The Ithaca College Board of Trustees approved the operating expense budget for the 2022–23 fiscal year, elected three new members to the board of trustees and re-elected six members — including Luvelle Brown, superintendent of the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) who is facing allegations of child abuse — at its May 2022 meeting.
The meeting was held from May 19 to 21 on the college’s campus. In a May 25 email sent to the college community, David Lissy ’87, chair of the board of trustees, and President La Jerne Cornish summarized the highlights of the meeting.
The board elected three new trustees who will serve for four years. Kenneth Fisher ’80, Parent ’20, and John Neeson ’84 will serve as term trustees for four years and Alexa Rahman ’24 will serve a two-year term as the student trustee.
The board re-elected five trustees to serve three-year terms: Rosanna Aybar; David Meberg ’85, Parent ’23; James Nolan ’77, Parent ’01; Kristin Muenzen ’00; Doug Weisman ’78, Parent ’06; and Luvelle Brown.
Brown has been on the board since 2018 and the superintendent of the ICSD since 2011. Brown has been facing pressure from the Ithaca community to step down from these positions after allegedly abusing his son and misusing his power as superintendent. IC Alumni Against Austerity and IC Open the Books started a petition in February 2022 demanding Brown step down from his positions. As of May 25, the petition has 308 signatures. Both groups also called for Brown to not be re-elected to his position on the board.
David Bachrach ’70 and student trustee Kalena Yearwood ’23 are both stepping down from their positions following the completion of their terms.
The email also stated that the board fully approved the recommended $203.5 million operating expense budget for fiscal year 2022–23. The budget for fiscal year 2022 was $222,276,717 and for fiscal year 2021, it was $188,656,855.
According to the email, the operating budget reflects an estimated 4,310 full-time undergraduate students enrolled at the college and includes $115.8 million dedicated to unfunded institutional financial aid. This number only represents the college’s direct investment in students and does not include restricted financial aid, donations or government funds.
The board approved a $19.3 million capital budget, which includes $4.8 million for deferred maintenance projects and $2.15 million for Information Technology (IT) upgrades. The approved capital budget also includes $6.7 million for campus improvements, including the exterior renovation of Dillingham and Alumni Circle renovations, which are funded out of the board’s strategic reserves.
The budget also includes an overall 4.5% increase in total compensation and benefits, which includes a July 1 base salary increase of 2% for employees meeting expectations and an additional 0.5% pool available for merit, equity or market adjustments during the upcoming fiscal year.
“The TIAA employer contribution match will be increased from 5% to 7% effective July 1,” the email stated. “The required employee contribution to receive the 7% match will be reduced from 5% to 3%, allowing employees who choose to do so to increase their pre-tax take-home pay by an additional 2%.”
At its meeting, the board awarded promotions to 11 faculty members, including five faculty members who were promoted from associate professor to professor. These included: Jake Brenner, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Science; Emilie Wiesner, professor in the Department of Mathematics; Annette Levine, professor in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Catherine Taylor and Jack Wang, professors in the Department of Writing; and Dennis Charsky, professor in the Department of Strategic Communication.
Five faculty members were promoted from assistant to associate professor. These included: Julie Blumberg, associate professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies; Michael Caporizzo, associate professor in the Department of Performance Studies; Amie Germain, associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy; and Austin Jones and Amy O’Brien, associate professors in the Department of Theatre Arts.
Jack Bryant, associate professor and program director of the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies, was awarded tenure.
David Weil ’87, MS ’89, chief information officer for IT, spoke to the board about the college’s changes in technology and how it can continue to evolve. During the meeting, Weil shared that IT maintains over 4,700 laptop and desktop computers with over 55 miles of fiber optic cables connecting buildings across campus. Additionally, the college held 185,110 Zoom meetings in 2021.
A working lunch was held at the meeting to allow for two dozen faculty and staff members to share how they are using technology in their teaching and learning.
Campus community engagement
In the email, the board also shared that a reception and dinner was held for two years’ worth of newly promoted and tenured faculty — a tradition that has not been held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board also held plenary sessions focusing on enrollment, shared governance and student health services.
Following the board’s meeting, Lissy and James Nolan ’77, vice chair of the board of trustees, held a meeting over Zoom with over 70 students, faculty and staff to discuss campus morale; alumni engagement; program changes in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; budget priorities; and financial aid.