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The Office of the President

Updates 05/08/2009

Faculty and Professional Staff Meeting President's Report 5/8/09

I’d like to start my final report of this academic year with some uplifting news about our incoming class.

Admissions Results (to date): Despite economic news that has engendered concern at many colleges and universities about their ability to enroll enough students and enough high-quality students, New Paltz is succeeding on both fronts. Therecent New York Times piece accurately forecast that we’d get a surge of great students. Vice President Eaton informs me that we have met our target for fall 2009 with admirable precision. We expect 1,100 first-year students and 600 transfer students. The size of this class puts New Paltz right at the level where we will receive the maximum amount of state support to cover the costs of educating these students. Equally exciting, according to our preliminary numbers, the selectivity of the class is extraordinary. To give but one quick illustration, the percentage of students in the highest SUNY selectivity group has jumped from 34% in 2008 (itself a record high) to more than 40% this year. My congratulations and thanks to all of you who played a part in yielding these totals.

On another positive note, now that we’ve completed advanced registration for fall, our overall enrollment figures are up by 4% over this time last year (undergraduate enrollment is up 3%, while graduate enrollment is up 10%).

Faculty Hiring: I’m delighted to report that while many of our peer institutions in SUNY have decided to cancel faculty hiring due to their budget cuts, New Paltz plans to search for 15 faculty positions starting in fall 2010. Provost Lavallee and the Deans looked carefully at our critical needs in deciding where we should make these important investments in personnel.

As this year winds down and many of us scatter for the summer, I wanted to give those of you who will remain on campus a preview of what to expect over the next few months.

Construction: The hammers and dust will keep flying in June, July and August:

  • Work on Old Main is on schedule, with demolition and asbestos abatement completed.  Major cuts in the masonry walls have been made and a new electric system is being roughed in.
  • The structural steel for the Student Union has arrived (members of the campus community are invited to put their mark on a steel beam for posterity!) Over the summer, we’ll be able to watch the new structure rise over the concourse.
  • The third – and last! – phase of the multi-year high temperature hot water line project will proceed, with excavation and new pipes laid from Scudder Hall to Bouton Hall along the east side of the Smiley Arts Building.
  • On the residential end of campus, both interior upgrades and roof replacements will be made to several halls, and the Oscar’s eatery in the Hasbrouck complex will undergo a much-needed facelift.

Cultural Events: M&T Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of M&T Bank, has generously given the college $20,000 to help support the major exhibition of Hudson River School paintings, which opens at the Dorsky Museum on July 11. This gift complements the $143,000 federal earmark previously secured by Congressman Hinchey for this exhibit.  The Dorsky will also mount its annual Hudson Valley Artists exhibition beginning June 13, focusing this year on environmental and ecological themes. Piano Summer begins on July 11. And of course, each week the campus will fill up with incoming students and their families for Orientation.

I was pleased to see many of you at the second installment of our Distinguished Speaker Series. Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek, offered an up-to-the-minute and close-to-the-action assessment of our new president’s first 100 days in office.

Fulbright Awards: Congratulations to Professor Sue Books of Secondary Education on her Fulbright Award to Reykjavík, Iceland.  Sue will be lecturing and conducting research on a comparative study of school policy involving immigrant students.

While New Paltz faculty regularly win these highly competitive awards, we achieved a special distinction earlier this month when one of our students garnered a Fulbright. Veronica O'Keefe, a graduating senior with a double major in philosophy and printmaking and a minor in Asian Studies, will travel to northeast China for 10 months to photograph farmers and farming.

Last but not least, as the season of end-of-the-year festivities arrives, our calendars will include several occasions to salute and fete David Lavallee as he steps down as Provost. I hope you’ll join me at the reception for David next Wednesday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the College Terrace.

Good luck with finals—and final grading. I hope to see you all at Commencement, and have a wonderful summer!

- Steve Poskanzer