We are pleased to share with you the following summary of our most recent board of trustees meetings, held Thursday and Friday, September 29-30, on our South Hill campus. These intensive sessions offer an opportunity for our board not only to come together and collaborate around the business of the institution, but also to connect trustees with the IC experience and with the many people, topics, initiatives, and moments that define us as a college community.
The board’s fall meetings were intentionally scheduled so that trustees could participate in activities surrounding the presidential inauguration and Family Weekend. On Saturday morning, our community gathered for Ithaca Together, the formal installation of La Jerne Terry Cornish as the college’s 10th president. That evening, we were thrilled to join our students and families in experiencing the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Inaugural Celebration and Showcase. Both events demonstrated the tremendous dedication and talent of our students, faculty, and staff as we celebrated this next chapter in the college’s history.
These celebrations also overlapped with Family Weekend, affording families the opportunity to take in the historic festivities and deepen their connection to the IC experience. We were fortunate to enjoy a few days of sunny weather on South Hill which, along with the Apple Harvest Festival on the downtown Commons, contributed to a wonderful weekend for our visiting parents and families.
Engaging with Our College Community
One of the most anticipated parts of our board meetings are opportunities for trustees to connect with members of the college community.
During this year’s fall meetings, trustees had the chance to immerse themselves in the IC student experience through attending classes across the college’s five schools. Participating in these classes brought trustees together with students, faculty, and staff and provided important moments for members of our board to engage with the academic programs, opportunities, and experiences Ithaca College provides. Board members and the faculty who hosted them had the opportunity to connect over lunch and report back on the campus visits as well.
We ended our first day of meetings with a reception and dinner in Emerson Suites celebrating the college’s most recently tenured and promoted faculty. We were happy to recognize these professional milestones and to learn more about the expertise and achievements of these faculty members.
The engagement continued following the conclusion of the board’s formal meetings as chair David Lissy and vice chair James Nolan held their traditional open conversation with members of the campus community. We wish to share our gratitude toward the faculty, staff, and students who took part in this thoughtful and heartfelt session, held in Clark Lounge. The robust discussion touched on such topics as the role of the board of trustees and shared governance; efforts to improve enrollment, retention, and philanthropic support; and how to ensure that IC is an employer of choice and that academic and student services programs are provided with appropriate resources. Such opportunities for dialogue continue to be important as we move forward as an intentional and collaborative community of care.
Updates from College Leadership
President Cornish provided the board with an update on recent and upcoming individual and organizational changes in the President’s Cabinet, which you can read about here.
Melanie Stein, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, provided updates to trustees on the college’s academic affairs division. Stein introduced the trustees to the collaborative approach being taken by the academic affairs leadership team, which consists of Stein and the five deans: Anne Hogan, Michael Johnson-Cramer, Claire Gleitman, Amy Falkner, and Linda Petrosino.
Stein and each dean shared information about their backgrounds; their individual and collective visions of and enthusiasm for engaging with the IC community; and opportunities for cross-disciplinary teaching and scholarship, both within their respective schools and across the campus.
During a presentation from Laurie Koehler, vice president for marketing and enrollment strategy, trustees learned about the work that began in 2018 and has culminated in the first college-wide brand strategy and platform. Koehler, along with Creative and Marketing Group team leaders Erin Davis and Melissa Marchese, presented the platform’s messaging and visual systems, as well as examples of creative execution for student recruitment and for alumni and campus community outreach.
Koehler also provided information about new and continuing student enrollment, and discussed the strategies implemented that resulted in a nearly three-point increase in the yield rate of admitted students, allowing IC to exceed budgeted enrollment targets.
During Friday morning’s session, “Towards a Sustainable Future,” Provost Stein and Tim Downs, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, noted that the institution has made substantial progress in recovering from the impact of COVID-19 that began in 2020. In outlining the curricular revision process, Stein cited the Ithaca Forever strategic plan goal of empowering students to explore wide-ranging subjects across the college and to construct or choose from curricular paths that best match their goals and interests.
Downs shared with trustees an update on dining services, as well as on the college’s recent partnership with Cayuga Health System to provide student health services.
On behalf of the board and the entire college leadership, we wish to thank the many members of our community who worked tirelessly and creatively to realize an unforgettable weekend on South Hill.
Our next board meetings will be held Thursday and Friday, February 8-9, 2023.
David H. Lissy ’87
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees
La Jerne Terry Cornish
President, Ithaca College