It is with sadness that the College shares news of the death of James Grant, who served as Vice President for Administration & Finance for nearly two decades and was also the College’s first African American vice president. Grant died on June 3 at the age of 88.
Grant was the longest-serving leader of the Division of Administration & Finance in the College’s history, holding the position for nearly two decades from 1979-1997, directing major improvements in campus management and finances, and working within three presidential administrations.
He was a key figure on campus in years when the College raised admission standards and became one of the most selective in SUNY, while increasing enrollment, transforming the campus landscape and preserving institutional commitments to diversity.
“Jim Grant had a remarkable capacity to manage a wide range of daily responsibilities around campus, while also taking a long view far into the future,” said former SUNY New Paltz President Alice Chandler, in whose administration Grant served for the majority of his time at the College. “The way in which he interacted with people was friendly, warm and open, yet always with a sense that he knew he was representing the institution. He was a special person and left a legacy for the College that we should very much appreciate.”
Grant oversaw a number of major initiatives that helped shape SUNY New Paltz into what we know today: working to initiate the processes that brought Resnick Engineering Hall, College Terrace and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art to campus; overseeing renovations of spaces including Studley Theatre, Coykendall Science Building and Parker Theatre; managing repairs after an environmental accident damaged campus buildings in 1991; and coordinating a public/private effort to purchase Hopfer House, which now stands as home to the Office of Undergraduate Admission.
He also helped the College navigate a significant transition in how residence halls are financed, leading to the current model wherein halls are self-sufficient and paid by revenues raised.
“Jim lit up a room when he walked in and his personality was warm and confidently resolute,” said former Vice President for Enrollment Management David Eaton. “He gave us the masterful leadership we needed through our collective professional experience at New Paltz.”
Apart from his work for the College, Grant was a skilled photographer and avid traveler who spanned the globe following his retirement. He visited China, Ghana, Madagascar, Brussels, Kenya, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, The Netherlands, Germany, France, England, Panama, Israel, Kuwait and Cuba, among other nations, and never traveled without a camera.
He founded the Southeast Queens Camera Club, was a former president of the Freeport Camera Club and was a 2015 inductee into the Photographic Federation of Long Island Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife, Maggie; children Christopher, Kevin and Karen; grandchildren Brandon, Harrison, Aisha and Amina; and a great-grand-daughter, Avery.