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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Open Letter: SGC addresses campus on presidential search shift

Dear Campus Community,

Ithaca College is at a critical point in its history. With the Presidential Search Committee recently announcing that they will no longer be bringing final candidates to campus for public meetings, there has been considerable unrest on campus about this decision, which has spurred an opportunity to evaluate our campus in multiple lights as the semester comes to a close.

Despite disagreement on campus about the search decision to make it more confidential, our commitment to the importance of sustaining and creating working relationships across constituencies for the long-term wellbeing of the college continues. We encourage campus community members to engage in active dialogue with each other about the future of this institution, while also calling for the search committee to create the best atmosphere possible to allow for the success of the ninth president of Ithaca College.

In terms of having a more confidential search, this will give us a better chance at identifying qualified candidates who may be unable to come publicly to campus. Especially as we begin to run out of time in terms of our current President Rochon’s retirement, it puts us at a point where we may either have to find an interim or extend contracts if we do not make the search more confidential.

As the hiring in higher education changes in terms of presidents and candidates, we must respect this shift. As we have seen through the search committee’s efforts at keeping the search open, we must trust in their judgment in making the search more confidential. With the increase in the use of social media and the risks involved for candidates going into an open search, the trends of higher education moving to closed searches are reasonable.

Disengaging from the search categorically without considering the reasoning of the search committee is unproductive and risks damaging our campus’s long term future. It is even more disheartening to see that while we were once able to rally together as students, faculty, and staff to create a more sustainable future, we are unable to commit to that principle in supporting our colleagues in their decision.

As per our first letter in May, we are still asking “for cultural competency, transparency, servant leadership, shared governance, and most importantly, a greater level of respect across campus”. We would like to clarify that this not only applies to members of the search committee on whom the campus is dependent to be transparent and forthcoming, but also to campus community members themselves. Holding each other accountable does not simply mean critiquing, editorializing, and disengaging, it means creating pathways to meaningful conversations in the hopes of reaching a better solution. We implore the campus to think deeply and thoughtfully about how to move forward given the committee’s decision, and to ask questions regarding what we as community members can propose as routes of alternative engagement.

Best Regards,

Marieme Foote, Student Body President
Michele Hau, VP of Academic Affairs
Ezeka Allen, VP of Business Affairs
Danielle Weinstein, VP of Communications
Carlie McClinsey, Senate Chair
Meredith Husar, Chief of Staff