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Board discusses how to make IC sustainable


Ithaca College board members discussed retention, presidential search and Luvelle Brown, board member and Ithaca City School District (ICSD) superintendent, accused of abusing of his power, at a meeting on 14 February. meeting open to members of the community.

The virtual openthe conversation session was moderated by David Lissy 87, Chairman of the Board, and James Nolan 77 years old, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors. About 55 people attended the event. Lissy and Nolan shared what the board discussed at its meeting that took place Feb. 9-11 and responded to attendees’ questions and concerns.

Lissy said that one of main problems discussed at the winter meeting was the retention rate, which is the percentage of students who remain enrolled in college for all four years. He said the college derives about 95% of its revenue from tuition fees and room and board, which leaves the college dependent on its ability to engage and retain students.

“As important as it is to do our best and attract students, you know, if we can’t keep them here once they’re here, then of course it becomes an even bigger challenge” , Lissy said.

At February 8 At the faculty council meeting, Elizabeth Bleicher, acting director of student success and retention strategy, said the third semester retention rate was 84.2% in the 2011 academic year and 2020.

Lissy said that to remain financially viable, the college needs to improve engagement and retention.

“We now have two classes [Class of 2024 and Class of 2025] that I see are much smaller than what we’ve had historically,” Lissy said. “They’ll be with us for four years so there’s really not much to do there other than hold them back. We need to be able to enroll larger classes in the next two years in order to continue to be sustainable.

Kelly Stern, Director of Enrollment Marketing in the Creative and Marketing Group, has worked at the college for 11 years. She said she felt the college was in crisis due to the number of changes it had gone through over the past few years.

“As a community for the past five years or more, we have endured zero-based budgeting, blue skies an event and consequences, student sit-ins at the Peggy Ryan Williams Center, an 18-month internship interlude as we waited for a presidential resignation, a radical change of leadership, –– starting with a new presidential inauguration –– a new strategic planprogrammatic transitions, eliminations and transitions majors, diploma programs, significant changes to orientation, elimination of Honors Programpresentation of new school programs“, Stern said. “These are just some of the things that we have all been involved in and affected together.

Stern said this crisis has created an unfair work environment where people are overworked.

“Nobody thinks he can take a vacation because there’s no one to cover in his absence,” Stern said. “People are already doing the work that at least two people, and more often three, used to do. What I want you to hear most, at least for me, is the exhaustion of many quorum members. It is [the college’s] most valuable asset, the people who make it what it is.

Lissy said he understands the current state of the college is not sustainable.

“I know it may seem hard to believe right now, but I wholeheartedly believe in our future,” Lissy said. “I’m not going to stop doing the work that I do tirelessly to try to influence the best possible future for IC.

Stella Rivera 19 said she was hesitant to recommend the college to interested candidates because Brown continues to serve on the board.

A letter who said Brown abused his power as ICSD ssuperintendent was sent to the New York State Department of Education. The complaint said Brown infringed on the rights of his ex-wife, Anjanette Brown, and misused resources in a way that negatively impacted their children. A petition was created on the same day as the reunion by IC Alumni Against Austerity in an effort to get Brown to resign.

“The Ithaca College Board of Trustees continues to help people with histories of abuse and has consistently placed these people in positions of power at our institution. … If those in power in this institution fail to address abuse by Dr Luvelle Brown, it sends the message that abuse is okay at all levels,” IC Alumni Against Austerity said in its petition.

“I don’t feel comfortable sending vulnerable 18 year olds to IC knowing that someone on the bcouncil of yourustees has been accused of such gross abuses,” Rivera said. “I don’t really understand, is there anything stopping you from talking about it, other than your personal relationship with him?”

Lissy said he regularly engages with prospective students and said he has incredible confidence in recommending the college. Lissy said he was unable to comment regarding Brown.

the vsollege is in the final stages of the presidential search process, and Lissy said he hopes the college will be able to communicate substantially within the next 30 to 60 days.

“I think we need someone who’s going to do the hard work to bring the community together,” Lissy said. “By community, I don’t mean just faculty, or not just staff or not just students, but also alumni. We are all united in the success of Ithaca College, and we need someone who can inspire that.