Recent staffing changes have been made in the Ithaca College Department of Student Equity and Belonging and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life following the departure of Hierald Osorto, previous executive director of both areas.
Two current staff members are stepping up into new leadership positions to fill the openings left by Osorto’s departure. News of his departure was first shared with the campus community in an Oct. 12 Intercom announcement and updates for the staffing in these departments and offices were shared in a Nov. 10 Intercom announcement. Rosanna Ferro, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Life, wrote both announcements.
Luca Maurer, director of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, is now additionally serving as the interim executive director for Student Equity and Belonging for the remainder of the 2021–22 academic year. Lauren Goldberg, executive director for Hillel at Ithaca College, is now additionally working as part-time interim director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life until May 22, 2022.
Maurer said via email that he was offered this new position after having a conversation with both Ferro and Osorto, his previous supervisor. He said he was sad for the college’s loss of Osorto, but that he is up for the challenge of taking on this new role.
“Student Equity and Belonging has been at the heart of my work for my past 20 years at IC,” Maurer said via email. “This is a wonderful opportunity.”
Maurer said he will supervise the Center for IDEAS, the Martin Luther King Scholar Program and the First Generation programs as part of his new position.
“I’ll support equity and diversity initiatives by co-chairing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action group, serving as the NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Designee, leading an upcoming campus climate survey process and coordinating a current campus climate initiative addressing antisemitism,” Maurer said via email.
Maurer said he feels thrilled to take on this new role and work closely with Goldberg.
“I am looking forward to making even more connections with students and colleagues to further the critical work of equity and belonging at IC,” Maurer said via email.
Goldberg also said she is excited to work more with Maurer. She said that she has been by Osorto’s side for years through his ordination process, and that the news of his departure was bittersweet to hear. Ordination is a status given by a church and the process, which may vary based on individual churches’ policies, may include receiving several different degrees and certifications.
“While he was working as the director for the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, he was also working simultaneously on fulfilling his ordination and it was beautiful to see that come to fruition, because that’s what he was born to do,” Goldberg said. “So, simultaneously with, like, the pain of knowing that I wouldn’t have my dear colleague next to me, I was happy for him to finally be able to actualize what his passion is.”
Goldberg said she thinks it made logical sense for her to fill this position due to her history working in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life as the executive director for Hillel at Ithaca College. She said she was on the search committee when the college was looking to hire Osorto, who was actually the inaugural director in the office, hired for this new position back in 2018.
“I think [Osorto] and I oftentimes said that we, like, shared one brain, you would hope that we shared two, but we were very much partners, thought partners, throughout the years here,” Goldberg said. “I was honored to be able to keep stewarding what he’s really built, he really created this office.”
Goldberg said that her role as executive director is mainly based in lifting up as many students as possible, and that the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life serves the same purpose, just in a broader tent.
“To be honest, I always felt, like, responsibility for any student that walked into [Muller] Chapel — this has just formalized that even more,” Goldberg said. “I think Hillel as an organization really tries to live that as well, although our primary user is Jewish students, that we’re really an open support network and empowerment system for anybody that wants to affiliate with the organization formally or informally, so it’s really just an expansion of that.”
A nationwide search will be conducted to find a more permanent successor to Osorto, according to the Oct. 12 Intercom announcement.
Junior Isaac Schneider, president of Hillel at Ithaca College, also said Osorto’s departure was bittersweet. He said he was excited to see what the future holds for both Hillel and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
“The only thing I would hope for the search is to be able to find somebody that’s as committed to, you know, diversity and equity and kind of the student body as a whole and like long term, as [Osorto was],” he said.
Goldberg said that she believes she is not meant to permanently serve as director, but that she will be perfect for helping search for that person. She said she does not currently have any information or timeline as far as the search process goes.
“There’s a really special candidate that’s out there, that for whom this job is perfect,” Goldberg said. “They want to grow this really unique, really warm, very innovative spiritual and religious community. That person for the long term will not be me, but I think I am a perfect person to help find that person.”
Goldberg said what she loves most about her work is that every day is completely different.
“At the center of everything that we do is being responsive to the students that walk through our door and so I just look forward to meeting even more students,” Goldberg said.