Sixty years of history were present in New Paltz this past weekend, bringing together old friends from as far back as the SUNY New Paltz class of 1955 to as recent as the class of 2015.
This past weekend, SUNY New Paltz hosted its annual Alumni Weekend.
The weekend invited alumni to events such as the Jervis McEntee exhibition talk with guest educator Kevin Cook, the Mainstage Production of “Panic” written by New York City playwright Joseph Goodrich at Parker Theatre. Other events included meeting Augie the campus dog, a 3D printing demonstration and a hike through the Mohonk Preserve.
The main events took place on Saturday, Oct. 3, as Amber Greene from the graduating class of 2003, Onika Jervis of the class of 1993 and Professor Emeritus William B. Rhoads were honored at the weekend’s luncheon.
Greene, who graduated with a bachelor’s in public relations and is now the policy director of Public Advocate in New York City, received the first-ever Distinguished Alumni Service Award for 2014-2015 for her services as co-chair of the First World alumni-volunteer steering committee and guiding the work of volunteers to stage a multi-event, weekend-long reunion, according to the SUNY New Paltz website.
Greene was also a featured panelist during the College’s inaugural Women’s Summit in March and has supported alumni and campus events throughout the year.
Jervis received the Alumni Heritage Award and has been a consistent volunteer with the College for over 20 years. She traveled all the way from Louisiana.
Rhoads, who had been a professor of art history at the College from 1970 to 2005, was the recipient of this year’s Faculty Heritage Award.
Greene said she felt very fortunate and humbled to be honored with her distinction.
“I enjoy working with and volunteering for New Paltz,” she said. “It was really nice being recognized for the work that myself and the rest of the committee work on throughout the year.”
She said her time spent as a New Paltz student was a lot of fun and she made great friendships, which is why she feels she is so committed to helping the school.
“It was a great experience for me because I was in an environment that was supportive,” she said.
She attributed much of her success to the strong relationships she built with some of her professors during her time as an undergraduate, such as Dr. Pat Sullivan, the head of the Honors Program, Professor Shelley Wright, who now works for President Christian, as well as the late Margaret Wade-Lewis, whose name is honored in the form of a scholarship, in part founded by Greene.
“I had really strong professors who encouraged us to be innovative and creative and told us to not be afraid to try different things,” she said.
Steven Posada, an alumni affairs officer at the College and a SUNY New Paltz graduate of the class of 2012, said Alumni Weekend gives New Paltz graduates the opportunity to come back to the campus and to the town they love.
He said one of New Paltz’s goals as an institution is to engage alumni of all generations. He said he had talked to alumni at the event who traveled from places as close as the Village to as far as California.
“To have people that are willing to travel so much to be here and who were here so many years ago to where this is almost a completely different campus is rewarding,” he said. “They still feel that love for New Paltz. It sets a trend of culture for people to want to continue coming back and letting them know that this campus is day-by-day progressing.”