New Paltz Praises 15th Distinguished Professor

Louis Roper, professor of history at SUNY New Paltz, has become the 15th New Paltz faculty member to earn the title of SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank in the State University of New York system. 

The following information was obtained in a University News Release published on March 29. The State University Board of Trustees names Distinguished Professors as a means of “honoring individuals who have achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation” within their fields. Roper is the first at the University since 2009 to achieve this award.

Since its induction in 1963, 1,130 faculty members have been honored in one of four specific categories: Distinguished Professorship, Distinguished Teaching Professorship, Distinguished Service Professorship and Distinguished Librarian. As members of the Distinguished Academy, these exceptional faculty function as role models and devote appropriate service to University-wide activities, both ceremonial and professional, such as offering lectures and seminars, informing curricular reform, improving the overall academic experience of students, mentoring junior faculty and leading inquiry into issues of importance to SUNY and society.

According to a recent faculty report, Roper is known as a passionate educator and generous colleague. He is also the author or editor of seven books, several peer-reviewed publications and invited presentations and is co-founder and editor of “The Journal of Early American History.” He is also a Fellow of the New York Academy of History and Yale’s Beinecke Library, and received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2015. Roper has also helped create new and influential venues for scholarship, editing collections, supporting and mentoring rising scholars in history and organizing global conferences.

“I wholeheartedly supported the campus committee’s recommendation of Lou for the Distinguished Professorship in recognition of his exceptional and innovative scholarship of early Atlantic history,” said President Donald P. Christian in the report.

Roper obtained a J.D. degree from SUNY Buffalo and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. His father, Don, preceded him as a history professor at SUNY New Paltz and his mother, Carol, served as a former New Paltz Town Supervisor. Roper became an Assistant Professor at SUNY New Paltz in 1995.

“I hope [this recognition] means that my work has earned esteem from colleagues working both on our campus and in the field of colonial American history,” Roper said. “It is very gratifying, in all seriousness, and I like to think of it as a collective recognition of our campus at least in part. After all, learning is a collaborative endeavor.”

Roper draws on connections with regional historic sites in order to create research and internship opportunities for students. He has also served stints as chair of the Department of History, chair of the College’s Central Committee on Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion and was a member of numerous search committees.