Academic Year 22-23

Dear Ithaca College Faculty,

In advance of Tuesday’s Winter Celebration in Emerson Suites, I am reaching out to share my best wishes with you and your loved ones for a peaceful and restorative break and a joyous holiday season.

These past years of challenge and change have asked much of the members of our community, perhaps none more so than the members of our faculty.

As innovators and leaders in your fields, you are essential to all we do at Ithaca College. It is through your scholarship, teaching, research, service, and leadership that this institution empowers creativity and activates discovery in all who come to study on South Hill.

And so I wish to share my heartfelt appreciation with you for your continued commitment to supporting our students. I am confident that the new year will bring new possibilities to our campus as we collaboratively work to realize the promise of an Ithaca Forever community. Thank you, sincerely, for your transformative contributions to our community.

I look forward to seeing you at the Winter Celebration this Tuesday. Have a wonderful break!

With gratitude,

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Campus Community,

It is with a grateful heart that I reach out to wish each of you a restful and relaxing Thanksgiving break. May the time you spend with family and friends be enjoyable and restorative.

Our community has collectively stepped up over this past year to enhance the signature IC experience that has enriched and transformed lives for 130 years. On behalf of the President’s Cabinet and myself, I wish to offer each of you our sincere gratitude for your perseverance and ingenuity.

Your strength inspires us to continue to innovate to foster success. I very much look forward to seeing all of you back here on South Hill as we close out an outstanding semester at Ithaca College.

Peace and blessings,

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Campus Community,

We are pleased to share with you the following summary of our most recent board of trustees meetings, held Thursday and Friday, September 29-30, on our South Hill campus. These intensive sessions offer an opportunity for our board not only to come together and collaborate around the business of the institution, but also to connect trustees with the IC experience and with the many people, topics, initiatives, and moments that define us as a college community.

The board’s fall meetings were intentionally scheduled so that trustees could participate in activities surrounding the presidential inauguration and Family
Weekend. On Saturday morning, our community gathered for Ithaca Together,
the formal installation of La Jerne Terry Cornish as the college’s 10th president. That evening, we were thrilled to join our students and families in experiencing the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Inaugural Celebration and Showcase. Both events demonstrated the tremendous dedication and talent of our students, faculty, and staff as we celebrated this next chapter in the college’s history.  

These celebrations also overlapped with Family Weekend, affording families the opportunity to take in the historic festivities and deepen their connection to the IC experience. We were fortunate to enjoy a few days of sunny weather on South Hill which, along with the Apple Harvest Festival on the downtown Commons, contributed to a wonderful weekend for our visiting parents and families.  

Engaging with Our College Community

One of the most anticipated parts of our board meetings are opportunities for trustees to connect with members of the college community.

During this year’s fall meetings, trustees had the chance to immerse themselves in the IC student experience through attending classes across the college’s five schools.  Participating in these classes brought trustees together with students, faculty, and staff and provided important moments for members of our board to engage with the academic programs, opportunities, and experiences Ithaca College provides. Board members and the faculty who hosted them had the opportunity to connect over lunch and report back on the campus visits as well.

We ended our first day of meetings with a reception and dinner in Emerson Suites celebrating the college’s most recently tenured and promoted faculty. We were happy to recognize these professional milestones and to learn more about the expertise and achievements of these faculty members.

The engagement continued following the conclusion of the board’s formal meetings as chair David Lissy and vice chair James Nolan held their traditional open conversation with members of the campus community. We wish to share our gratitude toward the faculty, staff, and students who took part in this thoughtful and heartfelt session, held in Clark Lounge. The robust discussion touched on such topics as the role of the board of trustees and shared governance; efforts to improve enrollment, retention, and philanthropic support; and how to ensure that IC is an employer of choice and that academic and student services programs are provided with appropriate resources. Such opportunities for dialogue continue to be important as we move forward as an intentional and collaborative community of care.

Updates from College Leadership

President Cornish provided the board with an update on recent and upcoming individual and organizational changes in the President’s Cabinet, which you can read about here. 

Melanie Stein, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, provided updates to trustees on the college’s academic affairs division. Stein introduced the trustees to the collaborative approach being taken by the academic affairs leadership team, which consists of Stein and the five deans: Anne Hogan, Michael Johnson-Cramer,Claire Gleitman, Amy Falkner, and Linda Petrosino.

Stein and each dean shared information about their backgrounds; their individual and collective visions of and enthusiasm for engaging with the IC community; and opportunities for cross-disciplinary teaching and scholarship, both within their respective schools and across the campus.

During a presentation from Laurie Koehler, vice president for marketing and enrollment strategy, trustees learned about the work that began in 2018 and has culminated in the first college-wide brand strategy and platform. Koehler, along with Creative and Marketing Group team leaders Erin Davis and Melissa Marchese, presented the platform’s messaging and visual systems, as well as examples of creative execution for student recruitment and for alumni and campus community outreach.

