ITHACA, N.Y.—Ithaca College President Shirley Collado has announced her resignation from the college, according to a campus e-mail from the school’s Board of Trustees.

The school announced the decision Thursday afternoon. Collado subsequently sent a message to the campus community. She is leaving to take the president and CEO position with College Track, a college completion program. Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish will step into the interim president role on August 30, 2021. Collado is officially leaving the school January 10, 2022.

“President Collado will assume the role of senior advisor to the interim president and the board of trustees through December 31, 2021, helping to ensure a smooth and successful transition for Provost Cornish as well as working on distinct external projects that are currently in-process to help advance the college’s strategic plan,” according to the school’s message. “The board will also be taking this time to thoughtfully consider and evaluate the best approach to planning for the next Ithaca College president.”

The Board of Directors congratulated Collado on her service as president and her decision to depart. Collado’s follow-up email called the decision “bittersweet.”

“During the past four years, we have embarked upon extraordinary work together, making significant strides toward ensuring the resiliency of Ithaca College and its ability to shine as a place that offers a vibrant and student-centered higher education experience,” Collado said. “I believe so sincerely in the promise of Ithaca College, and I will always cherish the exceptional people within this community whose lives I have been honored to be a part of. Many of you have become trusted friends and valued colleagues. And to our students—you are the true promise of Ithaca College, and you will stay in my heart forever.”

Collado was a celebrated addition to Ithaca College in 2017, becoming the first person of color to hold the position of president at the school. She was hailed as a breath of fresh air for a college that had just endured months of protests over the leadership of former school president Tom Rochon.

More recently, though, her tenure was marked by controversy and frustration, as the school underwent large scale staffing cuts as part of the Academic Program Prioritization plan. In 2018, the school newspaper The Ithacan also broke news of a misdemeanor sexual abuse conviction in Collado’s past, though she denied wrongdoing in the situation.

In the past several months, professors, staff and students alike have all spoken out frequently in opposition of the APP plan, including protests, but the school has said it is necessary for their financial sustainability—the board thanked Collado in its email for accepting the plan and setting the college on a “bold and realistic” path.

“I have spoken frequently about the moment that we’re in—both Ithaca College as an institution and our shared humanity as a nation,” Collado wrote in her farewell email. “This is a tumultuous and urgent time that calls upon all of us to lean into difficult, honest dialogue and bold action in order to transform our communities and create a just, sustainable world. Higher education is a crucible where the systemic inequities that mark our culture are visible and palpable. It is also a sector with boundless opportunities to make very real change that impacts generations and strengthens us as a nation.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com