Updates on Aligning Positions and Programs, Dean Searches, and How to Support Students

By President Shirley M. Collado, April 9, 2020
A message from President Shirley M. Collado

Dear IC faculty and staff,

I hope this message finds you healthy and well. I am reaching out today to share with you a few major updates that impact Ithaca College, our community, and the direction we are taking as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Credits and Refunds

Yesterday, I sent an email directly to students and their families explaining how the college is handling credits and refunds for the unused portions of housing and meal plans. As I mentioned last week during the All-Faculty-and-Staff Gathering, this is an important issue that not only affects students and families, but also the college’s financial reality, particularly as we close the fiscal year. The decision around credits and refunds was collaborative, detailed, and thoughtful, reflecting at all times our ongoing prioritization of students, even in the face of great institutional challenge.

On behalf of the senior leadership team, I want to express my sincere gratitude to those of you who worked on this major decision, and to all of our faculty and staff for everything you’ve been doing to support student success and our financial health during this unprecedented time, including the ongoing work to manage our current expenses and help put the college in a position where we can wrap up this year in the best way possible.

Aligning Positions and Programs

Looking ahead to the next fiscal year and beyond, I want to reiterate that our current moment is calling upon us to both make decisions in direct response to the pandemic and also to expedite some of our existing goals and objectives around becoming a more nimble, unified, and focused organization. Unlike other institutions that are much more vulnerable, Ithaca College is fortunate to already be on a path that activates the promise of this institution by utilizing the framework of our strategic plan, Ithaca Forever.

As I emphasized during last week’s All-Faculty-and-Staff Gathering, we are moving forward to ensure that all positions and programs are aligned with and prioritize the needs of the college now and in the coming years. The vice presidents and their direct reports are collaborating with leaders and work groups around campus to solidify what a workforce reduction will look like for our community at this time.

Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish and Vice President for Human Resources and Planning Hayley Harris will be sending more information about this topic to faculty and staff early next week, and plan to talk about a number of details and next steps at the upcoming virtual All-Faculty-and-Staff Gathering on Tuesday, April 14. I highly encourage you to attend this gathering.

Dean Searches

After thoughtful consideration in light of the challenging moment that we are in, Provost Cornish, in collaboration with her team and the search committees, has made the decision to suspend the dean searches for our Park School of Communications and our School of Music. Provost Cornish will be seeking interim deans from among the faculty at each school for the next academic year. I want to thank the dedicated search committee chairs and members for their commitment to leading this process and extend my thanks to all of you who participated.

Salary Increment Pool

During last week’s gathering, VP Harris emphasized that it would be unlikely for the college to have the ability to offer salary increment increases for FY21. I want to confirm that we are unable to offer salary increment increases for next fiscal year, based on our current realities and in-depth discussions with the Institutional Effectiveness and Budget Committee (IEBC).

Supporting Our Students and One Another

Regardless of how long we have to manage the impact of this public health crisis, we know that we will inevitably have students who are returning to the college in the fall with more financial need and a different set of financial circumstances, both for themselves and for their families. We are also anticipating a smaller first-year class as a result of existing demographic shifts and new challenges brought by the pandemic. Our reality in higher education has changed and this historic moment will require us to be open, creative, and brave.

Understanding this reality, I want to share that I, my entire senior leadership team, and many of our direct reports (for instance, deans, associate/assistant provosts, associate vice presidents, and directors and executive directors) have elected to reduce our salaries for the entire fiscal year 2021. The amount of these reductions will be devoted to strengthening institutional financial aid for our students. This decision affirms our deep commitment to the success of the college and our students. This is the second year that members of the college leadership have made a decision surrounding our compensation to support the IC community and continue the momentum of the strategic plan. 

Additionally, for FY21, many Ithaca College leaders have decided to make donations to support institutional financial aid.

Many of you have asked what you can do to help our students, one another, and our college during this time. I want to share that a fund has been established—the Student Emergency Relief Fund—through our Division of Philanthropy and Engagement, which offers direct support to our students who are struggling as a result of the impact of this pandemic. You may contact Erik Braun, ebraun1@ithaca.edu, for more information about this fund, or make a gift here.

Also, please know that our on-campus food pantry remains open to students, faculty, and staff, and will remain available to those who are impacted by decisions around the coronavirus pandemic or our workforce reduction. This Intercom article gives good information about how to access the food pantry during this time. If you would like to make a contribution to the pantry, please reach out to studentaffairs@ithaca.edu.  

Facing the Future Together

I know that much of the news around our current reality is sobering. However, I also urge you to hear the underlying element of hope about the future of Ithaca College. This institution has and will continue to exist to educate and to empower our students with a commitment to build thriving communities. This is our mission and our vision and we must remain grounded by both as we move through this storm.

It is important that you continue to stay involved and engaged in this community and in the life of the college. As I mentioned above, our next virtual All-Faculty-and-Staff Gathering is next Tuesday. This gathering is for faculty and staff only, to provide us with space to engage in a transparent and open dialogue with one another around issues that are specific to our work. An invitation with the Zoom link will be sent from president@ithaca.edu directly to your inboxes. Please understand that this link is solely for your use as a faculty or staff member and is not to be shared.

We are again taking questions in advance for this gathering, and you may ask them here until noon on Monday, April 13.

The provost’s office will host another virtual All-Faculty Gathering on Thursday, April 16, during the common hour. Stay tuned for an invitation directly from her office.

Remember that all of the gatherings are being recorded and will be made available for the appropriate audiences to view after the fact.

I know this is an incredibly difficult time as we navigate not only unexpected professional challenges but also moments, fears, and feelings that are causing some serious disruption and hardship in our personal lives. Our IC family is resilient — and we will persevere.

In solidarity,

Shirley M. Collado