President Christian speaks before Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce

SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian updated members of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce on the state of the College at the Chamber’s April 17 Contact Breakfast.

President Christian was one of a number of campus administrators and faculty to attend the Chamber event and meet with more than 100 representatives of businesses, schools, governing bodies and philanthropic organizations in Dutchess County.

“The Hudson River may separate us, but SUNY New Paltz maintains a number of enduring ties with Dutchess County and its residents,” President Christian said.

Selected passages from President Christian’s presentation to the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce excerpted below.

On partnerships and contributions in Dutchess County: “We enrolled nearly 700 undergraduate students from Dutchess County this past year, more than 500 of whom came from Dutchess Community College, our highest transfer source in the region. About 175 of our graduate students are Dutchess County residents. Along with graduate students from Orange and Ulster counties, they represent about 60 percent of our total graduate enrollment. About 200 of our employees are county residents, and we maintain connections with more than 5,000 working-age alumni in Dutchess County.

“An important way that universities connect regionally is through technology. Our Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center is home to our 3D printing initiative, where additive manufacturing brings art, engineering, design and business together. We’ve now worked with and supported nearly 400 different businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs. In Dutchess these include Health Quest, Walkway Over the Hudson, Hibbs Architects and Spectra Vista, among others.

“Our Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives conducts research on regional issues to inform public policy discussion and decision making, focused on improving governance and quality of life in the region. You may have read about the Center’s recent study on the City of Poughkeepsie’s taxing system for foreclosed properties, or the Center’s previous work with the City on research and action plans for better food access and security.

“Our total economic impact in Dutchess County approaches $28.5 million. That includes nearly $16 million in direct spending, inclusive of employee salaries. We provide business to major local employers, such as Central Hudson, Royal Carting, Meyer Contracting Corporation, and The Chazen Companies.”

On recent enrollment growth: “The three largest incoming classes in our institution’s history have been the past three years, and that’s with no relaxation of our admissions standards. We are serving increasing numbers of students from the Hudson Valley as people become more and more aware of the high-quality educational opportunities available so close to home.”

On students’ degree completion outcomes: “Our graduation rates are far above state and national averages. Indeed, we graduate students in four years at the same rate as the national average six-year graduation rate. National averages show huge gaps in graduation rates by racial background and economic status, but at New Paltz, these gaps are small for underrepresented minority students, low-income and first-generation students, and students in our Educational Opportunity Program.”

On SUNY New Paltz and social mobility: “A big issue in U.S. higher education is how well colleges and universities foster upward socioeconomic mobility and provide affordable education to disadvantaged families. In a recent analysis that produced an index of such social mobility, New Paltz was ranked in the top 5% of nearly 1,400 colleges, reflecting our success in fulfilling our mission as a public university.”

On the process of changing campus building names: “From the outset, I believed that the New Paltz community could be a role model for civil discourse on a contentious issue. I now know that this process has served the campus community well and raised awareness of the ongoing economic and racial legacies of slavery in our society. I’m very proud of our students, employees and alumni who engaged in this dialogue, and our community and external partners who participated and taught us much along the way.”

Read more about SUNY New Paltz’s regional economic impact online, and visit the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce for news and info about upcoming events.