SUNY New Paltz President Darrell P. Wheeler reflected on his first year in office and outlined goals and priorities for the year ahead in his State of the University Address on Friday, Aug. 25.
“Today I have a sense of familiarity that was not available to me this time last year,” President Wheeler said. “Now, having experienced a full year in the company of outstanding colleagues, students, and community collaborators, I understand in a new way the transformative power and potential of this place we have in common. I am very pleased to say that Donovan and I have both felt welcomed and enlivened in our year as Hawks.”
He opened the address with words of gratitude directed to the faculty, College Council, Foundation Board, professional and classified staff, deans and administrators, alumni and others who contribute to the health of the University and who have supported him during his tenure to date.
After discussion of some significant achievements from the past year – including New Paltz’s attainment of University status, the School of Business’s new designation as the Mid-Hudson Region Innovation Hot Spot, the receipt of the largest ($6.37) philanthropic gift in institutional history, the growth of our institutional endowment to more than $35 million, and the successful completion of President Wheeler’s own campus-wide listening tour – he went on to outline key goals, priorities and challenges facing the institution in the year ahead.
“Even with these exciting accomplishments, the context of higher education remains at an inflection point, with growing demands for accountability, clarity on its relevance, ability to confront current issues of social, racial, religious discords, demographic shifts, and challenging financial circumstances,” President Wheeler said. “SUNY New Paltz is certainly not immune to the full impact of these forces.”
He noted enrollment and budgetary challenges, as well as the national “great resignation” and an increasingly competitive market for talented and passionate faculty and staff, as examples of the kinds of difficulties that the community will need to work together to overcome.
As one important piece of that effort, President Wheeler announced that he will be initiating a strategic planning process this fall, with an ambitious goal to complete the new plan by May/June 2024.
“I go to the core of our institutional mission: to provide an excellent education to our students that prepares them for lifelong learning and success; and being a clear value to the citizens of New York and beyond,” he said. “These two pillars must be the backbone that guides our decisions on curriculum, services, finances and critical infrastructure.”
President Wheeler’s 2023 State of the University Address touched on many more topics than those outlined here; the full video recording is available here, and a full text script is available here, for those interested in the full presentation.