efforts of the college’s dining leadership team to continue to enhance the quality and variety of offerings to our students.

Educational Deep Dives

On Wednesday, February 8, our IC community was honored to host a lively discussion in Emerson Suites featuring three distinguished higher education authorities: New York Times best-selling author and trustee Jeff Selingo ’95, enrollment strategist Adrienne Amador Oddi, and economics professor and author Dr. Nathan Grawe.

After graciously sharing his perspectives with the panelists and an audience of students, faculty, staff, and community members, Trustee Selingo presented at a dedicated plenary for trustees on Friday, during which he provided in-depth context to deepen their understanding of the current landscape in higher education. On behalf of our entire Ithaca College community, we thank Trustee Selingo for his commitment to sharing his expertise with his alma mater.

Trustees continued to enrich their understanding of trends in higher education — and how Ithaca College is responding to them — during a presentation on the impact of the college’s Center for Student Success and Retention (CSSR). Dr. Elizabeth Bleicher, dean for student success and retention, and Dr. Jacqueline Winslow, executive director for student success and retention, provided trustees with detailed updates on the center’s efforts to date.

CSSR’s work is grounded in six primary strategic initiatives, one of which is the development of a research agenda to identify key opportunities to impact the overall student experience, with the goal of influencing retention and graduation rates. Launched in August 2022, the center has made great progress on overarching systemic changes while also having already directly served over 300 students throughout the fall semester.

Trustees further immersed themselves in the college’s efforts to remove barriers to student success during an educational deep dive on the college’s financial aid strategy. Shana Gore, executive director of student financial services, and Laurie Koehler, vice president for marketing and enrollment strategy, shared how IC has developed and implemented new approaches to our financial aid strategy to better leverage resources, strengthen enrollment, and provide greater transparency to students and their families and supporters.

Board Action

During its business meeting, the board voted to approve tenure and promotions for 15 faculty members and designated two retired faculty members as professors emeriti. On behalf of the board, we congratulate these past and present members of our faculty for their outstanding achievements and their contributions to our learning community.

Our business meeting saw the approval of the early release of necessary funds for annual capital expenditures (which covers line items such as facilities updates; exterior cleaning; and maintenance, repair, and replacement work in areas that need it. The early release enables the college to begin the planning, scheduling, and ordering of material for this work, which will primarily take place this summer to lessen disruption to the campus.

We also wish to share our immense appreciation with the many members of our community who collaborated to provide trustees with opportunities to immerse themselves in the IC experience. Thank you for superbly showcasing life on South Hill.

The board meets again from Thursday, May 18, through Saturday, May 20, when trustees anticipate another exciting slate of opportunities to support and engage with our community.

We thank you all once again for your dedication to the college, and to one another.


David H. Lissy ’87
Chair, Board of Trustees

La Jerne Terry Cornish