Dear Ithaca College campus community members,

I am thrilled to offer to our faculty, staff, and students two new collaborative, innovative initiatives: the President’s Seed Grant Initiative and the President’s Fellows Program. Both are meant to lay the groundwork for our strategic visioning process, which will begin next academic year, and support the four key areas of improvement related to our campus climate. The four areas, which I discussed during our All-College Gathering in August, are: transparent and inclusive decision-making; improved career opportunities for staff; richer mentoring for faculty; and the creation of a deeper sense of belonging for students. 

I am supporting the seed grants and the fellows program with the president’s discretionary fund, which includes the $100,000 Helen Gurley Brown Genius Grant I received in August. Early on in my tenure as president, I decided that I wanted to invest these discretionary resources back into our campus community in ways that would encourage and support every member in exploring their potential as learners, educators, leaders, professionals, and human beings. Supporting these initiatives through my president’s fund is, for me, an intentional, personal decision that underscores my strong belief that this next chapter of Ithaca College’s existence belongs to all of us. I am excited to invest in bold, innovative ideas generated by our campus community and in leadership opportunities that will empower our faculty, staff, and students.

President’s Seed Grant Initiative

The President’s Seed Grant Initiative is a one-time opportunity, offered in Spring 2018, to seed innovative, cross-disciplinary work within our community. These grants will be awarded to fund the ideas of teams of faculty, staff, and students who want to reach beyond departmental roles and programmatic boundaries to identify or develop areas that they think are important to the success of our institution. Only faculty and staff may serve as the lead on a grant project, but students are welcome to participate as team members. 

My hope is that the seed grants will give our community a chance to illuminate the challenges and opportunities they see, to activate the leadership needed to make change, and to lay the groundwork for the future of the college. Proposals that strengthen existing opportunities will be welcome, but the emphasis of this grant is to provide a launching pad for inventive, aspirational approaches to the work we do here at Ithaca College. 

The deadline for applications for grants to be awarded in Spring 2018 is Friday, January 5, 2018. Grants will be awarded by the end of January and strong preference will be given to proposals that fully utilize funds by May 31, 2018.

Please visit the Office of the President website to find out more details about the seed grants and to apply.

President’s Fellows Program

I deeply believe that for an institution to be great, it must invest in the development of its campus community through programs that identify and cultivate talent and leadership among faculty, staff, and students. I feel strongly that Ithaca College has a tremendous opportunity in this area to do what other institutions of higher education have not done a very good job of: investing in, mentoring, and providing leadership opportunities to the members of their campus communities. My ultimate vision for the President’s Fellows Program is that it will help create our college’s and higher education’s future leaders: tomorrow’s deans or vice presidents, future governance chairs, or transformative committee leaders.

The program will offer fellows an opportunity to immerse themselves, for one academic year, in an area that’s different from their current specialization. In the spirit of shared governance, I also feel that this program has the potential to bring members of our campus community closer to the leadership of the college and closer to our strategic work. 

Fellows’ collaborations could take many forms, for example, a student working closely with the vice president for finance and administration, a faculty member blending their academic expertise with student affairs, or a staff member from advancement exploring opportunities in academic affairs. The objective is to move fellows outside of their current area to apply their experience in a different professional venue on campus, develop leadership capabilities, and provide mentorship in an unfamiliar area of interest. 

The first cohort of fellows will be selected for the 2018-19 academic year and will consist of two faculty members, one staff member, and two students. More details will be released later this academic year about the program and about the selection criteria for fellows, so please stay tuned.

In this year that we celebrate Ithaca College’s 125th anniversary, it is my incredible pleasure to create and offer these two initiatives that honor the rich talent and ingenuity of our campus community members and our limitless potential for innovation and achievement. The success of our institution and the success of our students depends on our ability to collaboratively envision a bright future for this college that we love, a future that we all own and we all are invested in. 

I can’t wait to see what we create!

All my best,

Shirley M. Collado

Sent via email November 30, 2017.