Donald Christian was appointed the eighth President at the State University of New York at New Paltz, effective June 16, 2011.
He served as Interim President from July 2010 until his appointment as President. Prior to his time in the Office of the President, Christian served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the College for the 2009-2010 academic year.
As President, Christian is responsible for all aspects of campus academic and administrative operations, including education, research, faculty recruitment and development. Working in collaboration with internal and external constituencies, the president provides overall leadership and guidance for the College including the leading of discussions and process to identify attainable institutional goals. The president represents the campus’ interests within the SUNY System, with local and state-elected officials and with the surrounding communities.
In addition to serving as President, Christian is a professor in the Biology Department.
Prior to his arrival at New Paltz, Christian was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for five years. As Dean, Christian led efforts at campus, state, and national levels to advance understanding of the value of a liberal education in a knowledge-driven 21st century society; strengthened student-faculty research programs; and supported projects to enhance equity and diversity on the campus. Previously (1997-2004), he served as associate dean for the Biological Sciences at the University of Montana where he was also professor. Christian held many positions at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (1978-1997), including chair and professor in the Biology Department and director of graduate studies in the Biology Graduate Program. After completing his Ph. D. at Michigan State University in 1977, he worked there for one year as an instructor in the Department of Zoology and curator of mammals at the College’s museum.
In 2008, Christian was invited to participate in the Wingspread Conference on Liberal Education by Wisconsin’s Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly. Christian was awarded the Outstanding Academic Administrator Award from the University of Montana in 2000 and the Service to Chapter Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society in 1995.
Christian was appointed to the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress board of directors in 2013. As a member of the Pattern's board, he oversees their mission of promoting regional solutions to quality-of-life issues.
Recipient of numerous research grants and contracts, Christian has published widely in journals such as Thought & Action; Journal of Wildlife Management; Wildlife Biology; Wetlands; Biomass & Bioenergy; Conservation Biology; and the Journal of Mammalogy, and has presented his work at numerous conferences and other institutions. Christian earned a B. S. in Wildlife Biology, and M. S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from Michigan State University.
Christian and his wife Sandy, a psychotherapist, reside in New Paltz and have two children.