Ithaca College's 8th President, Tom Rochon, spoke at the March 4th meeting of Ithaca Rotary.

President Rochon outlined details of the direction Ithaca College is going in during this rough period and what they are looking toward the future. He noted that during this period of financial instability the college has opportunities to take advantage of as well as challenges to work through.  The following is a synopsis of his major points:


  • Choices made by community leaders at this dark time will mark them all as members of the community.
  •   Higher education will be dealing with greater demand for services, BUT it's different for private colleges. The price point for private education and a four year commitment to that price point are requiring private institutions to ask questions about access and how to improve it for families.
  • He noted some opportunities in these dire times: 1) To go back to basics, asking fundamental questions about mission, separating the "nice to haves" from the essentials; 2) To find those previous choices that actually hinder the mission or present obstacles to the mission.
  • At Ithaca College, these opportunities are taking shape: Last Fall, Rochon asked members of the I.C. community "What is the heart of the mission of Ithaca College as a comprehensive college, and what steps need to be taken to enhance that mission?" One big thought: These times demand graduates that not only have a broad liberal arts education, have depth in a particular field of study, but ALSO have multi-disciplinary skills to approach multi-disciplinary problem solving. The best way to learn those things is to actually do them, so the next step is creating problem-based projects that join students and faculty from across departments and specialties.
  • The next phase of development for the college will involve a new articulation of Egbert's initial idea to build bridges between the allied schools and to give students a breadth of vision.
  • I.C. is cutting $4.2 million from its budget for the next fiscal year; about 4%. Currently enrollment for next Fall looks strong, but until checks and students arrive, it is unknown. Planned cuts will continue in 2011 and 2012. However, pilot programs to make budgetary expansions will accompany these cuts and will help the college move forward toward the changes previously mentioned.
  • A big step: the new events and athletics facility. The $60 million building was briefly in danger, due to the reduction of reserves and the faltering of the credit market. To combat those problems, I.C. is making the push to raise the funds to make up the remaining $7 million to start the project this Spring. The project could pump $50 million into the local construction economy over the next 24 months.
  • He noted a New York Times story on the affordability of small, 4 year private schools that featured  Ithaca College. I.C. has made a commitment to moderate tuition increases over the coming years and to increasing financial aid. Next year - 4.25% tuition increase, 10% financial aid increase.