Dean of the School of Business Hadi Salavitabar will be leaving SUNY New Paltz to become provost at the College of Saint Rose in Albany.
Salavitabar, who has worked at New Paltz for 31 years and as a dean for 12, said he has “grown up” with the business program, as it was just being introduced when he first began working here.
Among all that he and his team have accomplished for the school, he said he is particularly proud of increasing the business program’s enrollment, creating additional undergraduate degree and MBA programs and achieving international accreditation.
When the press release announced his departure on April 12, Salavitabar said a day that was supposed to be “cheerful” turned into the most difficult day of his career.
“I got hundreds of emails, very emotional emails from students, alum, the business community, my colleagues across the campus,” he said. “The part that I had the hardest time with…I had a few students who came to my office and cried which really broke my heart.”
Salavitabar said while he will miss “everything,” he will miss his students the most. Having built close relationships with many of them, he said he treats them like his own sons and daughters and has already promised to return for their graduations, award ceremonies and other important events.
Despite his love for New Paltz and the School of Business, Salavitabar said the transition is something he needs right now and students should take it as a learning experience.
“It was not an easy decision at all, but I believe it’s the right decision. It’s the right time in my career to do a bigger thing and to take on more challenges,” he said. “I’m hoping my students take that as a part of their education, that you always have to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable in one thing to do forever. You have to always think about ‘what else can I do to make a bigger difference’ and that was really what motivated me to do that.”
Salavitabar said Saint Rose is a very tight-knit and service-oriented community with great faculty, staff and students. He said their ideas match up with his and he plans to expand on what they already have, establish new programs and seek other accreditations.
“The bottom line…is to create an environment and services where students can be best educated, where students can get to the point where they can really be very successful when they graduate from a school,” he said. “That’s really what we’re all here for.”
Chaitali Gajjar, a fourth-year international business major, has worked for Salavitabar as his office assistant and is co-president of the Accounting and Finance Association. She said he has been a mentor to her and his openness and closeness to students makes him feel more like a friend than a dean.
When she first heard about Salavitabar leaving, Gajjar said she was especially upset because she will still be here for the Master’s program next year.
“I was so sad because I’ve been working so closely with him, he’s almost like a father to me,” she said. “When I saw the email that he’s leaving, I was like, I’m still going to be here for a year and I cannot imagine any other person sitting in that office. How you feel about a family member leaving, that’s how I felt.”
Third-year marketing major Liz Sydney said she felt similarly. She has worked in Salavitabar’s office as well and is also president of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board.
Working with him for two years, Sydney said he has shown himself to truly be a role model for all students. Although she said it will be “impossible” to replace him, Sydney said he has brought the school to a place where it can continue to thrive.
“He made such a foundation for this school that it’s going to be hard to change it. Yes, it won’t be the same face in the office, but I think that a good leader teaches you how to do it and how to be successful,” she said. “A bad leader just does it themselves, and because he works with everyone and taught everyone what was supposed to happen, not just told them, the business school’s going to be fine.”
As Saint Rose is only an hour and half away, Salavitabar said he will still keep in touch, help students when they need it and stay in their lives. He said he is extremely “privileged” to have worked for New Paltz for so long and that the School of Business will always be his “baby.”
“It’s such a great family, it makes it very hard,” he said. “By going to the College of Saint Rose, the way I look at it, I’m going to establish another family, but it doesn’t mean I’m leaving this family. There’s nothing wrong with having two families.”