On Aug. 29, the Ithaca College administration hosted an All-College Gathering for students, staff and faculty to come together, hear the administration’s latest updates and voice their concerns regarding changes on campus.
President Shirley M. Collado opened the gathering with a speech that highlighted the positive changes the college will see during the 2019–20 academic year. This fall, the college welcomed 1,600 new undergraduate students and 240 new staff and faculty members, Collado said. Throughout the gathering, Collado and other administrators also announced the college’s increased student retention rate, praised a new five-year blueprint for the college’s future and expressed excitement for the upcoming Cortaca Jug game at MetLife Stadium.
The gathering’s focus on positive change was refreshing, and it proposed renewed excitement for the college campus and community. The new in-house dining plan is undoubtedly a monumental change for the campus, and it helps strengthen the college’s relationships with local businesses and lessen financial burdens for students. The college’s increased student retention rate and the addition of a permanent mobile food pantry on campus are both worthy of praise. But the administration’s focus solely on positive changes also raises a crucial concern: Is the celebration of these changes premature?
In June 2019, the college released “Ithaca Forever,” a five-year blueprint for the college’s future. At the All-College Gathering, administrators praised the plan’s commitment to students, the larger Ithaca community and positive change. The document, which will be the college’s framework for change in the coming years, highlights a number of the administration’s primary goals, including its desire to build a thriving campus community. It would be premature to praise the plan until it leads to concrete steps for action.
The plan comes after nearly a decade of tension and turbulence within the college’s administration. When Collado was inaugurated as president of the college in Fall 2017, she brought with her a sense of rejuvenation, hope and excitement. The college’s renewed dedication toward positive change should be recognized — but let’s not celebrate too soon. As the administration moves forward with its plan that will likely take years to implement, we must remain aware of the college’s complicated relationship with transparency. The community can’t be expected to support the administration’s efforts if it doesn’t provide information regarding budget and staffing — both of which significantly influence the college’s culture and community. Moving forward, the college community must remain conscious of the administration’s claims of triumph and insist on the implementation of concrete change.