Provost Lyman’s March 2021 Report to Faculty

The following report was shared with faculty and staff by email on March 2.

Dear Academic and Professional Faculty Colleagues:

Thank you to the faculty for your thoughtfulness in facilitating a respite for students on Feb. 24, our first Mind, Body, Spirit (MBS) Day. MBS days (three, not five as originally announced) were designed to offer some relief, however modest, from daily pandemic-related pressures, while avoiding the heightened risk of COVID-19 spread that would be expected under a traditional spring break. Students surely appreciated this one-day away from class meetings of any modality and your kind front-loading of test and assignment due dates, that is, scheduling these ahead of and not immediately after MBS day. Doing so allowed students a change of pace and greater freedom to take part in structured student activity programming offered or, in some cases, in as little activity as possible on MBS day.

In this report, I will provide announcements and updates, address student, staff, and faculty support, and call attention to faculty achievements, awards and honors, and other recognitions.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education Virtual Review Visit – March 24-26

The Middle States Review Team for reaffirmation of institutional accreditation, when it engages with the campus community during the virtual multi-day review visit scheduled in the coming weeks, will be seeking to know more about what it will already have learned from our self-study. The team will want to hear from us first-hand to understand more fully our strengths and to illuminate more clearly areas for improvement and innovation. Among our many strengths, ones that are likely to arouse some of the greatest curiosity have to do with indicators of student success.

As reported in our Middle States Self-study, our graduation rates surpass by substantial margins state and national averages for all cohorts enrolled.  Because such outcomes so often elude strong, similarly situated regional comprehensive institutions, visiting team members will want to understand more deeply how we engage, challenge, and support our students in ways that help account for such noteworthy metrics.

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article found here is intriguingly entitled “Regional Public Universities Don’t Need Rescuing.” It suggests that instead of a rescue, institutions in our mission class need recognition, respect, and renewed support for the outstanding outcomes we achieve.  Another noteworthy outcome here at New Paltz is our students’ success after graduation. As posted here, “SUNY New Paltz was ranked No. 49 out of 1,449 U.S. colleges and universities in the 2020 Social Mobility Index, which evaluates schools’ ability to provide economically disadvantaged students with opportunities to succeed. The No. 49 ranking puts New Paltz in the top 3% nationwide.” Middle States team members will want to know more about how your work supports this exceptional outcome.

As the visit approaches, I invite all of our faculty and staff to reflect on the roles you continue to play in engaging, challenging, as well as supporting our students and their achievement and long-term success. Be prepared to share information and insights with Middle States visit team members who will be seeking deeper understanding of how we achieve the institutional success that is manifested most meaningfully in student success. Thank you in advance for your participation in either open meetings or meetings scheduled with particular campus constituents, teams or committees.

Initiatives in Support of Students, Faculty, and Staff

Support for All
As we continue teaching, learning, and working predominantly remotely, enhanced support has arrived in the form of a redesigned one-stop-shop, that is, a Remote Resources website found here. The website features new menus organized by group:  Faculty, Staff, and Students, under which information can be filtered by categories, such as the following focused on faculty support: Accessibility, Content Development, Course Participation, Faculty Development, Health and Wellness, Training, and Web-Conferencing.

Support for Students
Gentle Reminders to Students – COVID-19 Non-compliance and Consequences

In an effort to control COVID-19 spread, SUNY has mandated much stricter screening and testing requirements. This semester, continued non-compliance will trigger tough consequences for students.

With this in mind, please consider gently reminding students attending in-person of the consequences for not complying with screening and testing protocols, as stated here:

  • If students are on campus and have not done their daily screening for three consecutive days, their card access will be disabled and they will be unable to enter most campus buildings or attend in-person classes until they remedy the situation.
  • For students, failure to test during a week in which they are on campus will result in disciplinary action including disciplinary probation and eventually suspension from on-campus presence, including in-person instruction and denial of campus residency.

