The Inauguration of SUNY
New Paltz’s Ninth President

Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler

Presidential Fund for Innovation
in Public Higher Education

Higher Education Institutions that thrive—indeed, survive—in the future will be those which operate in a culture of innovation. The people within these thriving institutions and the systems they create to deliver high quality academic offerings will demonstrate entrepreneurialism and a willingness to overcome challenges on multiple fronts. Stated quite simply, successful public higher education institutions will and must embody a can-do spirit.

The Presidential Fund for Innovation in Public Higher Education has been launched in honor of New Paltz’s ninth president, Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler, to recognize sustained creative commitment, and innovative thinking and activities in public higher education and specifically for SUNY New Paltz. The Fund will provide financial awards recognizing individuals and/or teams at SUNY New Paltz who have demonstrated these qualities in academic offerings, institutional operations, programming and/or community engagement.

Awardees will be sought from campus annually. Administered by the Office of the Provost, a panel of faculty, students and staff will select the awardees each year.

The goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000, which will be expended over a number of years. The amount of the award may vary, based on funds available in the account. Awards will be given to the awardee’s department or program area for use at the awardee’s recommendation.

In addition to the financial award, those honored/selected will be recognized as innovators through:

  • annual public recognition with other members of the cohort, including a personal profile spotlight in New Paltz Digest
  • recognition on the Office of the President website
  • recognition at an annual awardees’ reception with other awardees and partners
  • the opportunity to share work or present to campus and community members, with an emphasis on how the work enriches the life of the University.

Please join us in fostering innovation and entrepreneurialism by making a generous gift today.  Investments we make in the people who make up the SUNY New Paltz community will have an enduring impact on our beloved institution and its ability to remain a vibrant community of bold innovative thinkers and doers.

Give here or contact the Vice President Erica Marks in the Office of Development & Alumni Relations at or 845-257-3238 to make a multi-year pledge and/or tailor your giving to fit your needs.

Note: a small portion of each gift will support honoree recognition opportunities and celebrations.

How are innovation and entrepreneurialism defined?

Innovation and entrepreneurialism may be found among our dedicated and caring teaching faculty, who bring to their work new ways of thinking about research and scholarly education, community engagement, and creative projects. These qualities may be found in staff members who spur social change and improve the way we live and work. They are found in the visual and performing arts, humanities, social justice, business, the STEM professions, and many more.


Potential awardees might have:

  • developed new programs in study or travel that inspire new ways of seeing and engaging the world locally or globally;
  • inspired new or ongoing collaborative approaches to work;
  • developed a New Paltz-wide program that helps solve a community challenge, large or small;
  • a history of bringing innovation to campus;
  • new ways of mentoring students to inspire success;
  • created community partnerships with those outside of our campus; and
  • so much more!


If we meet an initial goal of $50,000, the first awards will be made in spring 2024, with awardee suggestions sought in fall 2023. Thank you for your generous contribution!