Dear Campus Community,
It is with mixed emotions that I deliver the news that Rosanna Ferro, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life (SACL), has shared with me an exciting professional and personal decision — to become the chief of education at College Track, the comprehensive college completion program which is now led by President Emerita Shirley M. Collado and based in Oakland, Calif. Her last day at the college will be June 24.
Dr. Ferro will be remembered here at Ithaca College for her fierce commitment to student access and success, and her frequent, intentional engagement with IC families and supporters. Notably, in 2020, she shaped the college’s public health response to the pandemic, where she oversaw our successful return to living and learning on the South Hill campus in spring 2021 and has continued to provide leadership and oversight for the past two years.
Upon joining Ithaca College in 2017, Dr. Ferro was charged with leading the re-established division of Student Affairs and Campus Life. She led a reorganization of the division to align with national best practices and allocate resources and people to best serve our students. Additionally, her passion for mental health advocacy and resources led to enhanced support in the Center for Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the JED Campus Initiative at Ithaca College.
Dr. Ferro also implemented the creation of the Office of New Student and Transition Programs, collaborated with campus leaders to launch the First-Generation Center and, most recently, had a major role in the launch of the Center for Student Success and Retention.
Today, I am also pleased to name Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty as successor to Dr. Ferro as vice president for student affairs and campus life through 2024. Bonnie came to Ithaca College in 1988 after earning her master’s degree in student personnel services from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Starting as a residence director, Bonnie served in a series of increasingly responsible positions in the Office of Residential Life over the next three decades, including as director of residential life and judicial affairs beginning in 2001.
In June 2018, Bonnie was named dean of students, overseeing the Offices of Residential Life, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Case Management, and New Student and Transition Programs along with the Center for Counseling, Health, and Wellness. A sampling of her institutional service includes the IC 20/20 Advisory Committee, Enterprise Risk Management Committee, Residential Models Task Force, and First-Year Experience Coordinating Committee. Her professional affiliations include two-year terms on the executive board of the Association for College and University Housing Officers – International.
I am grateful to Dean Prunty for her commitment to putting students at the center of all we do here at Ithaca College. You can read more about her stellar career at the college, spanning 34 years, here. She will assume this important senior leadership role upon Dr. Ferro’s departure. We will conduct a national search for a new vice president for student affairs and campus life during the 2023-24 academic year, after which Bonnie plans to retire.
In turn, Bonnie is naming Marsha Dawson as dean of students. A student affairs professional with 15 years of dedicated service in the higher education field, Marsha joined Ithaca College in 2019 as director of residential life and judicial affairs. She is currently director of the Offices of Residential Life and Student Conduct & Community Standards. Previously, Marsha served in leadership roles with institutions including the University of Hartford and The New School, most recently as interim director of residential life. She holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Hartford. Marsha currently serves as a Board of Director for the Tompkins County Advocacy Center and is looking forward to fostering connections in the Ithaca community.
Our institution is fortunate to have a leader with Marsha’s expertise and passion in this critical role, and I am grateful to her for graciously accepting this new appointment. We will conduct an internal search for a new director of residential life and student conduct and community standards as early as this summer.
In closing, I want to affirm my sincere gratitude for the outstanding contributions that Dr. Ferro has made to the IC experience since joining the college five years ago. She leaves a strong foundation upon which Dean Prunty will now enrich the division’s resources in support of our students’ — and entire community’s — comprehensive growth.
Together, we will continue to sustain the power of a vibrant educational experience.
La Jerne Terry Cornish