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March 4, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 23°F

Opinion

Faculty of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences letter to the Board of Trustees, Feb. 12, 2021

Dear Chair Lissy, and all members of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees

The Faculty of the IC Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences write to you to share our dismay at both the process and result of the current Academic Prioritization Process (APP). The proposed cuts to our faculty will have far-reaching effects on our degree programs because each one of us represents specific specialty areas. Every faculty hire in ENVS was a strategic decision based on considered evaluation during external program review and consultation among faculty and administration for building strength in particular areas.

With these cuts, the administration has made curricular decisions regarding the shape of our B.A. and B.S. degrees and our minor. These decisions result in the de-facto determination of the substance of our curriculum without our input. As proposed, the recommendations would impact ENVS in many ways, including the following: 

  • The elimination of Dr. Fae Dremock’s position means that students would lose her lose invaluable expertise in writing, science communication, and environmental humanities, as well as life experience in environmental advocacy and resilience as a first generation BIPOC (LatinX) woman. Dr. Dremock has been a powerful force promoting diversity and inclusion in ENVS. She has brought lived experience, empathy, and a tireless devotion to student learning that invites first-generation, low-income, and students of color to find their place in environmental studies. She has created a center of gravity in our department around environmental and climate justice, one of the most important growth areas in environmental studies and a key leverage point for mainstreaming anti-racism, social justice, and inclusive excellence. Her removal extinguishes a vibrant and successful program in experiential environmental humanities, which included an international, peer-reviewed online journal (Alluvian) and a student-led online environmental communication outlet (Roots)
  • The elimination of our part-time faculty members Mr. Tim Drake and Mr. Jed Jordan will result in the loss of irreplaceable expertise and teaching skill in experiential environmental education. Mr. Drake has been a leading force in contemplative pedagogy and in the formation of the Nature Rx program at IC. 

It is particularly troubling that people were told their positions were cut based on the recommendations of the “draft” the Shape of the College were commenced — even before the document was publicly released. While we are committed to providing our students with the best learning experience possible with the resources available, we owe our students and employees nothing less than to approach any necessary changes in a collaborative, strategic, and inclusive manner.

We respectfully request that the APP be paused and reconsidered with true collaboration and good-faith discussion on the actual future shape of Ithaca College.

Sincerely,

The Faculty of the Environmental Studies and Sciences Department