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Shirley M. Collado Ph.D.

President of Ithaca College
Ithaca, NY

Shirley M. Collado was elected to the Vanderbilt Board of Trust in 2014 and became an officer of the Board (Secretary) in 2015.  She served as Secretary of the board through 2018. 

Collado has served as Ithaca College’s ninth president since 2017. An expert in organizational behavior and development, Collado has held executive leadership roles in higher education for close to twenty years at private and public institutions, as well as in the nonprofit sector. Trained as a clinical psychologist at Duke University, Collado specializes in the intersection of race, ethnicity, and gender in trauma experiences and treatment. She has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including New York University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, the New School, Middlebury College, and Lafayette College. She earned a B.S. in human and organizational development and psychology from Vanderbilt University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University.

At Rutgers University–Newark, Collado led the development of the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC), a residential honors community aimed at attracting and supporting talented students who may be overlooked by traditional honors programs. Together, cohorts of students join an intergenerational learning community composed of students, faculty, and community partners focused on tackling some of the nation’s most pressing social issues through an innovative curriculum centered on local citizenship in a global world. Collado played a central role in addressing some of the highest priorities in implementing the university’s strategic plan while engaging both internal and external stakeholders. She also worked to align the academic affairs and student affairs functions at Rutgers University–Newark in order to increase inclusiveness and student success.

Prior to her appointment at Rutgers University–Newark, Collado served as vice president for student affairs and dean of the college at Middlebury. During her time there, Collado led the transformation of the Center for Careers and Internships, the development of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the strengthening of the residential life experience, the development of forward-looking sexual misconduct and judicial policies, and the overhaul of a new student orientation program, which earned national recognition. 

The strategic work Collado has done to reach across institutional boundaries and build community has garnered widespread attention and support. For example, in July 2016 Collado developed and launched the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, a collaboration that started among Rutgers University–Newark, Middlebury College, Smith College, and the University of California–Fullerton. Funded by a $5 million grant from Helen Gurley Brown’s Pussycat Foundation, BOLD aimed to develop courageous leadership among college women who possess the skills necessary to move discourse forward on some of our nation’s most challenging social issues. In 2012 Collado, with a major grant from the Andrew A. Mellon Foundation, designed and led the Creating Connections Consortium (C3), regarded as one of the most innovative faculty diversity initiatives in higher education. C3 is a partnership designed to enhance interactions between liberal arts colleges and research universities in order to expand the pathway to the professoriate for underrepresented graduate students, including minority, first-generation, and low-income students.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Collado is the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. A member of The Posse Foundation’s first cohort of students, Collado is the first person in her family to complete college and the first Posse Scholar to complete a doctoral degree. The Posse Foundation recruits and trains outstanding student leaders from urban public schools and sends them in diverse teams, or “posses,” to attend top colleges and universities in the United States. Collado is also the first Posse Scholar to serve as a trustee on the board of an institution of higher education. She also served two terms as a dedicated trustee at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in New York City.

Collado eventually went on to serve as The Posse Foundation’s executive vice president. She credits her experience as a Posse Scholar with informing much of her future approach to leadership. What she experienced during her four years as a Posse Scholar was the transformational power of collaboration—of creating opportunity by forming a network of diverse people supporting one another to achieve success. Together, she and her fellow Posse Scholars learned how to bring out the best in one another, seek common ground, bring their whole selves into their work, and take risks that enabled them to achieve more than they might have tried on their own. Those are the same lessons she tries to impart in her students and colleagues, and the principles she uses every day to help her lead with authenticity, courage, and purpose.

Collado is married to A. Van Jordan, an award-winning poet and the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.


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