Expanded S/U Grading Option with Extended Spring Timeline
To help ensure that no student remains unaware, kindly remind your advisees that the Expanded S/U Grading option continues this semester as in the fall. The deadline for choosing  this option is the last day of classes, April 29.  Further information can be found here, including a matrix summarizing how the expanded S/U option differs from the regular S/U option.

Support for Faculty
Spring 2021 Grade Submission Deadline Extended
I am happy to report that following a request from the early career faculty Futures Committee, which was subsequently shared with us by the Faculty Executive Committee, the spring 2021 grade submission deadline has been extended by four days to May 18 at 2 p.m. We hope that this measure of relief allows faculty additional flexibility to extend, as you deem appropriate, related consideration to our students.

Department Chairs – SUNY Sponsored Program
Please note an upcoming SUNY opportunity for department chairs that is part of the SAIL Institute program. You can access the Spring 2021 series as well as register for the April 15 event, “Department Chair Reflections-Leaders Learning Live,” by going here.

Discretionary Salary Increases

In addition to the earlier calls for application for Discretionary Salary Increases, information regarding this year’s streamlined and online-based submission process for full- and part-time faculty can be found here. As a reminder, thanks to a provision already in existence under the Structures and Procedures guidelines for RTP and DSI, academic departments can further streamline the process if they vote to have applications go directly from applicants to department chairs, and notify the Central Committee on Salary Increase of this departmental decision.

Recent Faculty and Staff Awards, Honors, Publications/Creative Work, and Other Recognitions

News of faculty accomplishments often appear in the Daily Digest. You will also find recent recognitions of faculty and staff accomplishments at the following link:

Closing and Gratitude to New Paltz’s Own Middle States Leadership Team

As always, my deep appreciation goes out to the dedicated faculty of New Paltz for your demonstration of unwavering commitment to the success of our students.  Despite having to bear many burdens brought on and complicated by the pandemic, faculty continue to prioritize the academic and personal growth of students.

In this month’s report, before closing, I want to recognize Laurel Garrick Duhaney and Ken Goldstein for their dedicated and stellar leadership of the Middle States Self-study Steering Committee and for their oversight of preparations for the March 24-26 visit of the evaluation team whom we will soon be welcoming virtually. Consultation during the preparation of the self-study has been characterized by broad and inclusive engagement of campus constituents. The Steering Committee persevered unflaggingly following the onset of the pandemic through the completion of the final draft of the Self-study, which was transmitted to Middle States several weeks ago.

Middle States Steering Committee:
Anne Balant, Associate Professor, Communication Disorders
Dante Cantu, Executive Director, Center for Student Success
Robin Cohen-LaValle, Asst. VP & Dean of Students
Anne Deutsch, Associate Professor & Instructional Program Coordinator, Sojourner Truth Library
Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs, (Co-Chair)
Deb Gould, Assistant Provost, Academic Affairs
Ken Goldstein, Professor & Chair of Theatre Arts, (Co-Chair)
Isidoro Janeiro, Associate Professor & Chair, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures
Shuguang Liu, Associate Dean School of Business
Heather Morrison, Associate Professor, History
Simin Mozayeni, Associate Professor, Economics
Jennifer Waldo, Associate Professor & Chair of Biology
Julie Walsh, Assistant VP Finance-Budget
Lucy Walker, Assistant VP, Institutional Research
Jason Wrench, Professor, Communication

Middle States Editorial Committee:
Anne Balant
Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney
Ken Goldstein
Valerie McAllister
Thomas Olsen, Editor-in-chief
Wendy Vierow
Lucy Walker

Document Design:
Laura Kniffen

We owe them, and all others who supported their efforts in conducting the Middle States Self-study, a singular debt of gratitude and appreciation for invaluable contributions to this process of institutional self-examination spanning the last two years. I have listed them all by name above and hope that you will take a moment to express appreciation to them for the critically important work they have led. Now, as the visit approaches, we have our parts to play in this culminating phase, making ourselves available for the open and designated meetings which constitute the visit schedule, regarding which you will be receiving further updates in the coming days.

With best regards,


Barbara Lyman
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs