Ithaca College administrators discussed the Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process, the college’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Spring 2021 activities during the All-Student and Family Gathering on Feb. 25.
Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process
President Shirley M. Collado and La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, approved the final recommendations for the elimination of 116 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty members and 26 departments, majors and programs Feb. 24. The decision was met with criticism and grief from members of the college community.
Cornish said the decisions were made because the college needs to realign the size of the faculty to match the size of the student body. She said the creation of a faculty resource monitoring committee will monitor the size of the faculty to prevent further faculty cuts in the future.
During the meeting, a student submitted a question expressing concern over some of the faculty members being cut. They asked Collado and Cornish how they expect the quality of education to continue as many beloved professors are losing their jobs.
“In order to increase curricular flexibility, to give our students opportunities to continue to engage in wonderful academic programs, we need to reduce the size of the faculty,” Cornish said.
Cornish said the college prioritized retaining tenured and tenure-eligible faculty as well as liberal arts programs. The majority of FTE reductions are occurring in the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S), according to the final recommendations. There are 20 departments in H&S that will have to make 41 faculty cuts.
Christina Moylan, director for public health and emergency preparedness, said that during the period of Jan. 7 to Feb. 14 — which included move in — there were 23 positive student cases detected through arrival testing out of 3,900 students. In the same period, there were 22 employee cases out of 850 who were tested.
Some members of the campus community have already been able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. New York state released new eligibility guidelines for who can be vaccinated in Phase 1b on Feb. 19. Moylan said approximately 55% of faculty have received notice that they are eligible to be vaccinated, along with approximately 25% of staff and approximately 1% of students.
Moylan said people who are eligible to receive the vaccine can submit their information to the Tompkins County Vaccine Registry to receive more information regarding signing up for an appointment. People can also get vaccinated at a state vaccine clinic but must complete the emergency travel request form in order to leave the county. She said that if students need to travel home to get vaccinated, they should also complete the travel request form. Moylan said anyone leaving the county for a vaccine should try to make same-day trips to limit potential exposure.
A student submitted a question asking what can be done when students see other people breaking COVID-19 guidelines. Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty said students can and should hold each other accountable for following the guidelines to be on campus this semester. She said students can also submit violations through the Community Agreement Reporting Form.
Moylan said student-to-student conversations about following COVID-19 guidelines can be more effective than students submitting reports of violations.
As of Feb. 26, there are seven active cases: two residential students, three off-campus students, one faculty member and one staff member.
Spring 2021 activities
Michele Lenhart, director of the Office for Student Engagement, said there are currently 250 events listed on IC Engage for students to take part in, and the number grows as organizations add more events. She said events are still being held virtually, which creates more opportunities for more speakers or guests who might not have been able to travel to participate in events.
Hierald Osorto, director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and executive director for student equity and belonging, said there are weekly religious services held both on Zoom and in person. In-person services are done through a registration process, he said. Osorto also said there are virtual meditation events students can take part in.
Cheryl Rotyliano, director of Career Services, said the Career Services office is open for both in-person and virtual visits this semester. She said there will be four industry-specific career fairs throughout March and April.
Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics, said club sports and intramurals are beginning to return to practices and will have to submit health and safety plans prior to in-person activities. She said intercollegiate sports are beginning practices and training. Bassett said an announcement about Liberty League competition will happen within the next week.