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Presidential Reports and Communications

President's Report
Academic and Professional Faculty Meeting
April 27, 2012

I begin this report with a note of thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to inaugural events and activities - the planning committee, faculty who joined the processional, faculty and staff who worked as marshals, members of the platform party, students, facilities and grounds employees whose work had the campus sparkling - along with those who helped on campus clean-up day, faculty and students who participated in the showcase of student work and panel presentation on liberal education, Cabinet colleagues who grilled burgers and dogs for students at the Sunday evening barbeque, and many others who attended to logistic and planning matters large and small. Our campus visitors were rightfully impressed by an institution that takes pride in doing things well. One of my colleagues, a retired provost and president, told me that he has attended probably 40 inaugurations, and this one stood out as exceptional in its mood, spirit, and execution - and that is due to the careful work of so many people. It certainly was a memorable event for me and my family, and I hope it was equally so for the life of the campus. Thank you.

Administrative Searches. You are aware from other communications that we have successfully completed searches for the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs search and the Dean of Science and Engineering, with the respective appointments of Dr. Philip Mauceri and Dr. Daniel Freedman. I am extremely pleased that we have been able to recruit both of them into these key academic leadership positions. Dean Freedman’s appointment was effective earlier this month, and Dr. Mauceri will join us on August 1. We already are developing plans to assist Dr. Mauceri in his transition to SUNY New Paltz and his new role as Chief Academic Officer.

I am working with the recommendation from the search committee for the Dean of the School of Education, and hope to finalize that process in a matter of days. The search committee for the Dean of the Sojourner Truth Library has invited finalist candidates to campus during the first two weeks of May.

You will know by now that Tanhena Pacheco Dunn has accepted my offer of the position of Executive Director for Compliance and Campus Climate, and will join us on June 18. Tanhena’s (pronounced Ta-Heen-A) responsibilities will include serving as primary contact and compliance officer for Title IX issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and workplace violence; overseeing our affirmative action plan including reviewing and approving search plans; developing and implementing educational and training programming on equity and inclusiveness. She will play a key role in working with the entire community to advance goals outlined in my inaugural address to continue improving the campus climate for all members of the College. This position is in part responsive to a federal mandate that campuses have a single point of contact and resource for the above Title IX complaints; we have defined the position to carry a broader array of other responsibilities.

Tanhena currently serves as Assistant Director of Human Resources at Vassar College, where her responsibilities have included counseling and directing employees and supervisors on compliance, performance management, and staffing needs; managing the employment/ recruitment process; providing training on topics including, diversity, harassment, Title IX, and other topics; investigating employee concerns and complaints and coordinating resolutions.

She is an alumnus of Vassar College and Albany Law School of Union University. Tanhena brings a wealth of experience and capability to the position. She is well-regarded by her Vassar colleagues as a thoughtful problem-solver who works effectively and collegially with faculty, staff, students, and fellow administrators. I know that many will be away from campus when she joins us this summer and will not have an opportunity to meet and interact with Tanhena until the fall. I am excited that we have been able to recruit her to join us at New Paltz.

Chancellor’s Awards. I am pleased to announce the following Chancellor’s Award recipients, and ask that you join me in congratulating these colleagues for this recognition of their exceptional work and contributions:

  • Tom Meyer, Associate Professor of Secondary Education and Director of the Hudson Valley Writing Project, Excellence in Faculty Service

  • Susan Kraat, Associate Librarian and Coordinator of Library Instruction, Sojourner Truth Library, Excellence in Librarianship

  • Linda Smith, Senior Instructional Technologist, Department of Academic Computing, Excellence in Professional Service

  • Gwen Havranek, Director of Business Operations, Office of the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Excellence in Professional Service

There were no Chancellor’s Awards for Outstanding Teaching at New Paltz because no nominations were brought forward for consideration.

Vice President Rooney and I traveled to Albany on April 4 for a ceremony recognizing student recipients of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Four New Paltz students were among the 257 SUNY students recognized for their impressive combination of academic and athletic, leadership, service, or other achievements and contributions. They are all members of the class of 2012:

  • Jeremy Borrelli
  • Alexandra Danz
  • Kristofer Pistillo
  • Ayanna Thomas

Accepted Students Day and Student Recruitment. Thank you to everyone who contributed to a very successful Accepted Students Day on March 31. Our primary marker for recruitment trends is the number of paid deposits. Our paid deposits had been lagging behind last year, a pattern seen by other regional institutions this year as well. However, as proof of the fine work that all of you did to yield our class, our deposits have caught up with prior years; 76% of the planned 1,125 new freshmen have already deposited. Transfer deposits are on track as well. May 1st is the National Candidate Response Date, so deposit activity will be very heavy over the next 4 or 5 days. At this time, it is safe to say that we have the largest number of undergraduate applications among all SUNY University Colleges, by a large margin and for the 23rd consecutive year. We are well on track to recruit the incoming class of students we are committed to serving.

I am sure you appreciate that as we have become increasingly tuition-dependent, recruiting the right number of students is especially pressing. A decade ago, our core instructional budget comprised 55% tuition and 45% taxpayer support. This year, it has shifted to 72% tuition and 28% taxpayer support. Reaching our enrollment targets matters a great deal, and I am grateful that so many throughout the institution have contributed to these successes. A key piece of good news in this emerging picture is that the academic quality and preparedness of accepted students are very strong.

Budget Update. We are organizing the many requests for investment of new tuition revenues and will share these very soon. We realize we are slightly behind schedule and are committed to ensuring appropriate consultation about these requests before the end of the semester.

External Activities. Last week, I spoke at the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting, and will continue to seize such opportunities to highlight the exceptional work and accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff.

Earlier this week, I joined Development Office staff at an alumni event on Long Island, attended by about 30 alumni, mostly from classes in the 1950s (2 from the class of 1949!). One of our alumni, who has included New Paltz in his planned giving, was instrumental in organizing this event, and prodded his classmates to take similar steps to support New Paltz financially, including through planned giving and bequests. Such gifts will benefit future students. I spoke with pride about the wonderful traditions that continue at New Paltz, adapted to modern challenges. I continue to be impressed with the affection and regard our alumni have for their alma mater, and the pride they take in our growing recognition and reputation. Faculty and academic staff should recognize that close - and varied - personal connections with students are the most prominent source of such affections.

Other.

  • The final “Brown Bag” with faculty and staff this semester will be held at 9 AM on Monday, April 30, in Haggerty 903. As always, I welcome questions and discussion topics in advance, but we never seem to want for issues and ideas to talk about. I look forward to seeing you there.

  • You will have received invitations to two receptions that I hope you will attend:

    • Recognizing and thanking Simin Mozayeni for her four years of service as Presiding Officer of the Faculty, Wednesday, May 9, immediately after the 12-2 PM Faculty meeting.

    • Recognizing and thanking five individuals who served in interim leadership roles this year and last, including Cheryl Torsney, Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, Karen Bell, Dan Freedman, and William Connors. This event will be Thursday, May 10, 3-5PM in the Terrace.

  • The re-dedication of a renovated Old Main is scheduled for 11AM on Friday, May 11; details will be announced in advance.

I wish everyone well in these final weeks of the semester leading up to commencement, in what I know is one of the most challenging periods of the academic year.

Donald P. Christian
President