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 Thursday in Emerson Suites.
In the meeting, designed to gather student input about the vision, Rochon and Woodward questioned the group of about 25 students about their thoughts on aspects of the plan ranging from having a required minor or foreign language, to more freshmen housing and international outreach.
IC20/20 is a vision for the college designed to maximize the student learning experience, Rochon said.
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 that the goal is to make the students 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 initiative is planned to span over the next 10 years and most ideas will be implemented after current students graduate, they still needed to help 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 include 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 about everything,” he said. “It’s a huge plan. Now it’s time to choose which items we really believe in. I hope students continue to find a way to give us more and more feedback.”
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, cross-school or cross-major classes. Students also discussed ways to make it easier for students to take courses in schools other than their own.
A half-hour into the meeting, a small group of students also voiced their concerns over the wages of Sodexo employees and questioned if any changes were planned to stop using the sub-contractor or pay the workers a living wage.
Rochon addressed the group’s concerns, saying he would speak with them at another time about the issue.
The 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 and how freshmen housing helps students make friends and join clubs.
Students against mandatory freshmen housing argued students should still have the option to join other housing communities.
The conversation moved back to the curriculum and a discussion about better programs to help students with double majors incorporate their two fields.
Senior Katie Henly said she was interested in the initiative and hopeful that the plan would make it easier for students to take classes all across campus.
“I’m thrilled about the integrated curriculum that everyone kept talking about,” she said “Ithaca has so many different facets to it, and it’s so important to take advantage and have it made easier to get into classes.”
Senior Chelsea Crawford said the college’s choice to engage students in discussion about large-scale plans was smart.
“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. Getting students involved early on in process says a lot about the value of the plan.”
Crawford said the president and provost made it clear that student options and feedback offer a different, but important, viewpoint.
“There’s so much students have to offer in terms of what they’re thinking and how that can apply,” she said. “A lot of these things, I’m sure a lot of people have the same thoughts. It’s just a matter of voicing them and how we can apply it to the issues.”
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, which he said should be enough.
“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 telling students to be leaders in our quickly changing world, and said he hopes the college can create an educational experience to give students the tools to do that.
“You have a lot to be proud of,” he said. “The world is changing really fast, and your voices are really important.”