News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

President gives 'State of the College' address

In his "State of the College" address, college President Steven Poskanzer outlined some of the colleges' principal accomplishments in the recent past; where the institution currently stands; and what the campus community must do together to realize its aspirations.

The president began by explaining that the college was poised to be "the site of the finest and most intellectually engaging undergraduate education in the State University of New York and a worthy rival to fine liberal arts colleges across the nation." He reported that the college has:

  • Recruited its most academically-talented freshman class this fall, with an average SAT of 1160, and a high school average of 90. In addition, he said that he was proud of the diversity of the entering class, with more than 21 percent coming from historically under-represented groups.
  • On the faculty front, the president reported that the Provost's Office recruited 23 new full-time faculty this fall, and has 25 new and continued searches already underway for next year.
  • This year, through a collective effort on behalf of the students and the administration, he also reported that campus secured a $10 million line item in additional state funding to renovate and build an addition to the Student Union Building; "As a reference point," said Poskanzer, "until 2005, New Paltz's historical total of special appropriations from legislators was only $300,000."
  • Finally, he reported that in 2005 the college set a new record for fundraising -- more than $2.5 million, including a $1million bequest for recruitment scholarships for high-achieving students.

In the midst of this good news, Poskanzer pointed out that New Paltz also has some genuine vulnerabilities.

  • First: The college has for years relied too much on part-time faculty to teach both general education and major courses. He said that the remedy is simple: "We need more full-time faculty and we need to reduce the proportion of key courses taught by adjuncts."
  • Second: The college must raise the profile of the entering classes even further.
  • Third: Graduation rates too low-especially the four-year rate that is the norm at other selective colleges.
  • Fourth: New Paltz does not garner enough external research funding, particularly given the quality of the faculty.
  • Fifth: Assessment efforts lag behind those of other campuses.
  • And last: While the college's balance sheet is in the black, it does not have enough money to do all that it needs and wants to do.

Vision of the Future:
The president spoke about how the campus should address what lies ahead, which he then outlined in eight items:

  • First: Continue raising the academic quality and selectivity of the students, while remaining a very diverse institution in terms of student ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography and intellectual interests.
  • Second: Hire and retain faculty who are serious about both their scholarship and teaching.
  • Third: Teach a curriculum that prepares students for their careers and lives.
  • Fourth: Link student intellectual growth with faculty scholarship. "Connections between undergraduate learning and faculty scholarship will be an important part of what makes New Paltz different from community colleges, research universities and less-distinguished comprehensive and liberal arts colleges," said Poskanzer.
  • Fifth: Residential character must reinforce the college's educational goals. Poskanzer said, "To realize our ambitions, most of our undergraduate students will live on campus and many faculty and staff will live in close proximity to campus."
  • Sixth: Meeting student needs. He said that this included updating the administrative computing system that allows the college to keep records, generate bills and calculate financial aid. He said that New Paltz will now begin to implement to the Banner system, which is currently used by 11 of the 13 comprehensive colleges.
  • Seventh: The college must address regional economic and schooling needs by being a willing partner and supplier of talent in the form of graduates and faculty expertise to local business and industry, school districts and social services.
  • Eighth: New Paltz will be a cultural and intellectual hub for the mid-Hudson region through its arts events, athletic contests and public lectures.

He concluded by saying that New Paltz can and should be an elite, highly selective, residential public college. "That is our overarching objective," he said.

For a complete copy of the "State of the College" address, visit

SEPTEMBER 26, 2005
Volume 3, Issue 19

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