Dear Campus Community,
The Ithaca College Board of Trustees gathered on campus last week for its fall meetings, at which we welcomed the six new members who have joined the board since May—Rosanna Aybar, Luvelle Brown, David Meberg ’85, Orinthia Montague, Ellen Staurowsky M.S. ’78, and student trustee Yetunde Smalls ’21.
We are pleased to share with you now this update regarding our board’s time on campus, which included robust discussions, important decisions, and many opportunities for our trustees to engage with our campus community.
Strategic Planning and Board Governance
The board spent time on its first day of meetings participating in thoughtful conversations around board leadership and our strategic planning process. Richard Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards, led a discussion around governing board best practices and the challenges that are specific to higher education. We were honored to have Rick with us to share his expertise and offer support of our institution, particularly in light of President Collado being named to the AGB’s Council of Presidents.
Following Rick’s session, Susan Baldridge, the college’s strategic planning consultant and former provost at Middlebury College, updated the board on the planning process and led visioning exercises around the plan. The board also discussed the president’s charge to the strategic planning steering committee.
Trustees were deeply engaged during the strategic planning session with Susan, and many found themselves discussing and connecting back to the strategic plan during other meetings and moments while on campus. The board wants to offer its thanks and support to the members of our community as we collectively undertake this important process at the college.
Board Action and Leadership Updates
2019-20 Tuition, Room, and Board
During its business meeting, the board unanimously approved the 2019-20 tuition, room, and board recommendations from the college’s leadership after thorough and thoughtful discussions around our commitment to remaining both student-centered and forward-thinking stewards of the college’s resources. The board makes its decision to set tuition during its fall meeting in order to provide this information as early as possible to families to support their decisions around college applications and admissions.
Tuition for 2019-20 is set at $45,275, a 2.95 percent increase from the current year. The rate of a standard double room will rise by 2.35 percent to $8,769, and standard meal plan by 1.35 percent to $7,088, bringing the total cost for most students living on campus to $61,132. This will continue to be offset by the college's ongoing commitment to providing institutional and need-based aid to ensure that an Ithaca College education is accessible. This year, more than 90 percent of our students are receiving institutional aid, totaling $127 million.
The level of increase in tuition from the current year reflects our diligence in balancing efforts to keep costs as low as possible for students and their families while simultaneously investing in a high-quality student experience, evidenced most recently by the strategic enhancements to programs and personnel in the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life. Maintaining this balance is an ongoing challenge the board and the college’s leadership focus on intently. We look forward to continuing to work with our community to embrace this challenge, particularly in the context of our efforts to envision and to plan for the future of our institution.
“Deep Dive” Sessions with Senior Leadership
The board continued its meaningful practice of participating in “deep dive” sessions that are designed to explore critical areas of the college and topics in higher education. During last week’s meetings, members of the senior leadership team facilitated these sessions for trustees. La Jerne Terry Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, provided the board with her insights, observations, and ideas for our academic enterprise. Bill Guerrero, vice president for finance and administration, updated the board on the college’s financial health and discussed the college’s investment strategy and results. He also recommended two changes that will be effective beginning this academic year: moving the board’s annual budget approval vote to the May meeting as opposed to February, and adjusting the end of the college’s fiscal year from May 31 to June 30, which is standard in higher education. Finally, Gerard Turbide, vice president for enrollment management, provided detailed data and rich context on trends in enrollment, applications, and retention.
Board Engagement with the Campus Community
We ended our first day of meetings with a dinner in Emerson Suites, celebrating the college’s most recently tenured and promoted faculty members. This is an annual event—and an important one—marking a proud professional milestone for our faculty. The board and the college’s leadership were honored to participate, and to hear about the expertise and achievements of these faculty members.
Board members also had opportunities throughout the three-day meetings to spend time with each of our deans and to participate in “immersion events”—dedicated time for board members to experience life at Ithaca College. The fall events included programs hosted by the deans of the School of Music and School of Humanities and Sciences; a luncheon program with many of our student-athletes and coaches hosted by Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports; and campus tours. These immersion events provided trustees with many moments to understand today’s Ithaca College experience from student, staff, and faculty perspectives.
These planned events are a continuation of our deliberate, ongoing efforts to strengthen shared governance and build a sense of community at IC, and trustees deeply value the in-depth opportunities to meaningfully connect with the campus and the authentic interactions that happen during these moments.
Due to the fall board meetings taking place as the college was beginning fall break, there was no open session held for the campus community with board leadership. The board is firmly committed to robust community engagement, and an open session is planned for the February meetings.
Fountain Place and President’s Residence
We also want to share that the board was updated on the potential sale of 2 Fountain Place and the adjacent 2 Willets Place. The sale is under negotiation with possible buyers who have expressed their interest in turning the properties into an owner-occupied bed and breakfast inn. We look forward to finalizing the sale.
Regarding the on-campus presidential residence, plans for construction continue to move forward. This residence is still in the design phase, and groundbreaking would not be expected to take place until the spring of 2019. More information will be shared with the campus community as plans unfold.
We want to thank the members of our board for their engagement and participation in last week’s meetings, and we want to offer our deep thanks to the members of our community—students, staff, and faculty—who made these meetings so informative and so special. We look forward to our next board meetings, scheduled for Wednesday, February 13, through Friday, February 15, 2019, here in Ithaca.
Shirley M. Collado
President, Ithaca College
David Lissy ’87
Chair, Ithaca College Board of Trustees