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SGC meets with Chief Financial Officer to discuss college’s plans

+Tim+Downs%2C+chief+financial+officer+and+vice+president+of+finance+and+administration%2C++highlighted+changes+the+college+made+over+the+summer+and+future+plans+for+the+college+during+the+Oct.+9+Student+Governance+Council+meeting.
Mari Kodama
Tim Downs, chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration, highlighted changes the college made over the summer and future plans for the college during the Oct. 9 Student Governance Council meeting.

The Ithaca College Student Governance Council met Oct. 9 with Tim Downs, chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration, who provided updates on the college’s financial investments during their meeting. 

During the meeting, Downs highlighted changes the college made over the summer and future plans for the college. Downs said that over the summer, the college bought two properties on Danby Road to manage control of development in the surrounding area. 

Downs also said Coddington Road Community Center, which offers childcare and youth programming, made a deal with the college to relocate some of their programming to the Circles Community Center for two years as they are expanding their current location. The center is also looking to work with current students in Spring 2024 and could continue to be a campus partner if things go well over the next few years. 

“This July, we were able to open it up and prevent 40 families or 40 kids from being displaced temporarily,” Downs said. “Somewhere between 35% and 40% of the kids there are Ithaca College families, so there is a benefit to us because … people who would have been displaced would likely be our employees.”

Because of labor shortages, Downs said that paving and construction have taken longer than expected. Some of the paving projects and construction on campus started when students arrived and are continuing into the school year. Downs said the construction on Textor Plaza halted for a few weeks as the college needed to acquire a New York state variance. 

Over the summer, the college also renovated five Terraces buildings. Downs said the college repainted and fixed lighting in the buildings, but most improvements came in the bathrooms. Downs said the new bathrooms focus on privacy with floor-to-ceiling renovations.

“They are not private bathrooms, but they’re certainly a lot more private than what they were,” Downs said. “We’re just talking some of the patch repairs of the tiles and we kind of redid the walls, fixing them up, and same with the showers.”

Downs said the college will repair the rest of the Terraces, then will focus on fixing the outside of the buildings. New improvements over the summer also include the Butterfield Stadium turf, outdoor basketball courts and new paving of the Terraces parking lot. 

Downs also discussed security investments made over the summer, like installing cabling and fiber underground by the front entrance of the college. This is a part of the college’s plan to put up cameras at all the entrances. Additionally, Downs said the college is trying to be thoughtful about where to put up more cameras after finishing this project. 

Carli McConnell, president of the student body, said cameras in parking lots would be a good place to put them next. McConnell said she has experience with people hitting other cars and is aware of the car break-ins that have happened.

Downs said the college has been investing money into transportation for students this year. The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, which is free this semester for all students, is charging the college on a per-ride basis. Downs said he will be looking at the data from TCAT and will determine how the college will continue the partnership in the future. The college is looking into the current ridership of Ithaca Bikeshare and will potentially get Bikeshare charging stations installed at the college based on those numbers. 

Downs’s report also included information on the college’s budget. Downs said enrollment over the last two years is some of the lowest the college has seen in recent years. The class of 2024, who started at the college at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have roughly 700 graduates. Downs said the college is looking to have an incoming class of 1300 students, increasing enrollment by 600 students. Because of the low enrollment, Downs said this led to the college getting two of the worst operating budgets in their history approved. Last year, the college saw a $2.7 million surplus and this year had the budget approved with a deficit of $12.5 million. 

Downs said that as the student enrollment starts to come back up as the smaller classes graduate, the college is going to rebound and come back to a more equilibrium point. Downs also said the deficit is not paid for by debt. Downs said the college uses debt to pay for things like capital improvements and more long-term projects. 

“The last time we took out new debt was 2011, so we have not taken out new debt and we’ve been paying it down over a period of time,” Downs said. “Our high watermark for debt was about $190 million around 2011. Right now, we’re probably down to about $110 million, which for a college our size is [on] the low side.”

Following the presentation by Downs, sophomore Caleb Cackowski, vice president of communications, gave a presentation on public relations and representing SGC as a senator or executive board member. Cackowski said it was important to be a line of communication between the representatives’ constituents and the topics discussed in SGC. 

“There are people who will come in here that the general students will not interact with on a daily basis,” Cackowski said. “There are people we talked to, whether it’s the provost or the president or someone that might recognize us because of the SGC, but they’re not going to know every other student. So if we relay their initiatives or the spirit of their efforts to our constituents when they have a concern about something, we get to represent them.”

Additionally, senior transfer senator Blake Matthews, who was on a leave of absence, resigned from the SGC. 

The SGC is the sole representative body for the Ithaca College student community. The SGC can be contacted at [email protected].

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Makai Yllanes
Makai Yllanes, Assistant Video Editor
Mari Kodama, Photographer
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