Dear Ithaca College Community,
I want to follow up with a personal note on the heels of the announcement from IC Board of Trustees Chair Dave Lissy ’87 and Vice Chair Jim Nolan ’77, which shared the news of my departure from Ithaca College.
This transition will be incredibly bittersweet, and this decision is among the most difficult I have ever made, one that I walked through with integrity and introspection, always holding close my very real love for Ithaca College and for this community.
During the past four years, we have embarked upon extraordinary work together, making significant strides toward ensuring the resiliency of Ithaca College and its ability to shine as a place that offers a vibrant and student-centered higher education experience. I believe so sincerely in the promise of Ithaca College, and I will always cherish the exceptional people within this community whose lives I have been honored to be a part of. Many of you have become trusted friends and valued colleagues. And to our students — you are the true promise of Ithaca College, and you will stay in my heart forever.
I have spoken frequently about the moment that we’re in — both Ithaca College as an institution and our shared humanity as a nation. This is a tumultuous and urgent time that calls upon all of us to lean into difficult, honest dialogue and bold action in order to transform our communities and create a just, sustainable world. Higher education is a crucible where the systemic inequities that mark our culture are visible and palpable. It is also a sector with boundless opportunities to make very real change that impacts generations and strengthens us as a nation.
As a community, we created and affirmed the college’s strategic plan, Ithaca Forever, which links the creation of opportunity with the building of a thriving learning community that centers the values of respect and accountability, equity, innovation, sustainability, and academic excellence in service of the public good. These values have driven my work at the college and were forged within me as a first-generation college student who experienced the transformative power of higher education and the absolute necessity of a network of support to foster success and full participation. No student should go it alone in their college journey, and as educators it is our responsibility to eliminate the barriers that prevent students from flourishing as scholars and as people.
I encourage you to read the announcement from College Track, an impactful national organization that mirrors the ideals of this institution and works alongside places like IC to achieve the goals of an accessible, affordable, and supportive college experience. I am deeply honored that Laurene Powell Jobs has selected me to partner with her and lead an organization in collaboration with Emerson Collective that is fully dedicated to the issues we have been addressing as a college community — issues that I have prioritized throughout my life’s work and career.
I want to affirm the tremendous confidence in the future of this institution and in its leadership team that Chairman Lissy and Vice Chairman Nolan expressed in their message. I could not be more proud to leave Ithaca College in the care of an extremely dedicated board of trustees, an enormously gifted and grounded Interim President La Jerne Terry Cornish, and a talented senior leadership team that employs a deep and creative skillset in service of our students. I have no doubt that they and the college’s brave and dedicated leaders among our staff, faculty, and students will keep steering IC forward toward a bright future.
You will forever be my IC family and it has been my greatest honor to serve as the ninth president of Ithaca College during such a historic time in our sector, our nation, and our world. I look forward to working alongside all of you over the next six months, as we continue our momentum and progress in positioning Ithaca College and our beloved community for the amazing things yet to come.
With gratitude and admiration,
Shirley M. Collado