President Tom Rochon and Interim Provost Greg Woodward spoke with students in a facilitated discussion about IC20/20, the college’s 10-year strategic plan, Oct. 7 in Emerson Suites.
In the meeting, designed to gather student input about the vision, Rochon and Woodward questioned the group of around 25 students about their thoughts on aspects of the plan, ranging from having a required minor or foreign language to more freshman housing and international outreach. Rochon said IC20/20 is a vision for the college designed to maximize student learning.
At the meeting, Rochon said the plan looks at the entire undergraduate experience in a fresh way. After opening with a joke about how he never thought the pun in the name of the plan would stick, Rochon went on to tell the students the goal is to make them life-long learners.
“You have a special role in this process,” he said. “You, the students, know more than anyone else what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Ithaca College learning experience.”
Rochon said though the plan will span the next 10 years and most ideas will be implemented after current students graduate, students still need to speak for both current and future students.
Interim Provost Greg Woodward then explained the seven broad initiatives that form the basis of the plan. He went over the vision highlights, which include development of the undergraduate curriculum to embrace more integrative and inquiry-based learning, more living communities to enhance civic engagement and the expansion of the college’s national and international reach.
“We need information and opinions from everybody,” he said. “It’s a huge plan. Now it’s time to choose which items we really believe in.”
The floor was then opened to students, who were told to ask questions about any of the seven initiatives and contribute ideas or concerns about any of the potential changes.
Several students expressed interest in the first initiative, which addresses curriculum changes. The majority of students at the meeting supported a more integrated curriculum and tossed out ideas about required seminar classes and cross-school or cross-major classes.
A half-hour into the meeting, a small group of students voiced their concerns about the wages of Sodexo employees and questioned if any changes were planned to stop using the contractor or pay the workers a living wage.
Rochon briefly addressed the group’s concerns, adding that he would speak with them at another time about the issue.
“We do not hold them to the living wage standards that we pay every single college employee,” he said. “Those are [Sodexo’s] employees — it’s not the same.”
The larger group then moved on to discuss housing and whether it would be beneficial to require all freshmen to live in all-freshmen housing. Students who supported the idea mentioned how beneficial the first-year learning experience was for them.
Students against mandatory freshmen housing argued students should still have the option to join other housing communities.
Senior Chelsea Crawford said the college’s choice to engage a group of students in discussion about large-scale plans was beneficial.
“It’s nice to have a forum to be able to express those ideas in a meeting like this,” she said. “It’s thorough and a little overwhelming but heading in the right direction.”
Woodward said he hoped there would have been more students in attendance. He said the college is planning six to seven hours of student feedback time in the future.
“It’s still not representative of the general population, but you have probably captured the strongest opinion of the student body,” he said. “However, it’s always certain kinds of students who come — the most engaged, vocal. Aren’t we trying to build a college that appeals to the best student anyhow?”
Rochon closed the meeting by telling students to be leaders in a changing world.
“You have a lot to be proud of,” he said. “The world is changing really fast, and your voices are really important.”