TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. – Rod Howe has led The History Center in Tompkins County toward new community partnerships and a grand new location on the Ithaca Commons during more than four years at the organization, and now he is ready to pass the torch. Howe announced Thursday that he will step down from his position as executive director this summer.

“I’m very proud of what’s happened over the past four-plus years, and it seems like a good time to step down,” Howe said. “The History Center will be settled in a new place, so we’re ready for a new person to come on board and take full advantage of the new location and the partnerships that are possible in the building.”

Howe spearheaded the creation of the Tompkins Center for History and Culture at 110 N. Tioga St., where 12 organizations are currently settling into new spaces. At the new center, The History Center will be co-located with groups including the Wharton Studio Museum, Community Arts Partnership, and the Dorothy Cotton Institute, along with a Tompkins Chamber visitors center. The arrangement is designed to foster new collaborations while inviting locals and tourists to explore the area’s culture.

Rod Howe thanks volunteers during the “Moving History Forward” event in October 2018. (Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice)
Rod Howe thanks volunteers during the “Moving History Forward” event in October 2018. (Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice)

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A media release announcing Howe’s resignation credited him with bringing the project to fruition. “This unique co-localization of 12 local organizations in a repurposed historic building is the result of several years of Rod’s major efforts to bring this vision to reality, building on the shoulders of others that helped to set the stage,” the statement reads.

Howe came to The History Center in 2015 after leaving the Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Community and Regional Development Institute. He emphasized the importance of place, land, architecture, culture and enterprise while launching new programming for local residents and visitors. He worked with Historic Ithaca and the county’s tourism program to support heritage tourism.

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Howe currently serves as a member of the Town Board in Ithaca and is running unopposed to become town supervisor. He said stepping back from The History Center will allow a moment to catch his breath before diving into the new challenge, if he is elected.

The History Center hopes to have a new director on board by August, but Howe said he will continue working part-time through the end of the year to ease the transition and help with special projects.

Reflecting on his tenure, he expressed gratitude to all the community members who have supported The History Center and the new Tompkins Center for History and Culture. “I’m in awe of the support. I’m just so grateful for so many folks who have helped with the transition,” he said.

Featured image: Rod Howe (provided photo)

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.