ITHACA, NY – On Saturday, Dec 5, Ithaca College associate professor of management Donald Lifton passed away suddenly, according to a statement from the college.

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The college’s statement referred to Lifton, who was 69, as “a master teacher in the finest sense of the word. He took great pleasure in mentoring other faculty who desired to improve the quality of their teaching, and he did so with great humility.”

Lifton, born in 1945, spent much of his life engaged with Ithaca’s academic community. Lifton studied at Cornell, completing his undergraduate degree in 1967 and returning to finish his doctorate in 1988. He married a fellow Cornell alum in 2005.

Lifton taught at Ithaca College for nearly 30 years. Academically, he was best known for his “World of Business” course, which the college’s statement described as “his passion.” The course, created 10 years ago, was designed to both challenge and engage first-year business students.

Earlier this year, Lifton was the recipient of the Oracle Honor Society Faculty award. Winners of this award are nominated by high performing students who felt that the faculty member made an exceptional positive impact on their experiences.

Lifton, receiving the Oracle Honor Society Faculty award earlier this year.

Lifton was also politically active both on campus and in the local community. He served on the Faculty Council for a number of years up until his death, where he focused on issues of faculty right and responsibilities. The statement characterized his work in those areas as “legendary.”

Last year, he took Cornell’s then-President Skorton to task about the University’s unwillingness to contribute more financially to city it calls home, according to a report from the Ithaca Times.

“From his Peace Corps service in Brazil to his long and productive faculty career, Don devoted his life to making a difference. The impact that he had on the lives of others is his enduring legacy. He will be sorely missed,” reads the college’s statement.

In a comment on the Ithacan’s coverage of Lifton’s passing, IC Student Body President Dominick Recckio wrote, “Yesterday our community lost one of its most caring and kind hearted members. Don was a great man, who put his heart and soul into his work… I am proud and lucky to have had him as a mentor and advocate during this tumultuous time at Ithaca College.  He had a resolute voice, and it’s my hope that that will live on.”

Arrangements for a service are pending.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.