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The Office of the President

Presidential Reports and Communications 05/06/2015

President’s Report
Academic and Professional Faculty Meeting
May 6, 2015

In my final report of the academic year, I am sharing several exciting news items about our faculty and staff, brief updates, and key information about the College as we end the current academic year and look ahead to 2015-16.

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 outstanding contributions.  We will formally present these awards at the first faculty meeting and the first classified staff gathering in the fall:

  • Kevin Caskey, Professor, School of Business, Excellence in Faculty Service
  • James Dearce, Adjunct Faculty, Sociology, Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
  • John Rayburn, Associate Professor, Geology, Excellence in Teaching
  • Stephen Rider, Motor Equipment Mechanic, Facilities Operation, Excellence in Classified Service
  • Tim Roberson, Senior Web Application Programmer, Information Technology and Computer Services, Excellence in Professional Service
  • Lou Roper, Professor, History, Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
  • Patricia Sullivan,  Professor, Digital Media and Journalism, and Director, Honors Program, Excellence in Professional Service

First World Reunion.  The College hosted a wonderful First World Alumni reunion on campus last weekend, with more than 200 alumni attending.  This was an alumni-driven event that the College supported, and the event clearly underscored our strategic plan priority of increasing alumni engagement. It was very rewarding to welcome these alumni back to campus and hear their fond memories of New Paltz. I enjoyed hearing about the impact of their education and experiences on their lives, and to experience their joy at reconnecting with friends and with their alma mater – both as they remember it and as it is now.

At an honoring ceremony Friday evening, many expressed their surprise in learning about “Project A,” a ground-breaking 1967-68 effort to increase recruitment and success of students of color at New Paltz. This project was the forerunner of the Educational Opportunity Program, the Black Studies Department, and the Scholars Mentorship Program.  Retiring professor of Black Studies Zelbert Moore was among those recognized as a “Trailblazer” for their support of such programs and of educational opportunity to students.  The connection of these alumni to the College and today’s students was exemplified by their success at raising funds to support the Dr. Margaret Wade Lewis Memorial Scholarship Program. For recent members of our community, Dr. Wade-Lewis was a longstanding faculty member and leader in Black Studies and the Scholars Mentorship Program, who passed away in 2009. It is difficult to state adequately how fondly she is remembered by former students for the inspiration that she gave them.

Fall 2014-15 Enrollment Figures.  The number of paid admissions deposits exceeds last year’s for both first-year and transfer students. We will remain attentive to preventing excessive summer “melt” and providing a positive new-student orientation experience so that these numbers hold.  Despite that voice of caution, this is a tremendous outcome, and I thank everyone for your contributions to this communal success, and give a special callout to the Undergraduate Admissions staff for their leadership of this effort.  Fall semester registration figures for continuing students are also strong, another sign forecasting a healthy economy for next year, although summer enrollments, both online and face-to-face, are lagging.  

Enrollment Trends by School. This year’s recruitment success should allow us to continue our 7-year trend of remarkably stable overall undergraduate enrollment during a turbulent era for student recruitment.  Our total enrollment has also been generally stable during that period despite multiple years of declining graduate enrollments (the latter trend may be ending). These patterns are shown in the following graph:

That stability masks significant changes in enrollment by school during the last 5-7 years.  I have alluded to such changes in previous reports and addresses, and believe it is instructive for you to see the magnitude of these changes, as shown in the following graphs.  I am grateful to Enrollment Management Vice President David Eaton for sharing graphs used in this report:

School of Education

These different trends reflect the choices that students make to pursue some majors and fields and not others; some (e.g., STEM enrollment) reflect national patterns.  I hope we recognize that without the growth in some majors and schools to offset declines in others, we would have overall enrollment decreases and a serious decline in our economy and programmatic array and offerings. 

One of our responses to these shifts since 2011 has been to differentially allocate new faculty positions to growth areas, made possible only through the new tuition revenues in the SUNY 2020 rational tuition policy. With no substantial increase in state taxpayer support and little net increase in our flexible budget for the coming year, our primary option for responding to enrollment stresses in some areas in LA&S, Science and Engineering, and Business is to reallocate vacant lines from areas of declining enrollment. The figures shown here illustrate the challenges that we face in responding to growing enrollment, and the opportunity we have to better calibrate resource allocation and student demand. This is a slow process with multiple time lags, and we must undertake it with careful attention to allocating resources effectively to best support our mission, sustaining valuable New Paltz traditions, and retaining our ability to respond over time to future changes in enrollment demand.  I appreciate everyone’s patience as we make these changes this year and in the coming years – always attentive to ensuring as best we can that teaching and learning needs in areas of declining enrollment are met during these transitions.     

Provost Search.  I am finalizing membership of the Provost search committee and will meet to charge the committee before the end of the semester.  During the summer, the search committee will review the institutional profile and position description from the 2011-12 search and revise as warranted.  A subcommittee of the search committee will recommend a search consultant to assist with this search.  Our aim is to advertise this opportunity at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

Faculty and Staff Appreciation Picnic.  A brief reminder of our all-campus end-of-year barbeque and picnic, Wednesday, May 20, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on the Old Main Quad (rain location is the Athletic and Wellness Center), organized and hosted by Development and Alumni Relations.  I hope that you will consider joining us to spend time with colleagues and help honor Classified Staff Presidential Recognition Award recipients.

I look forward to seeing you at the Faculty meeting on Wednesday, May 6, where I will be available to respond to questions or comments you may have about this report or other topics.

I wish everyone well for the completion of the semester and for a productive, successful, and rejuvenating summer.


Donald P. Christian