Committee Evaluates Sojourner Truth Library Dean Candidates

SUNY New Paltz is currently searching for a new dean of Sojourner Truth Library (STL) after Chui-chun Lee retired last semester.

The new dean will replace Interim Dean William Connors who took the position Jan. 1. They must be willing to lead the STL through the upcoming $12 million renovations, support student-faculty collaborative research, manage resources and staff and assist in external fundraising among many other duties, according to

The search committee recently held three open forums for students to ask questions and hear from each candidate. The forums took place on different days for each candidate. May 1 was the forum for Barbara Petruzzelli, director of the library at Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC), May 4 was W. Mark Colvson, associate director of the library at Marist College and the last forum was May 8 with Natalka Sawchuk, assistant director of the Library for Public Services and Systems at Iona College.

Following each forum, students were given the option to review the candidates and submit evaluations on Zoomerang. For an opinion to be considered, students must have read a candidate’s resume and/or attended a session with him/her, Jacqueline Andrews, assistant vice president of institutional research and planning and chair of the search committee, said. Their resumes and cover letters are posted on Blackboard under “My Announcements” on the right side of the opening page.

Andrews, who is also the moderator of the open forum, said she hoped students took the opportunity to attend the forums and vote.

“If students come to the forum, their voice is heard,” Andrews said. “The dean of the Sojourner Truth Library is an important player in the intellectual lives of students and it is right that students have an opportunity to meet the candidates for the position.”

Colvson said he brings 22 years of experience and his goal is to better the communication between students and the library staff. He said although STL currently has a large online presence, he hopes to engage students and the community by making improvements to social media networks, blogging and the website.

“The SUNY New Paltz community have already begun a major review of ways to enhance the library space, through the renovations and the planned learning commons,” Colvson said.  “I’m excited to build on that foundation, especially by continuing the conversations among students, faculty, staff and administration that have informed the process so far.”

Another concern, Colvson said, is the gap between the STL budget and the cost of online journals and databases.

“Online journal costs are growing by 5 to 8 percent annually, while most library budgets have grown by less than 2 percent,” he said. “I’d like to be an advocate, along with librarians nationally for alternatives, such as so-called ‘Open Access’ publishing, which is done on a cost-recovery, rather than a for-profit basis.”

Petruzzelli said she worked in STL for 12 years prior to the six from Mount Saint Mary College.

She said her goal is to create better learning spaces for students and to teach them how to be “skilled information users.”

“My vision for a college library is one that offers outstanding learning spaces for students, [student teachers] to be skilled information users, and advances teaching, learning, and scholarship across the disciplines,” Petruzzelli said. “The library is a place where people come together from all different majors, backgrounds and interests to learn something new — a true intellectual, cultural and social gathering place on campus.”

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled,
although priority is given to applications that were received on or before March 15.

Sawchuk declined to comment.