Following protests over a series of racially charged events, the Ithaca College president has announced his retirement.
Tom Rochon said he was proud of the work he had done at the college in New York.
“At the same time, I recognize that colleges evolve through eras defined by new opportunities and challenges,” Rochon said. “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.”
As we reported, in a vote last semester both faculty and students expressed they had no confidence in Rochon over his handling of racially charged events on campus. In perhaps the most well-publicized example, two white men used racially charged language to refer to a black student participating in a roundtable discussion.
The event led Rochon to hire a chief diversity officer but that didn’t tamp down criticism. As The Ithacan reported at the time, students of color organized a protest designed to indict Rochon for what they said was “incompetence.” Alyse Harris said that while the college “may be labeled as ‘diverse'” it has not “created the infrastructure to support students of color.”
The group POC at IC, which led the protests last semester, responded on Facebook today by writing: “There is power in the collective. We did it!”
The college said that Rochon’s retirement is effective July 1, 2017.
In his statement, Rochon said that he made his decision “after much reflection over the winter break.”