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President Wheeler’s April 2024 Report to Faculty

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to spring and our push toward the end of the academic year.  While this will be a busy period with many activities and deadlines, it is also a time to take stock of the many accomplishments SUNY New Paltz faculty, staff and students are making on campus and beyond.

Enrollment Management
We are ready for Accepted Student Open House on Saturday, April 6, the first of two major enrollment yield events for New Paltz. We will see a diverse group of students who may be first-year or transfer students from all majors with a mix of already deposited and those still making a decision. Every interaction makes an impact. Whether it is a detailed discussion on a major, a quick response to how to find something on our website, a promise to follow up after the event or asking someone if they need help finding something, your interaction will leave an impression and we want it to be a positive one. Departments have been receiving regular communication from Enrollment Management about event planning. The schedule will be posted in my.newpaltz.edu > Faculty services > Advising Menu > Onboarding Information. Shana Circe, coordinator of events & special projects, has sent helpful communication talking points to our faculty and staff. The numbers for the Open Houses look promising, and we are very grateful to all the faculty, staff, student and alumni participants across all departments and divisions who will help create a warm and welcoming as well as informative environment for our accepted students.

All department chairs and participants were sent lists of accepted students who signed up for the event. Any communication with the students and/or family prior to the event will help increase yield and help family and students feel welcome and engaged by their department, even before stepping on campus. Lists of attendees will also be sent after the event and we encourage faculty to reach out to those who attended to continue the engagement.

Advancing Completion through Engagement (ACE) program has exceeded our enrollment expectations for spring 2024. ACE is funded through a SUNY transformational funds award. We recently received additional funding from Robin Hood, a donor secured by SUNY System Administration, which will allow us to enroll additional students from NYC in fall 2024. I want to thank Vanessa Netzley for her excellent work to meet the expectations of this SUNY grant. Vanessa has been promoted to the role of ACE director. She will work directly with SUNY System Administration and oversee the New Paltz ACE program.

The Office of Veterans & Military Services (OVMS) will celebrate its 10-year anniversary on Friday, May 3. The Office assists our military-affiliated students in receiving their education benefits, facilitates their transition into our university, and provides support for their ongoing academic success. OVMS serves the U.S. Military Service members, veterans, their spouses, their children, and the U.S. Army ROTC Cadets. OVMS started in 2014 with a population of 75 students. Now more than 350 students enjoy this support and 860 undergraduate and graduate military-affiliated students have graduated. OVMS now employs an average of 10 students each semester through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Work-Study Program, has a full-time director, assistant director and graduate assistants. The Office hosts multiple events each year, advise students, certify veteran aid, and have raised more than $100,000 in scholarship funding. The Office has also received grant funding for several projects over the years. For 8 out of 10 years, SUNY New Paltz has been designated as a Military Friendly School. USNews & World Report has ranked New Paltz at No. 8 for “Best Colleges for Veterans” in their 2024 release. Please join me in congratulating Jason Gilliland, director of OVMS, for these tremendous accomplishments. I also wish to thank Donnie Martin, who recently joined the team as assistant director, for his outstanding efforts in supporting this wonderful program.

You have likely heard by now that the state budget process has been extended through April 4. As we await the conclusion of that process and the support it provides for SUNY, please note that SUNY is not directly impacted by a budget delay until later in the summer (June/July period), however, we will continue to monitor the progress made in the coming weeks and inform campus of any issues that may arise. April activity for the campus budget process includes an initial ranking of new requests for funding received from all divisions, preparation of the fiscal year 2024-2025 tuition target and preparation of initial budget templates for all departments. Campus account managers should continue reviewing past expenditures to see where efficiencies and cost reductions can be achieved to prepare for submission of the 2024-2025 budget templates in May/June.

Development & Alumni Relations
The SUNY New Paltz Foundation has elected Sean Foote ’96 (Business) to its Board of Directors. Sean is a Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been serving as a member of the Foundation’s Finance and Investment Committee.

The next Campaign for SUNY New Paltz has been busy planning and fundraising behind the scenes! Vice President Erica Marks and I have been actively meeting with and recruiting co-chairs and honorary chairs. We look forward to sharing the campaign name along with the roster of generous and active volunteers with you in the coming months.

