News from May 2020 IC Board of Trustees Meetings

Dear Ithaca College community,

On Thursday, May 14, and Friday, May 15, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees convened for its first-ever virtual meetings, due to the ongoing public health crisis. Though we—like all of you—successfully conducted our important business in a remote environment, we sincerely missed this IC community and the many opportunities our on-campus board meetings deliver for us to connect with you, including the major highlight of our spring meetings: the college’s Commencement ceremony and celebrations. We wish the very best to our graduates in the Class of 2020, and look forward to being on South Hill again soon. We hope all of you reading this are staying safe, healthy, and IC strong.

The board also wants to acknowledge and express its sincere condolences to this community on the passing of Associate Professor Sue-Je Gage. Many trustees knew Sue-Je through her exceptional work as a President’s Fellow, and we share your grief in her loss.

We know this has been a difficult semester in many ways, and the board wants to express its appreciation for the effort and endurance of IC’s faculty, staff, and students—particularly applauding the faculty and staff for quickly mobilizing to move to remote instruction—as well as the strong leadership of the college’s administration in guiding the institution through what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times in its history. The board’s greatest responsibility is to ensure the college’s long-term health and fiscal sustainability, and now, more than ever, trustees remain focused on and strongly committed to our fiduciary duty in support of the mission of Ithaca College.

Keeping this fiduciary duty front of mind, the board and senior leadership team have decided to delay the approval of the college’s FY21 budget until late June to allow for additional essential information to be available to help inform this important decision. As many of you know, the college moved its admissions deadline to June 1, which is a critical factor in institutional financial planning. Additionally, the board recognizes the tumultuous and ever-evolving global and national economic landscape within which the college operates.

Senior Leadership Reports
During our meetings, the board heard from several members of the college’s leadership team, who facilitated in-depth discussions regarding the operations of the college, as well as a sweeping perspective about the ways in which the COVID-19 crisis has impacted IC in important areas such as the college’s financial picture and the implementation of the strategic plan.

  • Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration, provided a detailed look at the college’s operational and capital budgets, with a deep dive into some of the different financial scenarios as we plan for the next academic year.
  • La Jerne Terry Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Hayley Harris, vice president for human resources and planning, guided the board through the year-one work to implement the strategic plan, and the pivots that occurred in response to COVID-19. Associate Provost Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dave Weil, and Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty also gave snapshots of their work in contingency planning, technology support, and student affairs initiatives, respectively.
  • Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy Laurie Koehler engaged trustees in a robust discussion on the important work her division is doing to formulate a forward-thinking approach to admissions and retention at Ithaca College, particularly focusing on demographics, yield, and recruitment efforts.

New and Departing Trustees

During our first full day together, board members spent time in committee, and many participated in interviewing nine outstanding candidates for incoming faculty, staff, and student trustees. We’re excited to announce that the following members of our campus community have been elected to the board: Baruch Whitehead, associate professor of music education; Casey Kendall, executive director of applications and infrastructure; and Kalena Yearwood ’23, politics major, MLK Scholar, and a member of the women’s track and field team. The board will officially welcome these new trustees at our fall meetings, and we look forward to how they will shape our collaborative work on behalf of Ithaca College. Read more about Baruch, Casey, and Kalena.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to honor our three outgoing campus community trustees: Julie Dorsey, associate professor of occupational therapy; Sybil Conrad, director of the Campus Center; and Yetunde Smalls ’21, politics major and MLK Scholar. These individuals have brought a richness to our board, and played a critical role in sharing their perspectives as members of the college’s faculty, staff, and students—particularly during the development of and dialogue around the strategic plan. Julie and Sybil, who served four years each as a trustee, also contributed greatly to the college’s presidential search, which began in 2016. The board is grateful for the enormous contributions made by Julie, Sybil, and Yetunde.

 The board reelected three trustees to a second, three-year term: David Fleisher ’91, Mary Opperman, and Peter Taffae ’82. Board members Michael Battle ’77 and Ellen Staurowsky, M.S. ’78, ended their time as trustee. The board is grateful to Michael for his tremendous decade of service on the board, and to Ellen for her perspectives both as an alumna and a distinguished faculty member. Ellen ended her term to return to the Ithaca College faculty as a professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies.

Faculty Promotions

The board was honored to recognize the work of 13 faculty members with promotion. Read the full story about these outstanding faculty. We look forward to the ways that these faculty will continue to create an exceptional academic experience and a thriving intellectual community.

Finally, the board wants to express its full support of the plan to begin our 2020-21 academic year on the South Hill campus on Monday, October 5. Trustees feel that this decision by the president and senior leadership team is student-centered, responsible, respectful, and supportive of the needs of IC students, faculty, staff, and families as we welcome a new class of students to South Hill during an evolving pandemic crisis. The board is excited about the next academic year, and looks forward to seeing all of you in person, on campus in the fall.


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

Shirley M. Collado
President, Ithaca College