Ithaca College President Tom Rochon has initiated a weekly series on his blog to update the campus community on challenges and developments facing the college. In response, faculty have used this blog as a forum to air their concerns.
On Monday, Rochon emailed the faculty and staff his first installment of the series, which he then published on his blog, the President’s Notebook, on Tuesday. The post describes challenges the college is facing, including the issue of balancing the cost of higher education while maintaining quality.
“We are never going to be one of the cheaper higher education options, so prospective students will not want to come to IC if we are not seen as offering the very best in quality. But if we continue to add to quality by increasing cost well beyond the rate of inflation, then prospective students will not be able to come to IC,” Rochon said in the post.
Rochon also noted the national issue of whether “traditional college education is worth it anymore” in the face of increasing online alternatives.
To address this, he said, the college has implemented IC 20/20 and begun to assess its finances with the assistance of Huron Education through an Effectiveness and Affordability Review.
On Wednesday, Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president for educational affairs, also began a series via email called “IC 20/20 Question of the Week” to the campus community. Questions can be submitted to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will post an email response to the most popular or timely question that week.
On Thursday, as a comment on Rochon’s blog post, 99 faculty signed a letter requesting “a full and open accounting of how funds are being allocated at Ithaca College.” Faculty said they are concerned about program review with the threat of cuts, office space issues and the relocation of the philosophy and religion department. At the same time, they wrote, the college is investing in things not considered a priority by the majority of faculty members, such as “funds in the China Center, the New York City Center, the new administrative team for advising, new software for e-portfolios, and the costs of the consulting team.”
Faculty agree in the letter that cost is a concern at the college, but they said where the college is shrinking and expanding is not completely in line with faculty concerns. They said they would like to see evidence for how online education poses a threat to the college and how “its funding priorities are the best ways to ward off that threat.”
The letter comes in the wake of continuous faculty attempts to communicate concerns with the administration throughout the semester. The Faculty Council has held three all-faculty town hall meetings where discussions included shared governance, salary and IC 20/20 implementation.