Climate Director Begins First Semester

Tanhena Pacheco-Dunn got her first taste of the SUNY New Paltz community during Move-In Day. While she started the day not knowing what to expect, she ended it with a good first impression.

“I’m so impressed with people here,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “Everyone is incredibly friendly and outgoing. It isn’t common nowadays to have people smile and say ‘hello’ as you’re walking around campus.”

This past June, Pacheco-Dunn was named executive director for compliance and campus climate. She is the first person to ever serve in this position. Prior to New Paltz, Pacheco-Dunn worked as the assistant director of human resources at neighboring Vassar College for 10 and a half years.

Pacheco-Dunn said the job was created because of the college’s desire to focus on different aspects of campus in one setting.

“My job came about as a result of administration looking at ways to centralize different things,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “The goal of this is to better coordinate compliance issues.”

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said Pacheco-Dunn was brought in to not just help with searches involving campus opinion on climate.

“She’s been working a lot in part because we have so many searches going on this year,” Christian said.  “She’s been working a lot in firming up our search procedures and policies this year.  [We’re] hoping to change search committees so they understand search procedures and can undertake their work most effectively.”

Pacheco-Dunn is working on monitoring campus compliance on different rules, regulations and laws that apply with different legislation. Most notably, Pacheco-Dunn will oversee SUNY New Paltz’s compliance with Title IX, Affirmative Action and Ethics compliances.

Last year, there were discussions held to address racially offensive signs posted around campus. Though the incident caused a stir among the campus community, Pacheco-Dunn said she is not anxious coming into the position.

“It’s not something that makes me nervous, what it does do is help to continue to create conversation about an important issue,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “What came out of last year is the opportunity to have these great conversations that have to happen. It’s easy to avoid the issue, and it’s great that the college was willing to take it on.”

Pacheco-Dunn started June 18 of this year and said most of her time has been dedicated to learning about the New Paltz community and understanding how the administration works.

“It’s been a lot of learning, learning, learning so far,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “Summer was a lot of inventory and learning how processes work here. I want to make communication between different offices stronger than they already are and make them more effective.”

Christian said planning campus-wide events is something Pacheco-Dunn would like to do, but because the position is new, this sort of planning will come further down the road.

“She hasn’t really gotten started a lot on campus-wide programming, but I think that will come later on,” Christian said.

Pacheco-Dunn said she looks forward to planning campus events, but even more so to getting to know the students who make up the student body.

“I think New Paltz students are extremely creative, extremely bright and very warm and welcoming,” Pacheco-Dunn said. “I’m really looking forward to working with different student groups and helping to keep the important conversations in the picture.”