News from the Fall 2019 Board of Trustees Meetings

By IC News staff, October 29, 2019
A message from the Board of Trustees chair and the president.

Dear Campus Community,

The Ithaca College Board of Trustees met last week, from Wednesday, October 23, through Friday, October 25. Trustees’ time on campus centered around the college’s strategic plan, Ithaca Forever. The board voted in June to approve the plan, and the bulk of our meetings last week was spent engaging with college leadership and members of the IC community to strategize approaches, philosophies, and next steps as we look toward this first year of implementation and think about how this plan will shape the college over the next five years.

Our time together couldn’t have started on a higher note. Before we began our formal meetings, board members joined students, faculty, staff, and members of the Ithaca community to officially launch Ithaca Forever at a fun and energetic party at Dillingham fountains. This was an inspiring event, and set a tone of excitement and activation for the rest of the week. Hats off to the committee that planned such a wonderful event and deep appreciation to the faculty, staff, and students who’ve stepped into leadership roles in bringing the first year of this plan to life — as co-chairs of individual goals or action groups and as members of action groups. Thank you.

The First-Year Foundation of Ithaca Forever

Board members attended two plenary sessions that provided high-level framing by college leadership around the implementation of Ithaca Forever. Our first plenary was Thursday, with an informative and thorough presentation by Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish; Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Guerrero; Vice President for Human and Organizational Development and Planning Hayley Harris; and Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Laurie Koehler. These four members of the senior leadership team led trustees in a dialogue around the work teed up for the first year of Ithaca Forever, sharing accomplishments and approaches within the context of the college’s financial sustainability.

Friday’s plenary session built upon the foundation set the previous day, and the board heard more from Vice President Guerrero along with Rosanna Ferro, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life; and Tim Carey, Associate Vice President, Office of Facilities. This second session provided a deep dive into the existing facilities master plan and the ways in which the college is aligning existing capital priorities with the strategic plan. The board heard an update on the vision for and potential of a more appropriate and inviting student center. At the core of all of the dialogue around capital projects was an understanding of budget realities and a strong reiteration that providing a transformative student experience is at the crux of everything the college does.

As part of this plenary, the board expressed its support for placing the construction of a new president’s residence into the long-term campus master plan. This allows the college to have flexibility in prioritizing the broad scope of projects planned to improve the physical campus. Due to this approach, the board has decided to support a modest expansion of the current president’s residence. This will better enable the current space to function in the best interests of the college by serving as a gathering spot for our on- and off-campus IC community. This work is scheduled to start this academic year.

Board Action

The board approved granting an easement to the Town of Ithaca to move forward a collaboration between IC, the town and city of Ithaca, and the New York State Department of Transportation to construct a sidewalk along SR 96B. We are excited that this project is coming to fruition and are looking forward to the ways in which it will safely and efficiently connect our college to downtown.

Due to the intentional planning and deep work related to the budget and the launching of Ithaca Forever this academic year, the board did not take action on setting 2020-21 rates for tuition and room and board at last week’s meetings. Those will be established and announced by the February meeting.

Spending Time with Our Community

Board members had multiple opportunities to experience and celebrate the tremendous excellence of Ithaca College’s faculty last week. Trustees attended Provost Cornish’s post-sabbatical colloquium on Thursday night, where Jeff Holmes, Professor, Psychology; Luke Keller, Dana Professor, Physics & Astronomy; and Lauren O'Connell, Professor, Art History, presented their sabbatical research. Later that evening, we celebrated 23 recently promoted and recently tenured and promoted faculty members at a special dinner.

During the course of the meetings, many trustees had an opportunity to see faculty excellence from a student perspective, sitting in on courses across campus. Special thanks to the many faculty who opened their classrooms up to us.

Trustees also participated in several “immersion events,” including a tour of East Tower and Terrace 5, led by Vice President Ferro’s staff, which gave board members an understanding of the potential for enhancing the student residential experience. In addition, trustees celebrated the historic work of the 2019 Cortaca Jug planning committee at a luncheon on Thursday, thanking them for their incredible efforts around this year’s game at MetLife Stadium.

On Friday, after the board meetings concluded, board vice chair Jim Nolan and I (Dave) had an open conversation with members of the campus community in Clark Lounge. It was a full house and a great moment for us to share what was on our minds about the strategic plan and college priorities, and to hear thoughts and ideas from the college’s faculty, staff, and students. Thanks to everyone who came out and contributed to our robust dialogue.

Finally, we want to offer our appreciation to all of the members of this community who made the board’s meetings last week productive, informative, and invigorating. The board will meet again February 12-13 in Los Angeles.


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

Shirley M. Collado
President, Ithaca College