Koehler also provided information about new and continuing student enrollment, and discussed the strategies implemented that resulted in a nearly three-point increase in the yield rate of admitted students, allowing IC to exceed budgeted enrollment targets.

During Friday morning’s session, “Towards a Sustainable Future,” Provost Stein and Tim Downs, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, noted that the institution has made substantial progress in recovering from the impact of COVID-19 that began in 2020. In outlining the curricular revision process, Stein cited the Ithaca Forever strategic plan goal of empowering students to explore wide-ranging subjects across the college and to construct or choose from curricular paths that best match their goals and interests.

Downs shared with trustees an update on dining services, as well as on the college’s recent partnership with Cayuga Health System to provide student health services.

On behalf of the board and the entire college leadership, we wish to thank the many members of our community who worked tirelessly and creatively to realize an unforgettable weekend on South Hill.

Our next board meetings will be held Thursday and Friday, February 8-9, 2023.


David H. Lissy ’87
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees

La Jerne Terry Cornish
President, Ithaca College

Dear Campus Community,

I am hopeful that you have been as energized by the first few weeks of the fall semester as I have. It has been my personal pleasure to attend and participate in so many events for and by our students, faculty, and staff. I particularly want to thank everyone in our community who took part in the activities surrounding my inauguration this past weekend, especially the wonderful showcase put on by our School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

The start of a new academic year often brings changes in our administrative structures and organizations, and I wanted to take this opportunity to provide the IC community with an update on recent and upcoming developments.

First, I want to share the news that Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Laurie Koehler has informed me of her intent to depart Ithaca College at the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year. As many of you know, Laurie and her wife Carla’s family, including Laurie’s elderly mom and their two grandchildren, reside in Northern Virginia. Their desire to be closer to family became clearer throughout the pandemic, and so they will be returning to that region.

Laurie has provided tremendous leadership since joining IC in 2019, helping to build critical infrastructure, strengthen collaboration across areas, and navigate through the pandemic. The important work done by Laurie and her team resulted in the college exceeding its targets for new student enrollment this fall. I am thankful that we have a significant amount of time to prepare for her departure by conducting a national search and smoothly transitioning to new leadership for our enrollment and student success efforts by summer 2023.

Speaking of searches, I will also be moving forward immediately to identify two key members of the President’s Cabinet: Vice President for Philanthropy and Engagement, and a newly created position of Vice President for Marketing and Communications. Ithaca College has secured the services of the highly regarded national search firm Isaacson Miller to recruit an exceptional pool of high-quality candidates for each position. I will provide more information to the campus community about next steps soon.

With the recent departure of Vice President for Human Resources and Planning Hayley Harris, I am pleased to announce that Kirra Franzese will now serve as Associate VP and Chief Human Resources Officer. In the interest of aligning resources most strategically and efficiently, our highly valued Human Resources team will now report to Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO Tim Downs. Kirra has served IC exceptionally well for more than two decades, and I am confident she will continue to lead us toward our goal of becoming an employer of choice in the region.

 In addition, as you heard at the All-College Welcome, Emily Rockett has been promoted to General Counsel and will serve on the Cabinet in that capacity. Emily has done exceptional work as our College Counsel, and we are thrilled she is embracing the additional responsibilities that come with the General Counsel position.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that the Chief of Staff to the President, Odalys Diaz Piñeiro, has agreed to take on a critical additional role as Secretary to the Board of Trustees beginning October 15. Her strategic leadership skills will serve IC well as she provides executive-level support to the Board and ensures effective coordination and facilitation of the activities of the Board and its various committees. I want to thank and share my appreciation for Nancy Pringle, who returned from retirement in the spring of 2021 to serve as Secretary to the Board and most recently, along with Odalys, cochaired the Presidential Transition Team.

The year ahead holds tremendous promise for our beloved Ithaca College community. We have set clear institutional priorities and are already working hard to realize them. I look forward to doing so, as Ithaca Together.


La Jerne Terry Cornish


Dear Campus Community,

I am pleased to invite you to “Students as Advocates and Change Agents,” the third event in the IC Day of Learning Series. This series, which kicked off in February with our “Grappling with Antisemitism” discussion and continued on August 21 with a visit from Dr. Michael Benitez, is designed to provide an opportunity for all to learn and discuss the ideas and issues of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in our community.

Next Wednesday, September 28, three celebrated activists for equity will visit campus to share their perspectives and insights on their work in a panel discussion that I am honored to moderate.

Luvaghn Brown began his active involvement in the Civil Rights Movement at the age of 16, when he was arrested for sitting at a “whites-only” Woolworth’s Department Store lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi. This experience cemented a lifelong dedication to organizing initiatives designed to counter segregation, racism, and inequality. Luvaghn is featured prominently in the 2017 documentary “The Uncomfortable Truth,” excerpts from which will be shared during the panel discussion.

