ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca College President Tom Rochon announced Thursday that he is retiring, effective at the end of the 2016–2017 academic year.
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He said in a public letter, “It is best for IC to be led in the future by a president chosen by the board specifically to make a fresh start on these challenges, including those that became so apparent to us all last semester.”
Mass protests at Ithaca College last semester made national news after students and faculty members called for Rochon’s resignation, following several incidents that people said were racially and culturally insensitive, among other complaints involving governance and diversity.

Related: Confused by turmoil at Ithaca College? Here’s a beginner’s guide

Ithaca College officials said in a news release that when choosing the institution’s ninth president, the board of trustees will conduct, “an inclusive search process that will solicit input from faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

In an email, Faculty Council Chair Peter Rothbart said:
“This has been a tumultuous year at many institutions of higher learning, including Ithaca College…This fall, strong voices raised issues vital to the health of our institution and our society; we as faculty have much work ahead of us.  Faculty Council will work with the entire faculty and benefit from our colleagues’ diverse perspectives to build for the future in collaboration with the broader campus community.”
The following is Rochon’s letter:

After much reflection over the winter break, I have decided to retire from the Ithaca College presidency effective July 1, 2017, following the 2016–2017 academic year. This timing will enable the board of trustees the necessary time to organize and execute a thoughtful and comprehensive search for my successor.

I am proud of the progress and accomplishments achieved by the college over what will be a nine-year tenure as president.

Together we have created and implemented the key elements of an ambitious strategic plan, IC 20/20. We brought new levels of excellence to areas that needed our concerted focus, including consistency of academic advising, support of community-based learning, development of a student-alumni mentoring network, and the establishment of a general education program that is destined to become a national model.

Our ICNYC program in New York City has joined our long-established centers in London and Los Angeles as an opportunity for students to combine coursework and internships in one of the world’s greatest cities.

The Center for Faculty Excellence and the flexible faculty workload model both create additional opportunities for faculty to offer the truly excellent educational experiences that have long characterized Ithaca College.

Perhaps most important in this era of economic constraints, we have introduced administrative and operational efficiencies that preserve first-class, student-oriented service while enabling us to hold tuition increases down to historically low levels and more than double the college’s financial aid budget to nearly $120 million projected for next year.

At the same time, I recognize that colleges evolve through eras defined by new opportunities and challenges.

I believe it is best for IC to be led in the future by a president chosen by the board specifically to make a fresh start on these challenges, including those that became so apparent to us all last semester. I look forward to working with the college community over the next 18 months in a constructive and collaborative way, making progress on issues of diversity and inclusion, shared governance, and decision making.

I also want to work toward reestablishing a stronger and more unified sense of the educational vision and cultural values that make Ithaca College so distinctively excellent. I am fully committed to working toward these outcomes and urge the community to join together to help prepare the college to attract a highly qualified leader to succeed me.

Ithaca College is a very special educational environment, centered on student learning and development across liberal arts and professional fields and committed to the highest ideals of creating an inclusive community of justice and respect.  It has been a privilege to lead the college through a time of challenge and change.

I look forward to working with the campus community in the months ahead, and to supporting the board in any way I can during the search and transition to a new president.

Sincerely,

Tom Rochon
President

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.