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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 22, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Presidential Search Committee Stands by decision

The campus members of the Presidential Search Committee wish to respond to any concerns about candor, transparency, and process that may have emerged in the wake of the recent article in The Ithacan and other news sources regarding allegations that were made against President Shirley M. Collado roughly 20 years ago.

Although the details of the presidential search must continue to remain confidential, we want the campus community to know that during the interview process and before any recommendation was made about whom to hire as Ithaca College’s next president, an overview of the circumstances of the allegations and the result of the court case was provided to the full search committee by Shirley Collado herself. We were also aware of the fact that the complete court file was shared with the Board of Trustees, which has ultimate responsibility for the selection of the college’s president. That decision seemed then and seems now to be appropriate to us, as we recognized the importance of balancing transparency with a respect for Shirley’s privacy about this matter.

The information provided to us on the allegations did not alter our assessment of Shirley’s qualifications, nor did it diminish our firm confidence in her ability to be a remarkably effective, deeply humane, and engaged president of Ithaca College. On the contrary, we understood this occurrence to be — as she described it in an interview published by the college on March 1st, 2017 — a “formative” experience in her life, one that contributed to enriching her understanding of and empathy for the struggles of troubled and vulnerable people.

Because we knew that Shirley Collado was carefully vetted by the Board, and because of the thoughtful forthrightness with which she addressed these events when she spoke to us about them, we were convinced that it was appropriate to keep some details of this very painful matter private. We also took into account that these events occurred at a time when President Collado was quite young, quite alone, and utterly lacking in resources or support. Nevertheless, she chose to share some aspects of this part of her life in her  March 1 interview, where it remains accessible to the public today. We stand by our decision to handle the matter as we did, and President Collado retains our undiminished and heartfelt confidence and support.

Claire Gleitman, on behalf of the campus members of the Presidential Search Committee