Tom Rochon, the president of Ithaca College, announced Thursday that he will retire in 2017.
“I believe it is best for [Ithaca College] 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 fall,” Rochon wrote in a statement to students and faculty.
Rochon’s retirement comes amid months of protests and calls for his resignation by students, alumni, and faculty.
The protests centered on claims of racial injustice on campus. The student protesters said public-safety officers at the school racially profiled students.
Protesters also highlighted an incidents in which a black female alumna was called a “savage” by fellow panelists at a college event, and in which a fraternity had a party with a “Preps and Crooks” theme, according to The Ithacan, the college’s student newspaper.
Students conducted a “die-in” in November — during which they lay down throughout the campus and simulated being dead as a form of protest.
At the end of November, nearly 2,700 students at Ithaca College — or 72% of those who voted — cast a vote of “no confidence” in Rochon, The Ithacan reported.
“If 70% of the people that you are supposed to lead don’t believe in you, it’s time to go, and it’s time to go fast,” Dominick Recckio, the Student Government Association’s president, told The Ithacan.
He also pledged to work tirelessly to remove Rochon from office.
Rochon’s retirement follows a trend that swept college campuses this past fall. Students at a number of college campuses led protests against alleged institutional racism on campuses, claiming their schools were run by ineffectual leaders who refuse to address the systemic issues.
The University of Missouri made headlines in October with student-led protests by a group calling themselves Concerned Student 1950, a reference to the year an African-American student was first admitted at the school.
Students said there had been many instances of hate speech on campus, and their efforts forced the resignation of Missouri President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
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