President addresses New Paltz Chamber of Commerce at campus event

20150909-2_Chamber of Commerce Meeting_0092At a Sept. 9 luncheon with the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, President Donald P. Christian defined the core mission of SUNY New Paltz as “educating students for career, life and citizenship” in an address before administrative staff, academic deans and the gathered representatives of the local business community.

“We’ve been thriving in a challenging external environment that includes an uncertain economy that’s affected campus finances, the finances of state and federal government and certainly also the finances of our students and their families,” Christian said. “We manage these conditions by continuing to tie funding decisions to our highest priorities and by keeping a strong focus on students and their learning.”

Christian cited the College’s recent ranking by the U.S. News & World Report as No. 4 overall among public regional universities in the North as evidence that New Paltz is building a strong reputation among its peers in higher education. He attributed this success in part to a sustained commitment to Strategic Plan priorities including building a strong, innovative learning environment, expanding efforts to market the College and strengthening regional engagement.

He cited the fact that, in an era when many comparable colleges and universities are cutting staff, New Paltz has added 45 new full-time faculty positions since 2011.

“While some campuses in the Northeast are really struggling, failing to meet their numbers, adjusting their budgets downward and lowering admission standards to meet enrollment targets, we have not compromised on the academic preparation and caliber of our incoming students, nor on our recruitment of a very diverse class, which we’re very proud of,” Christian said.

Christian then discussed measures taken to better “tell the New Paltz story,” in part through expanded partnerships with local businesses, organizations and community services, like the one forged in recent years with Ulster County Area Transit.

“All of these efforts influence the way that SUNY New Paltz is perceived in the region and beyond, as I know from my conversations with alumni, community leaders, elected officials and higher education colleagues.”

Christian also spoke about recent efforts to engender a healthy and safe campus climate in cooperation with New Paltz community members, such as the renewal of the Tavern Owners Agreement after 15 successful years encouraging lawful consumption of alcohol and appropriate civic customer behavior in the Village of New Paltz, and Christian’s attendance as a higher education representative at a White House Task Force summit discussion on the prevention of incidents of sexual assault and violence on college campuses.

“We have a history here of sound practices and strong commitment that’s been a model for the rest of the SUNY system and, more recently, for statewide policies,” Christian said.

Christian concluded his talk with an overview of the impact SUNY New Paltz exerts on the Hudson Valley economy, which is documented in great detail in the 2014 Economic Impact Statement.

More information about the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce is available online.