Alumni Relations welcomed 40 Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia-area alumni and guests to a gathering on March 25, hosted by Toyota Motors North American in Washington, DC, and alumnus Director of Government Affairs Robert Chiappetta ’91. This annual gathering is a special one because it centers around the student field trip organized by Professor Nancy Kassop (Political Science & International Relations) and we were delighted to provide 19 students with high-level networking opportunities at this event. Provost William McClure, Dean of Fine & Performing Arts Jeni Mokren, and Employer Relations Specialist Beth King joined the gathering along with Development & Alumni Relations staff members. In addition to Washington, DC, Development staff hosted a number of events with alumni, donors, and students in Atlanta, Richmond, Virginia, and Houston, Texas.

The Development staff piloted its first Orange & Blue Day of Giving, held on March 28, with a goal of raising $5,000 for the Fund for New Paltz (FFNP). Thanks to numerous donations ranging from $25 to $500 we raised nearly $7,000 in a single day! The FFNP supports programs for students and the community including the Distinguished Speaker Series, Women’s Leadership Summit, Hudson Valley Future Summit, alumni events nation-wide, the Alumni Magazine, and many other activities. Thank you to all who participated!

On Sunday, April 14, Alumni Relations hosts an Alumni Afternoon at the Theatre, a gathering of alumni and friends for a reception followed by the student production of the hit musical “Urinetown.” Tickets are still available and may be reserved through the link above or by contacting alumni@newpaltz.edu.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Lecture Center 100 for our spring Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Sean M. Decatur, president of the American Museum of Natural History. His topic “Past is More than Prologue: Finding the Future of Science in Natural History Museums,” will help us understand the past through natural history collections. Information and registration at newpaltz.edu/speakerseries. A $10 optional donation helps support our students through the Fund for New Paltz.

Commencement is only a few weeks away, May 17-19! Students enjoy seeing their professors cheer them on. Please plan to register and be part of the SUNY New Paltz spirit and celebration. Watch your email for reminders.

Please watch for an announcement about this year’s 40 Under Forty alumni awardees and consider attending the celebration in their honor on Saturday, June 8.

If you are a golfer or just wish to support SUNY New Paltz students through our signature fundraiser, please consider becoming involved in our 25th Annual SUNY New Paltz Golf Tournament, on Monday, June 10, at The Powelton Club in Newburgh. Registration and information can be found at newpaltz.edu/golf.

Finally, save the date, our second campus-wide reimagined Convocation – a campus community celebration welcoming our new students – is Wednesday, August 28. Details are forthcoming.

Honors Program 25th Anniversary
I had the pleasure on March 16 of welcoming a group of distinguished Honors Program alumni, current Honors students and current and retired faculty and staff to the 25th Anniversary celebration of this highly successful campus program. True to the mission of the Honors Program, the theme of the day-long event was “Celebrating Connections, Intellectual Curiosity & Civic Engagement,” and included an array of interactive discussions and learning activities proposed by Honors faculty, students and alumni. Director Pat Sullivan and Administrative Assistant Alicia Ivan, with support from the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, organized the day. Thank you to Professor Sullivan for her inspired leadership of this high-impact learning experience for our students and to those faculty and staff who teach, advise and support the program.

Student Affairs
As we move closer to the summer, the Center for Student Engagement is preparing for New Student Orientation programs for both transfer and first-year students. The dates are as follows and a training session will be offered soon to all campus partners to review each of the programs.

  • Transfer Sessions: May 9, June 18, June 21, July 23, July 25, August 15 (virtual), August 19 (if needed)
  • First-Year Sessions: June 26-27, July 2-3, July 8-9, July 11-12, July 16-17, August 20-21 (make-up)

On Thursday, April 4, Athletics, Wellness and Recreation will be launching a fueling station. The new fueling station was funded through the Student Affairs and Campus Auxiliary Services with the Hawks working alongside campus food provider Sodexo, and Campus Registered Dietitian Kelly Pearson, RD, CDN to help stock food items for the new facility. The goal of the new fueling station is to help student-athletes who are in need of a quick re-fuel throughout the day, as they balance their time between class, practice, and other day-to-day tasks in their efforts to be their best on and off their playing arena. The Athletics, Wellness & Recreation Department will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the new facility on April 4 at 5:30 p.m. The Department will then hold an Academic Honors ceremony for High Achieving Hawks, both 4.0 GPA student-athletes and Chi Alpha Sigma Inductees in the Hawk Center at 6:30 p.m.

I’ll be happy to take your questions about any of these items or any other topics at the Faculty Senate Meeting on Wednesday, April 3. See you there.

Darrell P. Wheeler