Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish and Vice President for Human Resources and Planning Hayley Harris opened the board’s full day of meetings with an expansive overview and in-depth dialogue on the first-year implementation of Ithaca Forever, the college’s strategic plan. This set the context for the day, underscoring the foundational alignment of all the college’s work within the goals of Ithaca Forever. Provost Cornish and VP Harris shared top-level progress by the action groups and the campus community in moving year-one objectives forward, including an update on the academic and non-academic reviews, as was discussed at the recent All-College Gathering and given important context in President Collado’s blog, “Opening a Conversation.”
Trustees spent time in dialogue with members of college administration and one another around the ways in which the college community is navigating institutional change and how that contributes to the campus climate. Approaching the topic from a common understanding that the college’s success depends on its ability to adapt, the conversation provided trustees with an opportunity to discuss recent topics that are activating members of the campus community.
In light of the challenges faced as the college makes progress toward a sustainable future, trustees recognize the necessity of collaboration, civil discourse and transparent discussion among all campus constituents to realize the shared commitment to and the success of Ithaca Forever. The board affirmed its full confidence in the college’s leadership team to lead the IC community and the implementation of the strategic plan.
Finance and Facilities
Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Guerrero engaged the board around the current forecast for AY19-20, a snapshot of the draft AY20-21 budget, and the college’s ongoing capital planning.
VP Guerrero’s session highlighted the work that his team, senior leadership, the Institutional Effectiveness and Budget Committee, and departments and offices around campus have done to balance the current budget and prepare the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, opening a dialogue with trustees around different scenarios and forecasts to gather important input and guidance.
Capital planning is a key component of the budgeting process, and VP Guerrero walked through some of the priorities and financial strategies that can help the college realize its Ithaca Forever capital goals while ensuring the financial health of the institution as we advance the campus master plan.
As a reminder, the board does not vote on the upcoming year's budget during its February meetings. To ensure that the final budget the trustees consider for approval has as much certainty as possible around expectations for the coming year, the board now votes on the budget during its May meetings.
Marketing and Enrollment Strategy
Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Laurie Koehler offered trustees a window into the work that she and her teams are doing around the strategies for the college’s brand and approach to enrollment. Board members had opportunities to provide VP Koehler with input and feedback, particularly around possible paths forward with an emphasis initially on the college’s most critical need: attracting great-fit students.
IC alumni Jason DeLand ’98, founding partner and chairman of nationally recognized advertising agency Anomaly, and Ryan Berman ’98, founder of Courageous, a change consultancy that trains companies how to operationalize courage, joined the board for the brand strategy discussion, and led trustees through their observations on the current IC positioning and the importance of a courageous approach.
Both VP Koehler’s and VP Guerrero’s discussions specifically underscored the college’s continued and intentional focus on proactively approaching the challenges presented by the current higher education climate, including but not limited to the changing student demographics in the Northeast and the impact that has on enrollment. The board remains committed to working with the senior leadership team to ensure the college’s fiscal sustainability in light of these trends.