The Ithaca College Board of Trustees welcomed La Jerne Cornish to the position of interim president for the 2021–22 academic year in an Aug. 30 email to the campus community.
Cornish’s term begins Aug. 30 and former President Shirley M. Collado moves to the position of senior advisor to the interim president and the board of trustees. The board also thanked Collado for her four-year tenure as president.
“Dr. Cornish is poised and prepared to continue the incredible work already underway at the college, and we reaffirm the board’s utmost confidence in her ability to successfully and seamlessly lead IC during this academic year,” said David Lissy ’87, chair of the board of trustees, and Jim Nolan ’77, vice chair of the board of trustees, in the email.
In an email to the campus community Aug. 30, Cornish said the strategic plan, Ithaca Forever, emphasizes that students are the college’s “why.” She said she wants to keep students at the center of the college and outlined six priorities that she has for the academic year.
Cornish’s six priorities are creating a community of care to become a model for student engagement and care; building a sustainable financial model; managing public health and the COVID-19 pandemic; stabilizing enrollment; leveraging innovations in teaching and learning; and continuing to be committed to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“The changes from the plan have made a positive and necessary impact on our ultimate goal of attaining an Ithaca Forever community,” Cornish said in the email. “Thank you for all you have done to contribute to this process.”
Cornish also said she understands that some changes over the past year have been difficult. She mentioned the college’s work to realign the size of the faculty and programs to meet the number of students at the college. She acknowledged that there is more work to be done with the strategic plan.
“We will continue to persevere in the efforts that we have invested ourselves in since 2018 to realize our mission to educate, engage and empower through theory, practice and performance,” she said in the email. “As we continue our forward progression, we do so knowing we are in this together and we will succeed, together.”
Collado will remain at the college until Dec. 31, when she will leave to become the president and chief executive officer of College Track. Over this academic year, the board of trustees will consider the next steps in the search for a new president.
“The board continues its diligent work to determine the best approach to planning for the next Ithaca College president and discussions will continue throughout the fall as we solidify those plans,” the email said.
The All-College Gathering will take place in person at 12:10 Aug. 31 in the Emerson Suites. It will be Cornish’s first time addressing the college as the interim president.