College mourns the death of John Palencsar, adjunct lecturer of history

We are saddened to share the news of the death of John Palencsar, who had served as an adjunct lecturer of history since 2004, on Jan. 25, 2021.

John was a highly respected teacher with a reputation for helping spark students’ interest in topics related to American history.

“John was a rock star in the classroom,” said Hamilton M. Stapell, chair of the Department of History. “He had a bright shining energy and a deep desire to share his deep knowledge of American history and the world. I never met a student who didn’t absolutely love being in one John’s classes.”

He held a master’s degree in history from Western Connecticut State University and worked for about three decades in financial planning and administration prior to his career as a history instructor.

John had just begun teaching the Department of History’s “Business and Society” course for the spring 2021 semester. The department and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences are developing a plan for sustaining the course and will keep enrolled students updated throughout that process.

Update: A newly published obituary notes that John’s family will hold visitation hours tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 28, from 4 – 6:30 p.m., at Edward F. Carter Funeral Home, 41 Grand Street, Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Guests are asked to please adhere to all Department of Health COVID-19 guidelines.

The online obituary also invites friends and colleagues to share memories of John. A number of SUNY New Paltz students, faculty and alumni have already done so; these moving tributes paint a picture of “Professor P.” as a passionate and inspiring educator, a great storyteller, and a caring and honest friend.

If you are a student who needs assistance in processing this sad loss, the Counseling Center is available at (845) 257-2920. Employees are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program at (845) 257-2886.