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Background and Context


SUNY New Paltz has the common threads of innovation throughout its history. Founded in 1828 as the New Paltz Classical School, the institution spent the majority of the 19th century training teachers for New York State public schools. However, unlike most institutions of its kind, New Paltz encouraged a more expansive course of study that allowed its students to explore subjects beyond teacher training. Over the next 100 years, the curricular mission of the school broadened from the nearly single-track of the Classical School to one that encouraged diversity of study; in 1938 the institution became an official college and in 1948 one of the founding schools of the SUNY system. In 1960 New Paltz was on the forefront again and became among the first SUNY schools to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 2014, the College opened the nation’s first MakerBot Innovation Center: a collaborative 3D printing initiative that brings together various disciplines, students, faculty, and regional businesses.

New Paltz has also been a pioneer in creating an inclusive environment. In 1901 the College welcomed 50 female students from Cuba and in 1968 a program in Black Studies was established. The College has received SUNY system grants to support diversity in hiring and conducts annual cultural competency training. The College created and administered an LGBTQ climate survey to ensure it was being responsive to the needs of students, faculty, and staff and implementing best practices, and this fall, New Paltz welcomed its highest number of trans students. In 2016 New Paltz hired its first Chief Diversity Officer, as well as a new Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Thus the hallmarks of a New Paltz education have long been in place: innovation and free exploration of ideas, a responsive learning environment, and celebration of lifelong learning, respect for diversity, and inclusivity.

Location and Campus

New Paltz is a vibrant, historic village (pop. 14,003) in New York State’s Hudson Valley region, midway between Albany and New York City. The locale offers a variety of outdoor activities from rock climbing, hiking, biking, skiing, and swimming in glacial lakes, to sampling the seasonal bounty of New Paltz’s many farms, orchards, and wineries. New Paltz is also close to many cultural, artistic, and historic attractions, including the contemporary sculpture gardens of the Storm King Art Center, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt home and presidential library. The campus’ 75-mile proximity to Albany and New York City provides educational opportunities for students through clinical experiences, internships, and access to bountiful artistic, historic, government, and international resources.

The SUNY New Paltz campus covers 216 acres. The physical plant has improved dramatically since 2000, including: new and renovated residence halls; the opening of the Athletic and Wellness Center; the construction of a new science building; the planning for a new “engineering innovation hub” (scheduled for completion in 2018); and the renovation of the Student Union Building, several academic buildings, and the Sojourner Truth Library. These changes represent the most significant investment in infrastructure to support the College’s educational mission since the mid-20th century.


Mission Statement

In the proud tradition of SUNY, the State University of New York at New Paltz is committed to providing high quality, affordable education to students from all social and economic backgrounds. We are a faculty and campus community dedicated to the construction of a vibrant intellectual/creative public forum which reflects and celebrates the diversity of our society and encourages and supports active participation in scholarly and artistic activity. SUNY New Paltz is an active contributor to the schools, community institutions and economic/cultural life of our region. We are selective in admitting students who show promise of thriving in a learning environment which is challenging, student-centered, and personalized. Our goal is for students to gain knowledge, skills, and confidence to contribute as productive members of their communities and professions and active citizens in a democratic nation and a global society.