Ithaca College is severing its nine-year long partnership with Cornell in Washington — beginning in spring 2020, IC students will no longer be able to participate in CIW. IC withdrew from the partnership, citing concerns over program costs.
CIW began in 1981 and has given Cornell students the ability to intern and study in Washington, D.C. For nearly 40 years, the program has blended an off-campus internship experience with classes taught by Cornell faculty.
Ithaca College students have participated in CIW since 2011, according to Dr. Tanya Saunders, assistant provost for international programs and extended studies at Ithaca College. That year, President Thomas Rochan of Ithaca College and President David J. Skorton of Cornell collaborated to allow Ithaca College students to apply and participate in Cornell in Washington.
“From what I understand, at that time, the Cornell in Washington program was not filled to capacity, therefore having Ithaca College students would help Cornell and give our students a great experience,” Saunders told The Sun.
Ithaca College has historically been allocated two slots per semester.
Dr. Saunders told the Ithacan, IC’s student newspaper, that after eight years of the program, the costs of sending Ithaca College students to Cornell in Washington were becoming unsustainable to the university. Cornell and Ithaca College had been negotiating for a year prior to Ithaca College’s withdrawal.
Ithaca College students participating in Cornell in Washington pay full Ithaca College tuition and the cost of Cornell in Washington’s program fee to Cornell, which exceeds that of the regular housing fee for Ithaca College students.
Currently, Ithaca College lists housing costs as $4,385 per semester for a standard double, while Cornell in Washington’s housing and programming fee is recorded as $6,202 on CIW’s website.
While the students end up paying similar amounts — $30,260 for a semester in Washington as opposed to $30,422 at Ithaca College — the program places higher costs on Ithaca College students receiving financial aid.
Funds that would normally go to Ithaca College from students’ financial aid awards are not accepted by Cornell, and Ithaca College must cover whatever the excess cost to prevent participating students from paying more.
Two past Cornell in Washington alumni from Ithaca College, Salvatore Karch and Josephine Ullman, shared their concerns about the loss of the program with The Sun.
“I think it’s a pretty big hit,” Karch said. “Obviously that’s a huge opportunity lost, the fact that we won’t be able to go to Washington D.C. anymore.”
Ullman interned for the film Soccer in the City as part of its documentary crew, and attributed her continued employment with the film to her experience with Cornell in Washington.
“I’m still working at the job I got for Cornell in Washington, I started as an unpaid intern and now I’m working for pay and I got promoted to a higher title,” Ullman said.
Both students support reinstating the program, though Karch noted the “tricky situation.”
Carol Fields Hagen, the current director of administration for CIW, also voiced support for reinstatement to The Ithacan.
“I would like it to be reinstated,” said Saunders, the IC provost. “And I would like Cornell to charge me less money. I mean in a nutshell, that’s it.”