At its first meeting of the semester, the Ithaca College Faculty Council has established a regular relationship with the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, addressed the student protests at the end of the fall semester and discussed a significant budget deficit for the 2015–16 fiscal year with possible impacts from President Obama’s community college plan.
Linda Petrosino, interim provost and vice president for educational affairs, addressed the council at the Jan. 20 meeting, primarily about the student protests which took place in December 2014.
Petersino said members of the administration met with the protests’ student leaders prior to and after the protests. She said the administrators advised the student leaders on how to peacefully demonstrate and handle the unpredictable nature of a large crowd.
Petrosino said the administration was pleased with how the protests went.
“Overall, we are very proud of how students have conducted themselves,” Petrosino said.
Petrosino also told the Faculty Council that the protests may continue this semester.
The council also recalled the request of Deborah Harper, director of the Office of Counseling and Wellness, who asked for additional resources at the Dec. 2 faculty council meeting.
After being asked by faculty council about the potential for a new full-time position in the Center for Counseling and Psychological services, Petrosino said while a new position will be considered by the administration, adding new full-time staff is rare.
However, Petrosino also said a new part-time staff member has been approved using the college’s emergency funds.
Gerald Hector, vice president of of finance and administration, spoke to the Faculty Council about the current budget issues and fielded questions for about half an hour.
Hector said after the college went through zero-based budgeting for the 2015–16 fiscal year, and it found the initial budget to be approximately $6.5 million short of ZBB projections. Hector said his office will not be not making cuts from every department’s budget, but will be looking at where excess amounts are being spent.
Hector said the budget, which has to be approved by the board of trustees, will be much more transparent than in years past. Hector made a joke about the specificity of the upcoming budget.
“I want to be able to track who is eating all that damn food,” Hector said.
Peter Rothbart, Faculty Council chair and professor of music theory, history and composition, asked Hector whether or not the administration had taken into account President Obama’s proposal to make the first two years of community college free for students with above a 2.5 GPA.
Rothbart said he believed the proposal would have deep ramifications for the college academically, but he said he wondered if it could also have deep ramifications financially. Rothbart brought up how the college has had troubles with transfer students from community colleges due to the requirements of the Integrative Core Curriculum.
Hector said his office and other college administrative offices had yet to talk about Obama’s proposal.
In addition, Rothbart announced that the Faculty Council Executive Committee will begin meeting with the board of trustees twice a year.
At the onset of the faculty council meeting, Rothbart said after speaking with Thomas Grape, chairman of the board of trustees, and Ithaca College President Tom Rochon, the Executive Committee is tentatively scheduled to attend the October and May board of trustee’s meetings.
Rothbart said to his knowledge, this is the first time the Faculty Council and the board of trustees will have regular contact.