After an extended search that included the withdrawal of four candidates, former SUNY New Paltz interim president Donald Christian assumed the full time position.
The SUNY Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Christian president of the college on June 15. Originally named provost and vice president for academic affairs in Aug. 2009, Christian took on the interim presidency in July 2010 when former president Steven Poskanzer assumed a position at Carleton College in Minnesota.
Carl Hayden, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees, said the group knew Christian’s “passion for education” would benefit the college before he was ever named a finalist in the presidential search in May.
“We are so pleased to provide the opportunity for him to continue sharing that passion with the New Paltz community,” he said. “We look forward to the great contributions Dr. Christian will bring to New Paltz and the state university.”
Christian, a former professor of biology and zoology who has worked at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the University of Montana and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, said he wants to build upon what he has done as an interim to make the campus a better place for students and that he has many ideas for doing so.
However, the new president said he did not expect to ever take on his position – but he is happy to do so.
“I never would have imagined at the time that the new president would be me, or that I could be so excited about this opportunity to lead such a special institution,” he said. “I appreciate and am humbled by the confidence placed in me by so many people on and off the New Paltz campus.”
When Poskanzer announced his departure, a search committee chaired by Kenneth Abt was formed to find the next president. The original set of finalists included Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse Joe Gow, Lehman College Provost Mary Papazian and John Schreiber, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. A fourth finalist rescinded their candidacy before a campus visit was scheduled.
While the other three candidates did appear in open forums with students and meet with administrators and campus staff, they all eventually withdrew from the search.
Abt announced that Gow rescinded his candidacy on March 17, and Schreiber did the same several days later. Papazian said she removed herself from the search in May after she heard an internal candidate had been named a finalist.
In spite of the fact that SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher had to authorize an extension of the search, she said she is pleased with the outcome.
“This is exactly the kind of leadership that one of the most up-and-coming colleges in the nation needs and deserves,” she said. “I am truly thrilled to continue working and partnering with Dr. Christian, and I thank the Board for confirming his nomination as president.”