Ellis L. Phillips Jr., the fifth president of Ithaca College, oversaw sweeping changes to the College's structure, from physical to academic to administrative.
During Phillips's tenure, the College underwent a major restructuring of the institution into six undergraduate schools (the health sciences and human performance schools were merged in 1988). Phillips was responsible for a reorganization of College governance and judicial codes, as well as the formation of a community council that gave broad representation to all segments of the College. He renovated Friends Hall and made substantive changes to the face of the campus with the start of construction on Muller Chapel, the addition of two floors to the library to complete Gannett Center, and the building of new headquarters for physical plant and public safety.
Phillips was born February 26, 1921, in New York City. He received an A.B. degree from Princeton University in 1942. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he entered Columbia Law School and received an LL.B. degree in 1948.
Phillips's career took him to the New York law firm of Burke and Burke, where he spent five years as an associate. In 1953 he became a professor at Columbia Law School, where he also served as an assistant dean until his departure for Ithaca College in 1970. From 1957 to 1958 Phillips also was special assistant to Ambassador John Hay Whitney in London.
After ending his presidency at the College, Phillips provided education consulting services and served as president of the Action Committee for Long Island from 1978 to 1981. While maintaining his affiliation with the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation -- a charitable organization that supports the arts, education, and historic preservation -- Phillips worked with various groups, including the Bangor Theological Seminary, Vermont Historical Society, New England Foundation for the Humanities, and Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. He also was a member of the Grumman Corporation and Wiltek boards of directors.
Phillips was elected to the board of trustees in 1976, and was named president emeritus and honorary trustee in 1986. Ithaca College also awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree that same year. In the board resolution conferring the degree, the trustees lauded Phillips as "a distinguished educator, administrator, and philanthropist whose vision, energy, and generosity have benefited this College and many other fine institutions and organizations."
He died September 28, 2006, at his home in Massachusetts.