Posing in interior space.

Shirley M. Collado served as the ninth president of Ithaca College from July 2017 through August 2021. She currently is senior advisor to the interim president and board of trustees through December 31, 2021. Beginning January 2022, Dr. Collado will lead College Track, a comprehensive college completion program, as president and CEO in collaboration with Emerson Collective  and transformative philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs.

In the role of senior advisor, Dr. Collado contributes to the successful transition of Interim President La Jerne Terry Cornish in collaboration with the college’s 28-member board. In addition, she works to further specific, cross-sector projects that push toward the attainment of goals within the college’s strategic plan, Ithaca Forever.

Dr. Collado is the first person of color to have been named president of Ithaca College, and the first Dominican-American in the United States to serve as president of a four-year institution.

Dr. Collado led the college through a dynamic and challenging time, marked by the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic; national and global civil action and unrest around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the widespread recognition of the vulnerability of the traditional business model for higher education, particularly for enrollment-driven private, residential institutions such as Ithaca College.

The creation and implementation of Ithaca Forever, the college’s five-year strategic plan, is a hallmark of Dr. Collado’s time at IC. Partnering closely with then-Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish, Dr. Collado drove the completion of the plan in academic year 2018-19, and in 2019-20 began its implementation. Ithaca Forever has resulted in transformative change at the college in keeping with the institution’s vision of being a global destination for bold thinkers seeking to build thriving communities. Significant examples of this include the establishment of the college’s physician assistant master’s program; the designation as a Davis United World Colleges Scholars Program institution; and the creation of interdisciplinary, responsive majors such as screen cultures and race, power, and resistance studies.

In addition to providing a foundation for the development of proactive alternatives and ground-breaking partnerships to put the college on a path toward financial sustainability, Ithaca Forever proved to be a critical tool in the college’s ability to withstand the disruption of COVID-19. A plan for change had already been put in place, and its activation was accelerated.

In her first year at IC, Dr. Collado launched the Seed Grant Initiative, which offered grants to individuals and teams of faculty, staff, and students to support ideas and projects that engendered connection and full participation within the campus community, and the President’s Fellows Program, which annually selected five-to-six member cohorts comprised of faculty, staff, and students to participate in one-year leadership-focused fellowships in an area of the college outside of their existing responsibilities or studies. Both programs were designed to empower and support members of the Ithaca College community in envisioning and creating lasting personal, professional, and campus-wide change.

Additionally, at the beginning of her tenure, Dr. Collado secured support at Ithaca College for the cross-institutional program BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, which she founded in 2016 with a $5.4 million grant from Helen Gurley Brown Foundation. IC’s BOLD network is now in its fifth year at the college, has drawn an investment to-date of almost $3.5 million into the college, and includes 46 scholars and alumnae, all of whom participate in a culturally competent and successful intergenerational network of successful women leaders, change agents, and mentors from all backgrounds.

Dr. Collado placed a high priority on representing the values of Ithaca College on a national stage, those values being academic excellence, respect and accountability, innovation, sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. A persistent champion of students and families from all walks of life, Dr. Collado used her voice and her presidency to advocate on behalf of equity in all forms and the responsibility of the higher education sector, in particular, to examine existing structures and barriers that prevent full participation on campuses and in our communities at large—and move toward real change.

An example of this advocacy came in her approach to building a diverse senior leadership team.

At the start of her tenure, Dr. Collado committed to assembling a senior leadership team and helping to build a board of trustees at the college that reflected varied backgrounds, intersections, and areas of expertise—a necessity in both tackling existing challenges in the sector and in enabling students to see themselves reflected in leadership. This approach garnered national attention, resulting in a highly regarded editorial published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, one of the sector’s flagship news outlets.

A second national piece, co-authored by Dr. Collado and then-Provost Cornish, turned the spotlight on the imperative for change in higher education from a structural perspective, highlighting the innovative Ithaca Forever strategic plan as well as the need to more rapidly unpack and shift legacy inequities that exist within the academy.

Other significant national coverage includes: a co-authored piece with the City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick which establishes the power of cross-sector partnerships; an article in USA Today regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion on campuses; and a column in Higher Ed Dive indicating the importance of prioritizing student mental health.

Executive Experience

Prior to joining the Ithaca College community, Dr. Collado served as executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at Rutgers University–Newark. She led the implementation of key elements of the university’s strategic plan and oversaw academic affairs, student affairs, and core institutional operations including academic services, enrollment services, student life, human resources, facilities, information technology, and budget and finance.

At Rutgers, Dr. Collado also spearheaded the development of the Honors Living-Learning Community, a cohort-based residential honors community aimed at attracting and supporting talented students who may be overlooked by traditional honors programs.

Before her appointment at Rutgers-Newark, Dr. Collado served at Middlebury College as vice president for student affairs and dean of the college, and associate professor of psychology. She oversaw and supported a dynamic student body and academic community while managing numerous departments and offices.

Before joining Middlebury College, Dr. Collado served as the executive vice president of The Posse Foundation, where she significantly grew the organization and managed operations on a national level. A not-for-profit organization and one of the most comprehensive college-access programs in the country, Posse identifies, recruits, and trains outstanding youth leaders from urban public schools and sends them in diverse teams, called “posses,” to top colleges and universities around the country.


Dr. Collado received her undergraduate degree in human and organizational development and psychology from Vanderbilt University in 1994 and earned MA and PhD degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University. She is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in trauma among multicultural populations at the intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Personal Life

Dr. Collado is the Brooklyn-born daughter of Dominican immigrants and is herself a member of Posse’s inaugural class of students and the first person in her family to undergo the transformative experience of college matriculation and graduation. She is also the first Posse scholar to receive a doctoral degree and become a trustee of an institution of higher education—her alma mater, Vanderbilt University.

She is married to A. Van Jordan, an award-winning poet. Jordan serves as the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of English Language & Literature.

Service, Accolades and Publications


Member, Board of Trust, Vanderbilt University

  • Member, Governance and Board Affairs Committee and Academic and Student Affairs Committee
  • Former Officer of the Board (Secretary), Former Chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee

Member and Officer of the Board (Secretary), Board of Trustees, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York

Member, Council of Presidents, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges

Founding Member, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration

Member, The Presidents’ Trust, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Select Accolades

City & State Higher Education Power 100 List, 2021

Helen Gurley Brown Magic Grant Recipient, 2016

Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow, 2016

Peabody Distinguished Alumna Award (Vanderbilt University), 2015

Select Publications and Media

Latinx/a/os in Higher Education: Exploring Identity, Pathways, and Success, 2018. Co-editors Dr. Shirley M. Collado, Dr. Angela Batista, and Dr. David Perez II.