Dr. Richard Ordway Announces His Plans to Retire

Photo Courtesy of SUNY New Paltz

Dr. Richard “Jack” Ordway, director of the Student Health Service, plans to retire at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year as announced by the university on Feb. 1. Dr. Ordway has been a physician on campus since 1982 and the director of the Student Health Service since 2011. Leading the campus through developments and advancements of health services, the COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies as well as defining the school’s “core mission” for health services, Ordway has played a critical role on campus for over 40 years. 

Dr. Ordway attended SUNY New Paltz for his undergraduate degree, while his father worked as a professor of geology at the same time. These deep family ties helped create his deep value and care for the school and campus community throughout Ordway’s career. 

With dedication to the campus along with expertise gained from working as a physician on campus, Dr. Ordway helped define the core mission of SUNY New Paltz’s campus health facilities. This core mission includes “providing quality medical care in a compassionate environment; helping students learn how to interact with the healthcare system as adults; and guiding students toward making healthy choices in their diet, exercise, sleep, recreation and prevention.”

Helping define his career were the “cross-campus partnerships” forged in his tenure. This collaboration with the Psychological Counseling Center, Disability Resource Center and other units such as external health departments aided in ensuring “timely and appropriate treatment” is available on campus. Ordway described this important concept as an objective part of treatment, where he is able to “give [students] what they need, not more than what they need, not less than what they need, at the time that they’re here.” Being able to directly aid students with health concerns in the early stages of learning how to use the medical system was a part of Dr. Ordway’s career where he found a lot of value. 

During unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Ordway stood as a leading figure in navigating the challenge to norms and healthcare. Dr. Ordway explained that “it was basically dealing with the unknown, and how that unknown would affect the students.” 

Maintaining a focus on care for the students and the campus community, there was the eminence of a truly caring physician leading the community during the time. Reflecting an ability to handle the unprecedented, Dr. Ordway reflected on his time helping manage and mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks on campus by explaining that “once you’ve dealt with something for a while, then you get into a little rhythm. It wasn’t too bad.”

With a career of dedicated physicianship, Dr. Ordway found that one of the most significant parts of his job was interacting with patients and being able to make a difference. “It’s sort of fun taking care of them,” he explained about caring for New Paltz students, “because you can interact with them very quickly, and they have their ideas and it makes it very interesting. The students are just smart, articulate, and that makes a fun patient.”