December 3, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 42°F


President Tom Rochon’s Ice Bucket Challenge

Ithaca College President Tom Rochon took the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Ice Bucket Challenge for all of the college community to witness on Sept. 5 near the Dillingham Center fountains.

Nominated by Cornell University President David Skorton on Aug. 28, Rochon said he decided to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because he could not decline an invitation from his colleague at Cornell. Skorton also nominated Carl Haynes, president of Tompkins Cortland Community College, to do the challenge.

“It seems so appropriate that the president of Cornell would challenge the presidents of his two sister institutions,” Rochon said.

Rochon selected four representatives of the campus community to pour the ice water on top of him: Peter Rothbart, chair of the Faculty Council and professor of music theory, history and composition; Amanda Lippincott, chair of Staff Council and professional development coordinator in the School of Humanities and Sciences; and Mia O’Brien and Jonathan Cunningham, co-chairs of the Senior Class.

O’Brien said she was excited when asked to help Rochon take on the challenge.

“It was a tremendous honor, and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to get an email from the president asking him to dump a bucket of ice on his head,” O’Brien said.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge helps spread awareness of ALS by encouraging participants to donate money for research, according to the ALS Association’s website.

The Ice Bucket Challenge started as a way to raise money for people with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a degenerative disease that progressively affects nerve cells and destroys the brain’s ability to control muscle movement, according to the ALS Association’s website.

Rochon said although people have been aware of ALS for decades, social media allows for the ALS Association to raise funds in order to take action against the disease.

“Like so many people, I didn’t even know there was an ALS foundation prior to the beginning of this national movement,” Rochon said. “I’ve long known about the disease, but it’s so great to have national attention focused on fighting the disease this way.”

Senior Wendy Lopez, who attended the event, said the event allowed her to see a different side of Rochon, who she said is always well dressed. In place of his usual attire, Rochon wore casual slacks and an Ithaca College T-shirt.

“It was entertaining to see [Rochon] look so laid back and comfortable for once,” Lopez said.

Upon taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, Rochon said he and his wife have also donated to the ALS Association. As of Sept. 5, the ALS Association has received $109.1 million through the ice bucket challenge, according to the ALS Association website.

Rochon nominated Erik Bitterbaum, president of SUNY Cortland; Greg Hartz, president and CEO of Tompkins Trust Company; and Peggy Ryan Williams, former president of the college, to take the challenge.

Sara Kim can be reached at or via Twitter: @sara_Y_kim