March 27, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 34°F


Editorial: Honors Program urgently needs contingency plan

With fewer than two months until Honors Program Director Thomas Pfaff will step down from his position, zero candidates have applied to replace him. The lack of candidates is alarming given the number of students currently in the Honors Program who would be left without faculty guidance.

However, the lack of applications for the position reveals issues that have gone unaddressed by the administration. These issues — requests for higher compensation to support the demands of the job and more staff support — have continually been brought up by Pfaff and the Honors Program Steering Committee.

For the administration to allow these issues to remain unanswered seems antithetical to the Ithaca College’s mission to improve the educational experience of students on campus by providing a more advanced and interdisciplinary program.

Pfaff had legitimate grounds to request more administrative and financial support with the expansion of the Honors Program in 2013. The program grew from a basic academic curriculum to a five-part consortium, and the demands of the program director grew along with it. As a more integrative and comprehensive program today, it also aligns more strongly with the college’s IC 20/20 vision and is a major attraction for incoming students. The actions, or lack thereof, that have resulted in Pfaff’s stepping down and the lack of interest in his position could make the program, the college’s image and the student experience suffer.

Comparable institutions with even fewer students in their honors programs have more staff support in the form of assistant directors and program assistants, positions that are sorely needed in this college’s Honors Program. The college’s administration should be more proactive and concerned with strengthening its program by providing more institutional support, funding and resources.

The college cannot let the Honors Program dwindle, as it would be yet another administrative failure during President Tom Rochon’s tenure at the college. To have no concrete action or contingency plan in place for the leadership of the Honors Program is a disservice to the work that has been done to expand and enrich the program. It is unclear where this area of need lies on the college’s list of priorities.

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