Faculty, staff and students gathered in the Athletics & Events Center on Friday, January 26, for Ithaca College’s spring semester all-college gathering. The meeting opened with a welcome from Provost Linda Petrosino and a brief video highlighting the college’s Weekend on South Hill, held in November to celebrate IC’s 125th anniversary.
Following the video, President Shirley M. Collado delivered remarks, the bulk of which centered on themes she’s seen emerge during the course of her first semester on campus. Collado, who engages frequently with members of the campus community, identified the themes and posed questions about how they might factor into the creation of the college’s strategic plan.
The year-long strategic planning process will begin in the 2018-2019 academic year. The five-year strategic plan will be implemented beginning the 2019-2020 academic year. Collado said opportunities will be provided this semester for members of the campus community to “build the scaffolding that will support our work this fall,” adding that “ensuring a collaborative, democratic and empowering strategic planning process is critical to our success and reaffirms our commitment to full participation among members of our community.”
“It is not my intention to develop a strategic plan for this institution by myself, based solely on these reflections. For us to move forward in a productive and positive way, we must all own this plan,” Collado said. “We must acknowledge our collective accountability for its creation and its implementation. This also means that we all can feel a sense of pride and ownership as we build the future of Ithaca College together.”
Among the themes Collado identified from her interactions with the campus community members were:
• Financial stability. Collado talked about the desire of members of the college community to align its financial plan with “our priorities and dreams,” particularly when the institution is heavily dependent on enrollment. She emphasized the college’s commitment to being accessible and student-centered.
• One college. In discussions with faculty and staff, Collado said she heard a strong allegiance to the concept of IC as “one college built on the strength of our five schools.” However, concerns were shared with Collado about the ease of collaborative work across campus, the barriers to developing team-teaching opportunities and the need for improvement in supporting faculty research.
• Community building among faculty and staff. Collado shared that in her conversations with faculty and staff, many expressed a desire to have better opportunities and deliberate spaces on campus to connect with peers to explore ideas and to develop relationships and mentorship opportunities.
• Student experience. Collado acknowledged ongoing work around the first-year student experience, and said she’d heard strong interest in developing a comparatively vigorous sophomore-year experience. Collado also pointed out the necessity of infusing the student experience with an increased capacity for “our students to participate in difficult dialogues and expand their understanding of what it means to be civically engaged in a just society.”
Collado opened her remarks by acknowledging the “challenging conversations and reflections” that many members of the campus community have had about her past and the process that led to her hiring. She reiterated her commitment to ensuring respect and understanding for all individuals, and stated that her body of work, including the work she’s done as president of Ithaca College, is grounded in that commitment.
Collado encouraged college community members to accept one another’s complexities.
“I stand here with you, continuing to have the courage to share with you who I am as a person, and certainly as your leader,” Collado said. “I’m asking all of you to be courageous with me, to understand and embrace not only my complexities, but those of our colleagues, those of our students, those of our community members. This is part of our shared work, too, as we open the next chapter for Ithaca College.”
Following Collado’s remarks, Melissa Daly, president’s office chief of staff, and Jason Freitag, associate professor in the Department of History, announced the winning proposals for the President’s Seed Grant Initiative. Daly and Freitag co-chaired the seed grant selection committee. Nearly $104,000 was awarded to 13 teams; 54 teams applied for funding.
The meeting wrapped up with a lively panel discussion, where four members of the IC community shared their moments of inspiration from the fall semester and their wishes for the college’s future. The panel, moderated by Chris Biehn, vice president of the Division of College Relations and Advancement, was comprised of: Rosanna Ferro, vice president, Student Affairs and Campus Life; Elizabeth Bleicher, associate professor of English and director of the Ithaca College Exploratory Program; Joe Antony Cruz, junior, communication management and design major; and Anne Woodard, associate director, Student Financial Services. Topics discussed ranged from student success and engagement, to affordability of the IC experience, to the excitement around the college’s 125th.
In other news:
• The Ithaca College Board of Trustees will be on campus for their meetings on February 14-15. During their time on campus, board members will have a lunch meeting with members of the faculty, staff and student governance councils. This is the first time such a meeting has been scheduled and its intention is to strengthen relationships between the campus community and the trustees.
• On February 14, a panel discussion will be held between President Collado; Jeff Selingo ’95, member of the board of trustees; Tompkins County Community College President Orinthia Montague; and Dana Professor Luke Keller on the topic of higher education trends and critical issues in the academy. Grace Elletson, class of 2019, politics major and a BOLD Scholar, will be facilitating the conversation.
• Collado announced the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life is in the process of hiring two new counselors, in addition to the recent filling of two existing vacancies for counselors, in the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, and has hired a new case manager.
All-college gatherings are held at the beginning of each semester and provide an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to celebrate the start of the new term and discuss the business of the college. For more information about these gatherings, please contact Melissa Daly, chief of staff, Office of the President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 274-3111.