More than 100 local and Cornell community members attended the seventh annual Town-Gown (TOGO) Awards ceremony Dec. 2. This year the celebration featured the three new presidents of Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) and three town-gown partnerships involving their institutions. The event, held in Ithaca High School, also recognized community leaders who have retired from or are leaving their elected or appointed positions.
All three presidents stressed the strength of the town-gown relationships in the county and the ways in which the local community has welcomed them.
“The town-gown relations in this community are just impressive,” said Martha E. Pollack, Cornell University’s 14th president, who was inaugurated Aug. 25. She noted the breadth of concerns these partnerships address: schools, the environment, economic development, housing, infrastructure, health care, and diversity and inclusion. She also highlighted the “enormous potential” of recent collaborations between Ithaca and Cornell’s New York City campuses. Pollack and her husband are “happy to call Tompkins County our home,” she said.
Shirley Collado, the ninth president of Ithaca College, was inaugurated Nov. 4 during the college’s celebration of its 125th anniversary. Ithaca College is so connected to the local community that it has been called Ithaca’s college, Collado said, noting how warmly the community has embraced her.
Orinthia Montague, who will be inaugurated as TC3’s fourth president in 2018 during that college’s 50th anniversary, has found many members of the local community, when learning that she is TC3’s new president, can point to a personal connection to the college. TC3 looks to expand those connections in a more engaging way, she said.
The breadth of town-gown relationships was further illustrated through town-gown partnerships recognized this year.
Gary Stewart, Cornell’s associate vice president for community relations, introduced the first of these, Leadership Tompkins, which is co-sponsored by the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and TC3. Leadership Tompkins educates future leaders about current county and regional issues and provides a forum for their active networking with current community leaders. Deb Mohlenhoff, TC3’s director of student activities, manages the program.
Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer for Cornell, highlighted the work that has been done through three collaborations of Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (TST-BOCES) with Cornell University, Ithaca College and TC3. Cornell’s Public Service Center partners with TST-BOCES to offer a career exploration program for BOCES students; the Teacher Research Fellows Inquiry Group is the product of a collaboration between Ithaca College and TST-BOCES to form a community of teachers from across the region; and TC3’s CollegeNow program partners with the Career and Tech Center at TST-BOCES to help students transition from high school to college.
College students also help build town-gown relationships, said Kathleen Schlather, executive director of the Human Services Coalition, through their work with community nonprofit agencies. Their activities range from working with toddlers or the elderly to setting up computer systems, tutoring, helping people file their income taxes, tabling events, or working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, for example.
Also recognized with TOGO awards were those who recently left or are leaving positions:
- John Barber, former police chief of the Ithaca Police Department;
- Will Burbank, Tompkins County legislator, District 12;
- Patricia Carey, Tompkins County Social Service Commissioner;
- Carol Chock, Tompkins County legislator, District 3;
- Susan Currie, director of the Tompkins County Public Library;
- Jim Dennis, Tompkins County legislator, District 5;
- Philly DeSarno, deputy director of economic development for the city of Ithaca;
- John Gutenberger, former director of Cornell’s Office of Community Relations;
- Dooley Kiefer, Tompkins County legislator, District 10;
- Rachel Lampert, artistic director for the Kitchen Theatre;
- Joe Mareane, county administrator;
- Josephine Martell, Ithaca Common Council alderperson, Fifth Ward;
- Ed Marx, county planner;
- Paul Mazzarella, director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services;
- Nancy Oltz, operations manager for Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit;
- Bob Riter, executive director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes;
- Dale Schumacher, executive director of the Learning Web; and
- Peter Stein, Tompkins County legislator, District 11.
Joel Malina, Cornell vice president for university relations, recognized recently retired Carl Haynes, who was president of TC3 for 23 of the 48 years he served at the college, completing the longest presidency in the college’s history.
Malina also thanked Ithaca City School District Superintendent Luvelle Brown, for hosting the TOGOs; Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars, who held a food drive before the event; and Boynton Middle School students, who provided music before the formal program.