175 Years: 1828-2003
State University of New York at New Paltz home
photo of New Paltz Normal's 1902 football team - The Red Stockings
photo of the New Paltz Academy
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photo of the Old Main Building


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Abbreviated History

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, offering Greek and Latin in addition to the three R's of the common school curriculum. Five 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, located on Huguenot Street, in a white frame building overlooking the Wallkill River.

After a major fire in 1884, the Academy was rebuilt and became a State Normal school in 1885, offering two- and three-year courses to prepare graduates to teach in the New York public school system, as well as a four-year academic course for those not interested in the teacher-training curriculum. 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 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 nine State normal schools were promoted to college status and the institution's name was changed to State Teachers College at New Paltz, with its first graduating class consisting of 112 students.

New Paltz became one of the founding units of the State University of New York in March 1948, 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. A two-year general education program was instituted by the mid-1950s, and 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.

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.

The college's name has changed seven times in its 175-year history, but throughout the decades, and whatever its name, the college has remained committed to "inspire our students to a love of learning, a meaningful engagement with the life of the mind, and an involvement in public service." (Mission Statement , 1997)

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