A little more than one year ago, I reached out to the Ithaca College community for my first time as president, sharing my excitement about becoming a part of the IC family. I told you a bit about myself, my husband, Van, my rescue dog, Lola, and how we were getting acquainted with the Ithaca area and the college community.
I want to connect with you now, again during the summer, to offer my sincere appreciation for welcoming me and my family in such a warm way throughout the past year. I am deeply grateful to be a part of a community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and Ithaca area neighbors who are invested in this institution and have great love for the college and great hope for its potential.
Whether you are on campus this summer, readying our college for the arrival of students and the start of a new academic year, or taking some time off, I hope you seize moments to relax with loved ones and prioritize the important time and space to recharge your mind and your spirit.
I am taking some much needed time this month, with Van and with my family, to catch up and deeply reconnect. I was honored to be a part of the celebration of my father’s 70th birthday earlier this month, and profoundly saddened to say goodbye to my beloved Lola, when her failing health made it clear to us that it was time to let her go. My niece, Jadyn, stayed with me in Ithaca for a couple of weeks in June, and was thrilled to have an opportunity to train with Coach Rick Suddaby and members of our talented women’s gymnastics team. And, just as I did last year, I spent time at the Hangar Theatre, attending the opening night of “Chicago” with Jadyn on June 29.
It may seem counterintuitive, but these personal moments we spend with loved ones are a significant part of our professional lives. They ground us as human beings, as spouses and partners, as parents and children, as friends and as family. They provide the foundation from which we each interact with our colleagues, the foundation for the ways in which we show up both at work and in the world at large.
A new academic year . . . filled with challenges, hard work, and promise
An important part of my time this month has been spent reflecting on my work at IC as I prepare for my second year as president, and the ways that we can, as a community, collectively activate the promise of our college’s future. When we come back together this fall, our ability to connect with one another as human beings and colleagues will be critical.
This next year is a pivotal one, as we collaborate to develop a strategic plan that will capture and articulate our dreams for the future of Ithaca College and for our work as key stakeholders in this community. This is a unique moment for all of us to identify our own priorities and hopes, and to understand one another’s priorities and hopes as well. As I mentioned in my end-of-year message, we have begun preliminary strategic planning work this summer with our process design team, and we are looking forward to sharing a strategic planning website next month, which will outline the steps in our process and solicit ongoing feedback from members of our community.
One of the most thrilling parts of this process is that not only will we envision our future—we get to live it and affirm it. We have the privilege and the responsibility of creating a reality that we want to be a part of. This holds true when we think about how we want to show up as part of our IC community—and it holds true when we think about how we want to show up as part of our wider communities during very challenging times for our nation and our society.
For example, just before the July 4 holiday, news broke that President Trump’s administration moved to rescind affirmative action initiatives related to college admissions. Weeks before that, we heard about ongoing efforts to shrink the U.S. Department of Education. Bias-related incidents and injustices still shake this nation, most notably the horror we’ve seen unfold at our country’s southern border, with children suffering and families being torn apart.
These difficult moments demand that those of us in higher education reflect on what we value and how we can contribute to efforts that encourage unity, understanding, and full participation on our campuses and in our communities. This summer has provided us with opportunities to do just that.
As we set the stage for the Ithaca College of the future, we can use these reflections as a springboard to activate our commitment to our institution’s mission of providing a foundation for a lifetime of learning and fostering intellectual growth, aesthetic appreciation, and the development of strong character in our students.
I look forward to welcoming you back to campus at the All-College Gathering on August 23 and sharing information about the state of the college, providing updates about our strategic planning process, and formally introducing the newest members of my senior leadership team: La Jerne Cornish, our new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; Bill Guerrero, our new vice president for finance and administration; and Guilherme Costa, vice president, general counsel and secretary to the board of trustees.
We have challenging and productive work ahead of us, which will define us as an institution and as a community for years to come. I am honored to do this important work with you, and as excited as I have ever been to be a part of the IC family.