President’s May 2023 Report to the Academic and Professional Faculty

Dear Colleagues:

Our campus community is fast approaching the end of another academic cycle, with May Commencement only a few weeks away. In three weeks, I will also have the opportunity to celebrate your many campus-wide contributions at the Annual All-Faculty and Staff Appreciation Picnic and BBQ on May 23, 2023. It’s hard to believe that Donovan and I met many of you a year ago already at the BBQ and we look forward to spending time with you again during this well-deserved employee-centered event. Through the inaugural events and the listening tours both internally and externally, and with the assistance of my Transition Ambassadors, I’ve learned a lot about this campus, its people, its friends and partners, its strengths, and its challenges.

These next few weeks are marked by many other events where we celebrate our faculty, staff and student accomplishments – the culmination of your hard work, creativity and perseverance. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you.

Here are a few end-of-year news items to share.

Inauguration Thank You. To the many faculty, staff and students who participated in the planning and attended inaugural events, April 19-21, I share my deepest gratitude.

I believe the inauguration accomplished all three of its stated goals:  1) Honor and respect the institution and its traditions, 2) Provide a platform for the new president to share a vision for New Paltz as it has developed during the first year, and 3) Solidify excitement/enthusiasm for a new chapter in the life of the University among internal/external stakeholders.

Annual Scholarship Reception. Nearly 200 guests attended the reception, including 63 scholarship recipients representing 53 different funds. The evening included featured speakers Dr. Patricia Sullivan, Honors Program director and professor in the Department of Digital Media and Journalism, and alumnus Austin Jefferson ’23, recipient of the Legislative Gazette Knight Foundation scholarship. This academic year, the Foundation awarded over $883,000 in scholarships to 412 students from 163 distinct scholarship funds—an average of more than $2,100 per student.

Athletics’ Hawks Giving Week 2023 ran from April 23-30. An early estimate shows that the teams collectively raised over $39,000.

Women’s Leadership Summit. This year’s event, held on March 29, hosted 47 women alumnae and leaders, over 100 students, and keynote speaker Lynne Oldham ’86, chief people officer, Stash Financial Technology Company, whose talk titled “Applying Growth Mindset to Your Own Career and Leadership” drew an overflow crowd. Feedback on the new small-group, career-centered format was positive, and many new relationships were formed.

Enrollment Management. Our graduate admission deposits are tracking higher than the previous two years, up 25% as compared to last year.  We now have 220 deposits with more than 70% of the new students registered for fall 2023. Our first-year numbers are in line with the same number of deposits we had last year.  We are hoping that this number will grow in the coming days to reach our target of 1,375.  Transfer numbers are still down compared to last year by about 8%.  We are still accepting transfer applications and will likely continue to accept students into the summer.

New Paltz hosted the Annual SUNY College Fair on April 27.  We welcomed 45 SUNY campuses along with high schoolers and families from around the region. Although the focus of the fair was not just New Paltz, our information table generated a lot of student interest only comparable to the four University Centers, Buffalo, Stony Brook, Binghamton and Albany.  It is interesting to consider that these are our most consistent competitors for student applicants in the SUNY system.

Our new onboarding program has taken off.  Please familiarize yourself with the public website site, Take Flight as well as the information in > Advising Menu > Onboarding Information.  The first transfer session is a pilot early session, May 11. The remaining scheduled sessions will take place in June and July.

The transfer orientation department advisor sessions concluded last week. A recording of the session was emailed to all listed orientation advisors. It will also be posted in> Advising Menu > Onboarding Information.

Commencement. I encourage faculty and staff participation in our Commencement Ceremonies, which 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.

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.

We are excited to announce our Commencement speakers for the Saturday and Sunday ceremonies but are finalizing details of those announcements with our selected speakers. Watch for the announcement of our speakers soon.

Faculty Grand Marshals will be Cyrus Mulready (English) on Friday, Hamilton Stapell (History) on Saturday, and Anca Rădulescu (Mathematics) on Sunday.

Annual All-Faculty and Staff Appreciation Picnic and BBQ. Please join us on Tuesday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Parker Quad (Rain Location: Athletic & Wellness Center) where we will also present Classified Staff Presidential Recognition Awards followed by the Annual Softball Game at the Mary Gray Deane Field on campus.

Wishing everyone an enjoyable remainder of the academic year and a restful and rejuvenating summer.

Darrell P. Wheeler