Donald P. Christian was appointed the eighth president at the State University of New York at New Paltz in June 2011 after serving as interim president during 2010-11. Previously, Christian served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the College in 2009-2010.
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. The president represents the campus’ interests within the SUNY System, with local, state, and federal-elected officials and surrounding communities, and leads or supports many aspects of the College’s role in SUNY and New York State economic development initiatives. In 2013-14, the College began implementing a strategic plan developed under the president’s leadership; primary goals of the plan are to take specific actions that improve the quality of the student experience and the College’s educational contributions, strengthen the College’s role and visibility in the region, enhance alumni relations, improve philanthropic success, and enhance institutional effectiveness.
The president is advised by the College Council; the president’s Cabinet, comprising the chief of staff/vice president for Communication, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs, and vice presidents for administration and finance, development and alumni relations, enrollment management, and student affairs; a 24-member group of senior campus leaders; and an approximately 120-member Administrative Council. The president speaks and reports frequently about College matters with students, faculty and staff, and community and civic groups, and works closely with the SUNY New Paltz Foundation board, which raises and manages private funds to support the College and its goals.
Prior to his arrival at New Paltz, Christian was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire from 2004 to 2009, where he led campus, state, and national efforts 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 was associate dean for the Biological Sciences at the University of Montana. Christian held many positions at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (1978-1997), including chair of Biology and director of graduate studies in the Biology Graduate Program. Christian has held appointments as professor of biology at all institutions he has served, including SUNY New Paltz. Christian is a member of the boards of directors of Central Hudson Gas and Electric, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, and the Mohonk Preserve. He serves on the Governor’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. His other memberships include the Advisory Council of Historic Huguenot Street, the President’s Trust of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and he is a consultant with Mohonk Consultations.
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.