When Dominick Recckio ‘16 presided over the student body during the 2015-16 academic year, the campus was in uproar — students and faculty allied against an administration that was out of touch with the community’s needs. In a vote of no confidence, 71 percent of the student body disapproved of former president Tom Rochon’s top-down leadership style.

“As soon as that number came in, it was do or die to make this campus a better place for after I graduate,” Recckio said.

Recckio said that Rochon missed the moment to seize the cultural capital he gained from pledging to reconcile the college’s financial and communitarian interests, goals Recckio believed were compromised by Rochon’s administration. For instance, in 2012, Rochon consolidated the offices of educational affairs and student affairs, a move that Recckio describes as the “demon” that kept coming back to haunt his presidency.

Recckio was pleased to see Dr. Shirley Collado’s appointment of Rosanna Ferro to the post of vice president of student affairs and campus life.

“I know that it wasn’t a completely open search but it’s what the campus needed and I think it shows leadership,” Recckio said.

As student body president, Recckio worked to increase collaboration between student organizations in order to save money and incentivize synergy between groups that would otherwise not have had any association. A tool Recckio calls “social entrepreneurship” — a model which brings together altruistic and capitalist interests rather than one existing simply to make money. It has been the operating philosophy of his professional life post-graduation.

Currently, he is a volunteer teacher of entrepreneurial management with Youth Venture, United Way’s global education initiative, and the member relationship manager at the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce. Recckio takes pride in the chamber’s index of nonprofit organizations at 12 percent of total members, a higher ratio than every other chamber in upstate New York.

Recckio’s interest in community-oriented business ventures is rooted in an introductory business course entitled “Ideas into Action” he took during his freshman year. This followed his sophomore year by a competition at Rev Ithaca Startup Works, a local business incubator, where students pitch the best idea for a business.

His experience as an undergraduate mirrored the dream of Rochon’s administration and that of every higher education administrative body struggling to integrate their institution’s business programs with its departments of humanities. Ithaca College’s own Integrative Core Curriculum was Rochon’s attempt, among a variety of lofty goals, to reconcile these fields of learning.

Chris Biehn, vice president of college relations and advancement, said the college’s core curriculum would ideally equip students with both entrepreneurial and critical thinking, capitalizing on an interdependence between the five schools.

However, this proved to be a failed initiative. But the college’s eclectic arrangement of departments continues to serve as a strength for the college’s potential, as President Shirley Collado pointed to in her first address to the campus community in February of 2017.

Recckio realized his commitment to the Ithaca community after he spent the summer between his sophomore and junior year in an internship with Do Something in New York City. New York City is great, he said, but unlike Ithaca, it has no shortage of talented workers and entrepreneurs to meet the demands of its large economy.

Recckio believes that Ithaca has a unique problem. The economy grew steadily in the years since the 2008 financial crisis with more jobs created every year but the town struggles to retain a talented, long term workforce accounting for its stagnating growth in companies dependent on long-term careers like Cayuga Medical Center and the Tompkins Trust Company.

“I want Ithaca to be the best small town in America,” Recckio said, quoting Mayor Svante Myrick’s pledge in… “I want to contribute to that and inspire other people to contribute to that as well.”

In addition, Tompkins County sees a concerning depletion in its economy after the work hours. Roughly 25 percent of the county’s work force, 15,101 people, commute to work from another county, according to a 2016 study by the Danter Company. The workers’ property taxes instead go their respective county’s.

This is a result of affluent students pricing out local Ithacans, said Phyllisa DeSarno, the city’s director of economic development.

Somehow, Recckio and the chamber must help local business recruit and retain long-term, talented employees and incentivize them to live and spend locally.

The greatest personnel resource comes every May, when roughly 30,000 young people from the area’s three institutions of higher learning enter the workforce. It’s just a matter of incentivizing them to live and work locally after graduation.

Recckio said this is going to take a dynamic branding campaign for the City of Ithaca to popularize itself as an ideal place to live and work among college graduates. This long term project will include the creation of a social network for local employers and employees to form an online community and establish public profiles.

“I want Ithaca to be the best small town in America,” Recckio said, quoting Mayor Svante Myrick’s pledge in… “I want to contribute to that and inspire other people to contribute to that as well.”