Gala Celebrating New Paltz
announces 2008 honoree
The State University of New York at New Paltz is pleased to announce the Guest of Honor at the sixth Celebrating New Paltz Gala. Distinguished Professor, author, and New York State Constitutional Law scholar Dr. Gerald Benjamin will receive the award at the grand event on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008, at Mohonk Mountain House.
Proceeds from the annual fundraiser provide scholarships for residents of Ulster, Dutchess and Orange counties to attend SUNY New Paltz. The five previous Galas have raised nearly $185,000 in scholarship endowment funds to support local students.
In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. Benjamin is known throughout New York state as an expert on state and local government who has been involved in major reform efforts. As an elected member of the Ulster County Legislature from 1981-1993, he served as both majority leader and chair. He served on the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency that in 2008 proposed wide-reaching reforms in local government.
Dr. Benjamin led the commission that proposed the first charter for Ulster County, N.Y., which was adopted by popular vote in 2006. During the upcoming election, Ulster County will select its first County Executive.
“Dr. Gerald Benjamin's life and career are a perfect illustration of the unity between campus and community that the Gala celebrates,” said Linda C. Delgado-Baker ’84, the Gala Committee Chair. “Jerry is known on campus and throughout the state as a dedicated teacher, an influential scholar and commentator on New York government, a committed public servant and community leader, and a prominent political ambassador of the college.”
Mohonk Mountain House is the site of this lavish event. Mohonk’s award-winning chefs have created a distinctive and extravagant four-course meal especially for the occasion.
Tickets are $175 per person or $325 per couple. A sponsored table of ten is $1,750. A commemorative program, silent auction, dinner and dancing complete the event, which has drawn sold-out attendance in previous years.
The Celebrating New Paltz Gala is open to the public and tickets are available by calling the SUNY New Paltz Development Office at 845-257-3240.
Biography of Professor Gerald Benjamin
Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement
State University of New York at New Paltz
Professor Gerald Benjamin joined the SUNY New Paltz faculty in 1968, becoming a Full Professor in 1981. He was appointed Distinguished Professor of Political Science, SUNY’s highest rank, in 2002, and served for 12 years as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. As dean, he was not only an able administrator, but also added or revitalized numerous academic programs, the most notable of which is the interdisciplinary major in Asian Studies.
Rounding out this exceptional academic career were appointments as a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Tokyo and the Japanese Foreign Ministry School, a Serbelloni Fellow in Residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy, and a Visiting Professor at Meiji University in Japan.
Other positions he has held include Director of the Center for New York State and Local Government Studies at SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany; Research Director of New York's Temporary State Commission on Constitutional Revision; and Principal Research Advisor to the New York City Charter Revision Commission. He has written and edited 14 books or monographs and numerous government reports and articles, most on state and local government in New York. His book with Richard Nathan, Regionalism and Realism: A Study of Governments in the New York Metropolitan Area, was named an outstanding academic title for 2002 by Choice magazine.
For his work in state and local government, Benjamin has received many awards and accolades, including a distinguished alumnus citation from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and a regional achievement award from the Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress in Newburgh, N.Y. He was named one of the most powerful people in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions by the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., in 2003 and 2004.
Now, Professor Benjamin has embarked on the latest phase of his career, presiding over the campus's new Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO). The Center will serve as the principal locus of the college’s efforts to raise its level of engagement within communities, governments, not-for-profits and businesses across the Hudson Valley. These efforts include conducting research on regional topics; encouraging faculty to build regionally based service activity into their scholarship and teaching; and creating and running institutes, conferences and programs focused on specific topics of regional interest.
Benjamin is uniquely qualified to direct the Center. Believing that “public service must be at the core of the mission of any great public university,” he has for many years advocated bringing together the intellectual resources of the college to serve the region and the state.
Finally, Benjamin’s creative take on community spirit is evidenced by his leadership of One Book, One New Paltz. This annual reading event focuses on a single work, with everyone in the community reading the same book. Recitations, discussions, art exhibitions, film showings and other public events are held in overflowing meeting halls, classrooms and coffee shops, on campus and throughout the town. After only three years, One Book, One New Paltz has become a tradition – one of the most popular in New Paltz.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.