The documentary’s director, Loki Mulholland, attended Ithaca College to study cinema and photography in the 1990s. He is an Emmy Award-winning director and author whose works explore issues of race, inequality, and social justice. Loki’s passion was imparted at an early age from his mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, who grew up during a time of intense segregation in the South. As a white student at Duke University, Joan joined the cause by boarding a bus with other Freedom Riders to participate in sit-ins. The experience sparked Joan to dedicate her life to advocating for social justice.

Their work is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s, and we are fortunate that Luvaghn, Joan, and Loki will join us on campus to share their insights on how students — and all global citizens — can activate their capacity to be agents of change in their communities.

IC Day of Learning Series: Students as Advocates and Change Agents
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Ford Hall, James J. Whalen Center for Music
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

One of our Ithaca Forever strategic plan goals is to serve as a national model for colleges committed to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. To realize this, it is critical that we create spaces that allow for vulnerability and spark meaningful, and sometimes difficult, conversations around these topics. The IC Day of Learning Series is an extension of this goal, and it is my hope that the series empowers us to learn from each other as we work toward an equitable community.

I look forward to seeing you next week, and to hosting future events that engage, and challenge, our community.

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Ithaca College Community,

This Sunday, the nation will commemorate the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. As in years past, the Dillingham fountains will be lowered on Sunday in memory and in honor of the lives lost.

It was more than 20 years ago that the events of September 11 changed this country — and our world — forever, and directly impacted the lives of so many within our Ithaca College family. I wish for us to honor, specifically, the six members of the IC community who lost their lives as a result of these attacks. A Peace Pole and accompanying plaque bearing their names, located near the Muller Chapel pond, was dedicated on the first anniversary of 9/11.

At some point over the weekend, please visit the Peace Pole and the fountains. May our remembrance of the September 11 attacks acknowledge the magnitude of our loss as a nation, and may we also be reminded of the solidarity and comfort we find in connecting to one another as we strive to realize a better world.

In peace,

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Campus Community,

It was wonderful to see so many of you in-person during this past Thursday’s All-College Welcome, and I am very appreciative of those who joined us via livestream. I hope that coming together in celebration of the new school year was energizing and exciting for all of us.  Let us embrace the promise and possibilities of this new year together!

You may view a replay of the event here and learn more about the strategic priorities discussed during the meeting in this IC news story.

We will convene once again on October 18 for a formal State of the College meeting. More details will be shared in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I thank you for all you do for our incredible community, and hope you will be well, stay well, and take good care.

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Campus Community:

It is with both sadness for the college and excitement for our colleague that I announce that Hayley Harris, vice president for human resources and planning, will be departing to become the associate vice president and chief human resources officer for the University of Chicago. Hayley will begin her new role there October 6.

Since joining IC in 2019, Hayley has served as a strategic partner to the college’s senior academic and administrative leadership while overseeing an innovative, collaborative human and organizational development division. Her many contributions to our institution include spearheading the successful implementation of Oracle’s cloud-based HCM and Payroll system.

Hayley also helped institute new flexible work and telecommuting policies, as well as the college’s Restorative Fridays, to respond to both the pandemic and current recruitment challenges. These initiatives to expand and promote wellness policies and programs are critical components of the Ithaca Forever strategic plan goal for our institution to thrive as an employer of choice.

I am especially grateful for Hayley’s leadership in launching these campus-wide efforts related to the strategic plan, and I would be remiss if I did not also applaud Hayley for her immense contributions to our goals of serving as a national model for colleges committed to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; as well as aligning the size of the workforce with the student population to ensure long-term sustainability for the college.

Follow-up information regarding future leadership of the human resources division will be shared with the campus community in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I hope you will all join me in thanking Hayley for her work on behalf of the college and in wishing her all the best in this new opportunity.

With gratitude,

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Dear Campus Community,

Please be reminded that The Office of the President is hosting an All-College Welcome this Thursday, August 25, during the common hour, from 12:10 – 1:05 p.m. in Emerson Suites with an Ice Cream Social to immediately follow.

This is an in-person event for the entire community—faculty, staff, and students are welcome. As a reminder, if you cannot attend the event in-person, please email and a link will be sent to you.

The All-College Welcome is an opportunity for us to connect in solidarity and celebration as we welcome new students to campus, recenter ourselves around our goals for the year, and reaffirm the strengths of our community of care. 

Our agenda is:

  • President’s welcome
  • “Mindful moment” activity led by faculty
  • Overview of institutional priorities and goals for the year
  • Introduction of the college’s cabinet, including our new deans
  • Remarks by leaders of Faculty Council, Staff Council, and the Student Governance Council
  • Brief presentation on campus renewal projects
  • Ice Cream Social following formal event

In October, we will convene once more for a more formal meeting, where I will deliver information around the state of the college.

I look forward to seeing you Thursday, and I wish you a wonderful beginning to your academic year.

Take good care,

La Jerne Terry Cornish

Academic Year 2022-2023

Reflections from South Hill

President La Jerne Terry Cornish shares some of her personal highlights from the month and her thoughts about our college and community in her vlog series “Reflections from South Hill.”