Thomas R. Rochon served as the eighth president of Ithaca College, from July 2008 to June 2017. During his nine years as president, Rochon drove transformational change focused on increasing educational quality and controlling student tuition costs, taking full advantage of the possibilities inherent in a college that offers both liberal arts and preprofessional programs.
Through the IC 20/20 strategic plan, the college established an innovative Integrative Core Curriculum, created more meaningful linkages between student leadership in campus life and the lessons derived for future success, developed a comprehensive advising system that incorporated professional advisors alongside faculty mentors, linked alumni with students through the IC Mentoring Program, and established a New York City–based program of coursework and related internships that complemented existing programs in Los Angeles and London.
His affordability initiatives included a deep rethinking of the administrative staff structure in order to economize on the number of positions, a centralized purchasing program that will save the college millions of dollars per year, and an aggressive program of increased need-based financial aid. These and related efforts enabled the college to hold net tuition increases to historic lows during his presidency.
Under his leadership, the percentage of African, Latino(a), Asian, and Native American (ALANA) students at Ithaca College nearly doubled to 20 percent, meeting an objective of the IC 20/20 strategic plan five years ahead of its goal.
Upon the conclusion of his presidency, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees conferred on him the title of president emeritus. He also serves as chairman of the Tompkins Financial Corporation's board of directors.
Prior to his selection as the president of Ithaca College, Rochon served as executive vice president and chief academic officer of the University of St. Thomas, where he oversaw the university's six schools and colleges. He championed a university effort to strengthen community service and partnership activities in Minneapolis–St. Paul, leading to Carnegie Foundation classification for community engagement. He was a member of the faculty at Princeton University and Claremont Graduate University, and while in Claremont also served as dean of the School of Politics and Economics.
Rochon holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Michigan. His research focus was on contemporary European politics and on social movements in Europe and the United States. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including research grants from the National Science Foundation and the American Philosophical Society, as well as the Susan Louise Dyer Peace Fellowship at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. He was also a Fulbright lecturer at Kobe University in Japan.
His 1998 book, Culture Moves: Ideas, Activism, and Changing Values, received a Distinguished Scholarship Prize from the American Sociological Association and was named by Choice an outstanding academic book of 1998. He has given periodic lectures and seminars on Dutch politics for embassy personnel of the U.S. Department of State and has served on numerous advisory and other boards, including the President's Advisory Board of the Universidad Anáhuac México Sur in Mexico City.