175 Years: 1828-2003
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photo of New Paltz Normal's 1902 football team - The Red Stockings
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photo of the Old Main Building


State University of New York at New Paltz
175 Years
April 19, 1828 - April 19, 2003

SUNY New Paltz traces its beginnings to the year 1828, when a group of leading citizens founded the New Paltz Classical School. On April 19, 1828, prominent families in the community made possible the establishment of this school by agreeing to subscribe a definite amount of money over a two-year period to cover the cost of the teacher's salary and to prepare and equip the classroom. The Classical schoolmaster's salary cost about $404 the first year, and four citizens equipped the classroom and bought globes. A Board of Trustees was selected from the list of contributors. Josiah R. Eltinge was chosen chairman, and Reverend William R. Bogardus, secretary. Other members of the Board were Jacob Wurtz, Jacob. J. Hasbrouck, Solomon E. Elting, Cornelius D. Hasbrouck, Jacob S. Schoonmaker, John Bogardus, Peter Eltinge, Daniel A. Deyo, Nathaniel Lefever and Benjamin Van Wagenen.

photo of the Classical School buildingThe trustees adopted the rules for governing the school, and New Paltz Classical School started functioning in the autumn of 1828 on the second floor of the common school, located at 15 N. Front Street. The common school continued to offer the English course covering the three R's, while the classical course added instruction in Greek and Latin. Thomas C. McClaury, a graduate of Union College, was principal. The tuition for classical scholars was $25.00 a year, for English scholars $15.00 a year. Classical students were to have preference in admission, but if there were not sufficient classical students, English students were to be admitted.

AcademyFive years later, with the promise of financial support from the New York State Board of Regents, local citizens gathered funds to expand the school to a full-fledged Academy. It would be located on Huguenot Street, in a white frame building overlooking the Wallkill River.

After 50 years of growth and expansion, the academy burned to the ground in February of 1884. As funds were being gathered to construct a new academy, consideration was given to converting the new building to a state normal school. In 1885 the state accepted the newly raised academy as the New Paltz State Normal School. While the school was now under the auspices of New York State, it rested upon a stipulation by the local board of trustees that an academic department exist for students who did not wish to become teachers. Consequently, this gave the New Paltz Normal School something of an independent and experimental character from its very beginning.

class of 1900By 1889 a new wing was added, effectively doubling the size of the school. Three courses of study were now being offered; the two-year Normal Course, the three-year Normal High School Course, and the four-year Academic Course. The two Normal Courses prepared graduates to teach in the New York public school system, while the Academic Course provided college-level instruction, and was designed for pupils who did not desire the teacher-training curriculum. After 1900 one year of high school was required for entrance to the normal course. By 1906, a high school diploma was required for admission to the two-year teacher training program.

Dear Sarah: The Normal School is burnt all up. Nothing is left but the smell. It started at 12 o'clock last night and is still smoking. Goodbye with lots of love from Cousin Gertrude.In April 1906 a fire destroyed the school for a second time. Local officials again persuaded the state legislature to rebuild the school, this time on a new, ten-acre hillside, one mile from the river. The building, now known as "Old Main," was dedicated in January 1909. In 1921-22 a three-year program for elementary teachers was introduced by the State Education Department; and, in 1938, the Normal School achieved full collegiate standing when all New York normal school curricula were extended to four years by the State Education Department. In 1942 the governor signed a bill promoting the nine State normal schools to college status. The bachelor of education degree was first awarded to the class of 1942, which consisted of 112 students.

In 1942 the Normal School's name was changed to State Teachers College at New Paltz, and in March 1948 it became one of the founding units of the State University of New York. Graduate courses were first offered in 1947, and in 1951 the master of science was awarded to nine students. Art education was introduced in 1952, the first subject specialization for teachers at New Paltz.

aerial photo of Old MainThree years later, the institution's name became the State University of New York College of Education at New Paltz, and by the mid-1950s a two-year general education program was instituted, followed by a required major in teaching or the liberal arts. In 1960 New Paltz and Fredonia were the first SUNY four-year colleges authorized to grant a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts studies. In 1961 the name was changed to State University of New York College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at New Paltz.

Today the State University of New York at New Paltz covers 216 acres, and offers nearly 100 undergraduate degrees, 50 masters degrees, 4 pre-doctoral programs and one joint doctoral program. It includes the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Science & Engineering, the School of Fine & Performing Arts, the School of Education, and The Graduate School.

aerial photo of campus

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