Shirley M. Collado was named Ithaca College’s ninth president by the college’s board of trustees on February 22, 2017 and began her term on July 1. She also serves as a professor in the college’s Department of Psychology.
She is known nationally for designing and implementing innovative approaches to higher education that expand student access and success in college, and she has extensive experience overseeing complex not-for-profit organizations in both the private and public sectors of higher education. She is a national thought leader on developing successful cross-sector collaborations, building the capacity of diversity and inclusion in organizations, and strengthening the pathway to the professoriate and leadership roles in higher education.
With over 16 years of senior management experience prior to joining the Ithaca College community, Collado has been able to develop diverse, inclusive learning communities through her proven track record of strong leadership, robust fundraising, prioritized collaboration, budget management, strategic planning, and faculty recruitment and retention. Her leadership and management background has been further enriched by extensive board experience in various sectors including a premier private research university, a progressive K–12 independent school, and several successful not-for-profit organizations.
In January 2015, Collado joined the Rutgers University–Newark community as executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer. In this critical role, Collado 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. She worked to align many of the functions of those offices to increase inclusiveness and student success. She also continued her research and teaching pursuits at Rutgers-Newark as a faculty member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology with an affiliation in the Department of Psychology.
She also led the development of the Honors Living-Learning Community, a residential honors community at Rutgers-Newark aimed at attracting and supporting talented students who may be overlooked by traditional honors programs. Together, cohorts of students join an intergenerational learning community composed of students, faculty, and community partners focused on tackling some of the nation’s most pressing social issues through an innovative curriculum centered on local citizenship in a global world.
Prior to her appointment at Rutgers-Newark, 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. She successfully led transformative initiatives that strengthened the residential life experience for students; earned national recognition for an overhaul to the new-student orientation program; and developed forward-looking sexual misconduct and judicial policies.
Before joining Middlebury College, 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, The Posse Foundation 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.
Collado, the Brooklyn-born daughter of Dominican immigrants, is herself a member of The Posse Foundation’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, for which she currently serves as an officer and trustee.
Collado has a track record of securing support from national foundations that are focused on innovative and cross-institutional initiatives. For example, the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, which she founded in 2016, is a college-access and social justice initiative between California State University–Fullerton, Middlebury College, Rutgers University–Newark, and Smith College. The program aims to create greater access for cohorts of young women to higher education and to develop a culturally competent and successful intergenerational network of successful women leaders, change agents, and mentors from all backgrounds. It is being supported by a $5.4 million grant from Helen Gurley Brown’s Pussycat Foundation. Another example is the Creating Connections Consortium (C3), one of the most innovative faculty diversity initiatives in higher education. Collado designed and led the launch of C3 in 2012 with a $4.7 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As principle investigator for the new consortium, she enabled C3 to build a dynamic partnership that strengthened diversity and innovation, and broadened the pathway to the professoriate for underrepresented graduate students—including minority, first-generation, and low-income students—through enhanced interactions between liberal arts colleges and research universities. Additionally, Collado co-founded (in 2007) and co-led (until 2014) the national organization of Liberal Arts Diversity Officers, a national consortium that promotes the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion in support of academic excellence at liberal arts colleges.
Collado received her undergraduate degree in human and organizational development and psychology from Vanderbilt University in 1994, followed by 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. She has taught at a number of colleges and universities including New York University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, the New School, Middlebury College, and Lafayette College. A national thought leader on diversity, collaboration, and innovation, she has delivered numerous keynote addresses and presentations, facilitated workshops and trainings, consulted on initiatives with many organizations, and received several awards.
Collado serves as a trustee of the Board of Trust at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she chairs the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Governance and Board Affairs Committee. She also serves as a trustee at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City.
Collado 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. He also holds an appointment as distinguished visiting professor at Ithaca College.