College Council, Faculty Senate endorse effort to apply for “university” designation

The SUNY New Paltz College Council endorsed a proposal at their Sept. 12, 2022, meeting for New Paltz to pursue “university” designation from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents.

NYS Regents voted in January 2022 to redefine the “university” designation. Under the new definition, SUNY New Paltz, which to date has been classified by the state as a “college,” qualifies for redesignation as a “university.”

The Faculty Senate approved a resolution that New Paltz should pursue the “university” designation at their Sept. 9 meeting. The effort will also require SUNY Board of Trustees approval before moving forward; they may address the measure this fall.

President Darrell Wheeler identified this as an early tactical priority at his Welcome Address to the campus community on Aug. 26.

“It doesn’t change anything about the demands for us for research. It’s not moving us to be a research center. It’s just accepting that we now meet the new bar of recognition, which actually is a plus for us because it says you’ve done such great work in advancing your mission that you can have this designation,” he said at he College Council meeting.

Seeking this new designation requires no change to the institution’s mission, teaching loads, research obligations or other criteria. New Paltz is a regional public comprehensive institution and will remain so.

There will be no change to the primary name of the institution, which would still be “SUNY New Paltz” after adopting the “university” designation. No campus signage would need to be updated or replaced.

Many other SUNY comprehensive colleges also qualify for “university” designation under the new standards and are expected to join New Paltz in applying.

New York’s new definition of a “university” is as follows:

“University means a higher educational institution offering a range of registered undergraduate and graduate curricula in the liberal arts and sciences, including graduate programs registered in at least three of the following discipline areas: agriculture, biological sciences, business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professions, humanities, physical sciences and social sciences.”

The full recording of the Sept. 12 College Council meeting is available below.