President Tom Rochon and Interim Provost Greg Woodward released a full draft of IC20/20, the comprehensive 10-year strategic plan for Ithaca College’s future, to the campus community Tuesday.
After revealing the introduction to the plan at the all-college meeting Aug. 19, Rochon and Woodward continued to form the bulk of the document, which outlines objectives, initiatives and proposals the college may adopt in the coming decade.
The college’s board of trustees passed a resolution to support and endorse the main points of the document at a retreat Sept. 10-12.
“[The board] was very enthusiastic about it but recognizes that the details all have to be worked out by the campus,” Rochon said.
Larry Alleva ’71, vice chairman of the board of trustees, saw the initial draft of the plan at the trustees’ retreat. Speaking on behalf of the board, he said he and other members are looking forward to seeing a more complete, fleshed-out plan once the campus creates it.
“The devil is in the detail,” he said. “It would be tough for me to gauge the degree of challenge until they bring [the finished plan] back to the board. It’s a bold plan that embraces our pursuit of excellence.”
Rochon said he will encourage the campus community to refine the plan during this academic year through task forces until there is an institutional consensus on its outlined proposals. From there, the board of trustees will review the plan a final time in May 2011. If approved, IC20/20 will be formally adopted as the college’s vision for the next 10 years.
“I’m excited by the whole, which is more than the sum of the parts,” Rochon said. “Some of the truly significant parts include having a much greater college-wide perspective on curriculum, as opposed to a school-centered perspective.”
The 20-page document elaborates on the introduction, calling for initiatives organized under seven broad objectives that Rochon and Woodward discussed with The Ithacan.
Drawing on existing proposals and initiatives, IC20/20 calls for the consideration of an interdisciplinary education requirement for all students. This 24-credit minimum would be created to further define an Ithaca College-specific education, Rochon said.
One of the newest proposals in the plan is a Peer Learning Curriculum that would encourage students to stop their normal course of study for a few days each semester to take mini-courses in other schools.
“We thought [this would be] one of the ways to have students be able to explore more in their time here,” Woodward said. “In other words, to be able to go into schools they normally wouldn’t get into and to meet students and to learn a little bit about other fields they normally wouldn’t get to engage with.”
The curriculum objectives also expand on specialized living communities, including creating a required first-year residential community, an optional sophomore living community and housing for transfer students.
In an effort to bolster alumni-student relations and offer more opportunities for networking, Rochon said he also included a proposal that could create a networking program of alumni mentors for interested students.
“Many alumni have clamored for exactly this opportunity,” Rochon said. “We have not had a program to do that, and we haven’t had the technical ability to match up the interests of alumni with the interests of students. In the era of Facebook and IC Peers, finding those matches is far easier.”
Over the next decade, Rochon said, the college’s commitment to faculty excellence will continue. The IC20/20 plan includes the formation of a Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, a department that would be staffed by professionals in faculty development, assessment, instructional design and technology and enrichment.
This isn’t the first time a department like this has been proposed. Last semester, Faculty Council debated whether hiring a new staff member to assess faculty would be effective.
“This is a much broader commitment to faculty development, especially focused on the demands for teaching excellence in a time where technology is changing fast,” Rochon said.
Rochon said funding for this project and all the projects of the vision would need to be drawn from new sources, including fundraising and a capital campaign.
Coming off the heels of diversity initiatives like the “I Am Diverse” campaign, which focused on highlighting students’ racial, social and personal traits, and diversity listening sessions held last year on campus, the IC20/20 vision includes broad provisions and goals for fostering diversity at the college.
The plan includes an initiative that would “incorporate learning outcomes focused on diversity into every student’s program of study, through the major, minor, liberal education curriculum, graduation requirement or course electives, as well as through student life.”
The plan also states a goal to increase the number of international students and faculty and to encourage students to study abroad.
In the past, the college has hosted a number of conferences and workshops geared toward teaching faculty how to integrate service-oriented learning in their classes. With IC20/20 in place, the college would eventually create a Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement to direct community service
initiatives in the classroom and in living communities on campus.
Citing the effectiveness of some existing learning communities, Rochon said having more specialized living communities on campus would benefit the student body. He said he visited the Spanish living community, Vecinos, and the Outdoor Adventure Living Community on Sunday. He said students gave positive feedback about their residence halls.
“The students in those living communities spoke eloquently about how being part of a themed residential experience added to their overall campus experience,” he said.
In the area of faculty assessment, the IC20/20 plan pulls from existing initiatives, stating the administration’s desire to continue in a similar vein with reviewing faculty performance through initiatives such as student evaluations at the end of every course.
Continuing toward its goal for national recognition, the college will continue to expand its graduate studies programs.
In addition to considering more master’s programs with a fifth-year option for undergraduate students, the plan would aim to strengthen online learning and professional development programs.
The final section of the plan focuses on the national and international sphere of influence the college possesses. The college administration would consider the creation of an Ithaca College center in New York City while expanding existing centers in Rochester, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and London.
Woodward said the New York City center has been an ongoing topic of discussion.
“For years, there’s been conversations about the advantages of having our students … study in New York and take advantage of the resources there,” he said.
Rochon said the center would illustrate the broad goals of the entire plan.
“This is there not because it just sounds like a fun idea,” Rochon said. “It’s there because it connects to the biggest theme of this entire document — to focus student learning in ways that are integrative, applied and inquiry-based.”