It was a full house in Emerson Suites on Thursday, August 24, for the first All-College Gathering of the 2017-2018 academic year — and the first such gathering during the tenure of President Shirley M. Collado, Ithaca College’s ninth president. Collado began her term on July 1.
Another first: Collado opened the meeting to students, a change that elicited a round of applause from many in the audience.
After introductory remarks by Associate Professor Jason Freitag and Director of Admission Nicole Eversley-Bradwell, members of the Presidential Transition Team, the group charged with facilitating Collado’s smooth transition into the role of president, Collado jumped right into her agenda for the first year of her presidency.
“What I want most to do today is to talk about how we can do our shared work together this year,” she said. “That’s a common thread of what you will be hearing throughout the morning and, really, throughout my presidency.”
Collado said her biggest job as president in her first year can be narrowed down to two things: to get to know the college deeply — its community, its challenges, its strengths, its potential and its identity — and to help the IC community and the different groups within it work together across boundaries. These objectives are tied in an essential way to the college’s success, she said.
In her six weeks on the job, Collado shared that she’d held intensive meetings with members of the board of trustees, the senior leadership team and other top-level administrators, with a core goal to “develop and activate a senior leadership team that communicates in a unified voice and is seen and experienced as a highly collaborative, engaged leadership team with the IC community.”
Collado discussed the recent campus climate survey, identifying four areas in which improvements can begin to be made: transparent and inclusive decision-making; improved career opportunities for staff; richer mentoring for faculty; and the creation of a deeper sense of belonging for students.
“The deans, the provost, the human resources team and the vice presidents will begin efforts in these areas and will be communicating next steps in how to move forward,” she said. “We will need your help and engagement on these issues. These issues are issues you identified as most important to you.”
She added that Sue Rankin, of Rankin and Associates Consulting, the group that facilitated the campus climate survey in 2016, will also be presenting information about the next steps to the board of trustees at its October meeting.
Collado emphasized her intention to meet as many people as possible during her first year, and shared some of the ways in which she planned to accomplish this goal. Among them:
- An open house in Peggy Ryan Williams Center and Alumni Hall on September 6 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., inviting all on campus to explore the administrative buildings and learn more about the staff who work there;
- An all-student gathering on September 7 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Athletics and Events Center;
- Small-group lunch and coffee conversations open to faculty and staff, with groupings designed to encourage people to meet outside typical organizational lines;
- Affinity-based events (for example, LGBTQ faculty and staff, or faculty and staff of color)
- Monthly open office hours around campus for students;
- Large community gatherings, including convocation and the Weekend on South Hill.
Collaboration was a thread throughout Collado’s remarks, and she introduced the idea of “collective accountability,” the concept that all members of the IC community are stakeholders and participants in the creation of the college’s future. “Not accountability as in ‘who’s to blame,’” she explained. “But as in, we all have a responsibility to contribute what we can; building a vision together and being responsible for realizing that vision together.” Central to these points, she added, was that all on campus have the courage to engage in discourse rooted in mutual respect. One of the key aspects of this, she said, was to lean into discomfort and to grow and learn from it — even when our reflexes tell us to retreat.
Collado also said that she’s begun looking deeply at strengthening and enhancing student affairs and campus life, and strengthening her team in the Office of the President.
In addition to Collado’s remarks:
- Provost Linda Petrosino and Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Dave Prunty described the changes planned for convocation, including a shorter, more energetic formal ceremony and activities that increase the focus on students. Prunty encouraged everyone to attend convocation, and help build a community for the Class of 2021.
- Department of Theatre Arts Professor Steve TenEyck described some of the planned events for the Weekend on South Hill, November 3-5, which celebrates the college’s 125th anniversary. Among the many events planned for the weekend are:
- President Collado’s inauguration ceremony, Saturday, November 4
- “Conversation: Started,” on Friday, November 3, an academic symposium exploring theory, practice, and performance
- “Circle of Fifths: Words and Music in Celebration of the 125th,” on Saturday, November 4, a reading and music performance centered around the many forms of celebration and moderated by President Collado’s husband, A. Van Jordan, acclaimed poet
- The IC125 Community Celebration on the evening of Saturday, November 4, which will include the unveiling of a new Purity ice cream flavor honoring Ithaca College
TenEyck urged people to register for events they are interested in so staff can plan space, food and beverages appropriately.
- In the spirit of the term “gathering,” about 20 minutes of time was dedicated to encouraging all in attendance to get together in small groups to get acquainted (or reacquainted) after the summer, and discuss their hopes for the coming year (personal or professional); share a surprising fact about themselves; and share what they thought was the best thing about IC.
Collado closed the meeting by reinforcing the collaborative nature of the work ahead.
“I want to thank you for the warm welcome and for opening up to me as we build this relationship, as I build trust with you and we lead IC together with a collective sense of vision and responsibility,” she said, adding, “So now let’s get started.”
For information about President Collado’s upcoming public events, and to sign up for one of the small-group meetings, visit ithaca.edu/president/connect. To learn more about the Weekend on South Hill events celebrating inauguration and the college’s 125th anniversary, visit 125.ithaca.edu.