SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian believes that student research participation is one of several high-impact educational practices known to produce especially deep and meaningful learning. This principle led him and his spouse, Sandra K. Christian, to create an endowment to support student research.
“Our institution prides itself on the extraordinary work of our students with the mentorship of our faculty,” said President Christian. “Undergraduate research helps students experience the joy of discovery and creation, explore career directions and present work in public forums. Such experiences deepen understanding of the substance and methodology of a discipline, and provide opportunities to develop important intellectual capabilities.”
The President Donald P. Christian and Sandra K. Christian Research Scholarship Endowment Fund, now valued at more than $100,000, was established in 2016 and has since provided annual awards for faculty-mentored student research, scholarship and creative work through the Undergraduate Research Scholarship and Creative Activities program or through The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives.
Sandra Christian said, “For a time, I had thought that aside from giving to charities, our primary financial legacy should be to our own children and future grandchildren. However, as I have met New Paltz students over the years, I have become more aware of the privileges our son and daughter, now adults, have had to gain a great education, and the financial and other barriers that many of these talented students must overcome.”
She continued that this realization inspired her commitment to helping students of this generation, and future generations. “Besides the deep satisfaction of seeing students benefit from our support, I also receive the gift of inspiration and hope for how these future citizens will make the world a better place,” she said.
The endowment recently supported the work of scholarship recipient Kieran Cavanagh ’20 (Mathematics) who partnered with Assistant Professor Rachmadian Wulandana in the Division of Engineering Programs. Their research focused on vortex shedding – which can cause structural damage – using two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics.
“Receiving this scholarship has made me realize that activities related to the pursuit of knowledge – like teaching, learning and research – are my true passions,” said Cavanagh. “I want to thank the Christians for their support, it means a lot when hard work is recognized. Words cannot express how grateful I am.”
Philanthropic support ensures that SUNY New Paltz recruits students from a broad range of socio-economic communities, providing first-generation college opportunities. Increasing support for scholarships, like President’s and Mrs. Christian’s endowment, is one of the three strategic priorities outlined in the College’s first ever comprehensive campaign Soaring Higher—The Campaign for SUNY New Paltz.
“I believe we each have a responsibility to support our students as we prepare them to live in, and contribute to, the world around them, said President Christian. “Supporting student research is an investment in our faculty, students and our future.”