President’s May 2023 Full Faculty Meeting Report

Dear Colleagues:

As we draw to the end of this term, I wanted to share some items of interest and offer some thoughts about the 2022-23 academic year and our work ahead.

Inauguration Thank You.  Again, I thank every person and each unit who worked on the planning, development, implementation and delivery of events and activities associated with the inauguration April 19-21.

Chancellor’s Awards. I’m pleased to announce the faculty and staff recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. I have spoken directly with each of them to share this wonderful news. Please join me in congratulating each of these colleagues for their selection as this year’s awardees. We will present the academic and professional awards at the first fall faculty meeting, and the Classified Service Award at the fall Classified Service annual gathering. You can learn more about the accomplishments and contributions of each awardee in an upcoming Digest:

  • Jeremy Coulter, General Mechanic, Facilities Operations, Excellence in Classified Service
  • Corinna Caracci, Director of Residence Life, Student Affairs, Excellence in Professional Service
  • Mary K. Holland, Professor, English, Excellence in Scholarship & Creative Activities
  • Shuguang Liu, Associate Dean, School of Business, Excellence in Professional Service
  • Richard McElrath, Senior Instructional Technologist, Office of Instructional Technology, Excellence in Professional Service
  • Douglas Maynard, Professor, Psychology, Excellence in Teaching.

I also extend congratulations to Professor of Business Kevin Caskey, who has become the 16th SUNY New Paltz faculty member and first from the School of Business to earn the title of SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest rank in the State University system. Caskey was awarded the SUNY Distinguished Service Professorship, which recognizes extraordinary and sustained service, on and off campus, that involves the application of intellectual skills drawing from the faculty member’s scholarly and research interests to issues of public concern.

Commencement.  I am pleased to announce our Saturday and Sunday Commencement Speakers. Our Saturday Commencement Speaker will be the Honorable Kevin R. Bryant, (Political Science) ’93, a Kingston native and accomplished attorney with more than 20 years of experience in seeking justice for clients regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances who is currently a Supreme Court Justice in New York’s Third Judicial Court and former City of Kingston corporation counsel. Bryant’s determination to make a difference in his community has been his personal goal throughout life. During college, he worked at St. Cabrini Home in West Park where he worked with troubled youth. He has served on the boards of the Kingston Boys and Girls Club and the Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley.

On Sunday, our speaker is alumnus and Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl (International Relations) ’95, an internationally recognized leader in the technology, entertainment and culture industries, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate.  He previously served for more than a decade as Chief Business Officer at YouTube. Kyncl met his wife, now a psychotherapist, Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 (Psychology), at SUNY New Paltz and together they have established the Robert Kyncl ’95 and Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 Computer Science & Engineering Scholarship Fund  to create opportunity for traditionally underrepresented students in STEM fields.

Our commencement ceremonies will be held outdoors on Friday, May 19 (Graduate), Saturday, May 20 (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), and Sunday, May 21 (Schools of Business, Education, Fine & Performing Arts, and Science & Engineering) in the Old Main Quad. Student speakers will be Valedictorian Joan F. Quinones (Major: Communication Studies: Organizational Communication; Minor: Business) on Saturday and Salutatorian Alexis T. Smith (Major: Psychology; Minor: Business) on Sunday.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for faculty and staff to participate in our Commencement Ceremonies. Your presence means so much to our graduating students and their families. It is the most celebratory environment for them to meet those who have supported and mentored them to successful completion of their degrees and other achievements.

Thank You Interim Provost Lyman. As you know, Interim Provost Lyman will be retiring effective July 5 after four years of exceptional service to SUNY New Paltz. While the Interim Provost joined the University initially for a one-year role, we are so grateful that she stayed on to provide stability and to lead our academic division through good and challenging times, including the pandemic and a successful institutional reaccreditation process. Thank you, Barbara, for all you have accomplished for our campus and its students, and we wish you well in retirement. Please join us immediately after the full faculty meeting for a 2 p.m. reception honoring Barbara in the Lecture Center Lobby to offer your well wishes ahead of her pending retirement.

Budget Update.  Last week, Governor Hochul released the New York State Enacted Budget, which outlines significant investment in SUNY.

The enacted budget calls for an additional $163M for SUNY in the form of state support to SUNY, with an additional $54M per year for the next two years. There is also $1.6B in capital support that includes digital and facilities funding.  Some of the capital support is earmarked specifically for UAlbany and Stony Brook.

Also included in the budget is $75M in a transformational initiative fund for workforce alignment, student completion and to support efforts to increase enrollment.

The budget outlines other benefits to our students, including increasing TAP benefits to include workforce-focused micro credentials and the expansion of part-time TAP to include SUNY Colleges of Technology, plus increases to minimum wage.

The direct impacts for SUNY New Paltz are yet to be determined.  We may receive some answers in the short term, but likely will not know the full impacts for several months.  We will share details as they become available.

Next Year and Beyond. As we end the 2022-23 academic year, I am beginning to set my sights on next year and beyond.  We have a number of major events that will impact our academic community, and I want to begin laying the foundation for what I see as major opportunities for SUNY New Paltz in the next several years.

Faculty Leadership Development – Investing in our faculty and staff has been a refrain for me throughout this year.  This fall, we have a wonderful opportunity to engage one of our own alums, Stewart Friedman, PhD., to conduct leadership training on Sept. 6, 2023. I am in the process of identifying campus participants, including our deans, department chairs, unit directors across departments, cabinet members and others.  As space for the training will be capped at approximately 100-125, my office will be reaching out in the coming weeks with more details and commitments for participation.

Strategic Planning Preparation – As the logical next step to the conclusion of our last strategic plan, I will work with the Strategic Planning and Assessment Council (SPAC) to review outcomes from that plan and set a course toward developing a new plan for 2024 to 2029-30.  This will include at some level, our entire campus community, so please look for updates on ways you may want to contribute to setting the next strategic goals for our University.

Middle States Reaccreditation – As hard as it may be to imagine, our Middle States Mid-Point Review will occur in 2025, and our next Self Study is due in the 2028-29 academic year.  Now is the time to begin planning and preparation to demonstrate our accomplishments and growth since the 2021 accreditation.

Our 200th Anniversary – SUNY New Paltz will join an elite group of institutions in 2028 as it marks its 200th anniversary.  This milestone will provide the University with another opportunity to showcase its distinction and prominence in higher education and as a vital resource in the Mid-Hudson region and beyond.   While no plans have started at this point, it is not too early to begin work on this important milestone.

Comprehensive Campaign – Our Development Team is hard at work on the next Comprehensive Campaign.  We are presently working to develop the case statement and setting realistic but ambitious goals.  I want to thank Vice President Erica Marks and her team for the great work they are doing in this area.

In closing, the next few years will provide new and enhanced opportunities for SUNY New Paltz to continue its tradition of offering a quality higher educational experience to students and to be a resource to our communities.  There will undoubtedly be challenges to overcome along the way.  If, however, these past 10 months have been any indication of future potential, it is clear to me that the faculty, staff, alumni, students and supporters of SUNY New Paltz will ensure that we meet these challenges and continue to excel.  In this spirit, I wish you a great end of the term and successful summer.

Darrell P. Wheeler