The fourth and final candidate for the open position of vice president for enrollment management spoke at an open forum held April 26 about his connection to Ithaca College and how he has helped to lead the institution through difficult times.
Gerard Turbide, the final candidate, has served as the interim vice president for enrollment management since June 2015. He has worked at the college for approximately 23 years, beginning in 1993 as the assistant director of admission. Turbide served as the director of admissions for nine years before stepping into his interim position.
The individuals present at the event who are part of the presidential search committee could not comment. All other members in attendance did not wish to comment.
Turbide is the only candidate to come from inside the college, which he called “a benefit and a burden.”
He said serving in the interim role this past year has been the most challenging professional experience he has encountered and one that he wants to continue.
“I did not anticipate, as I’m sure most people did not, the events of this year and the lessons to be learned in that,” Turbide said. “Leadership for me has always been a choice about doing something rather than waiting for someone else to do it. So I come to this opportunity compelled to take this next step.”
Turbide said what is needed in the next vice president for enrollment management is someone who can engage the campus community directly in conversations about enrollment decisions at the college. He said these conversations would help lead to better campuswide understanding of the connection between enrollment challenges and the institution’s financial challenges.
After his introduction, Turbide opened the floor to questions. He was asked about his ideas for innovative approaches to retention. Turbide said the college needs to move its framework for enrollment management from a “pipeline” model, where students are funneled into the institution, to a continuous “stream,” where students enter the institution at their own pace and remain connected to the college after they graduate. Rather than dealing with enrollment as a numbers game, the “stream” approach focuses on the needs of students and maintaining relationships with alumni to increase overall enrollment and retention.
“Moving to a stream concept is moving from an institutionally centered approach to a student-centered approach,” Turbide said. “Which is what we want to be — Ithaca College at its best is a student-centered organization.”
Tom Bloss, information systems manager at the college, asked Turbide to speak to an issue that concerns higher education nationally and how Turbide has addressed this at the college.
Turbide spoke about affordability, although he said addressing that issue was and continues to be a challenge.
Turbide said ranking in The Economist’s “The Value of University,” which ranked colleges based on alumni earnings, is an important accomplishment that has been made because, despite the high cost of attendance, the value of an education at the college remains.
David Cameron, recruitment marketing Web content producer, said he has seen many people over the years be asked to lead in an interim position and decide not to put themselves up as a candidate for the permanent position. He asked Turbide, given the challenges he has faced, what compelled him to try for the permanent position.
Turbide said it is very difficult to watch a community in turmoil, referring to the student protests that occurred throughout the fall semester. He said it is his personal connection to this college that keeps him here.
“I love this community,” Turbide said. “If I can play a role in advancing Ithaca College and continuing to make this a great place to be, I’m in.”