Dr. Darrell Wheeler Announced to be Next SUNY New Paltz President

On May 3, Dr. Wheeler was welcomed to campus alongside his husband, Donovan Howard, and LaBreda Howard, his daughter.

After a long and rigorous selection process, State University of New York Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley has announced that the SUNY Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler as President of SUNY New Paltz, effective July 18. 

“This is an opportunity for a kid, K-through-12 Public Schools, Southside of Chicago, who was told at the third-grade Parent Teacher council meeting, I was not a viable collegiate option. This is possibly an opportunity for me to show through example, through moral character through energized engagement and through real outcomes, that maybe just maybe that prognostication was a tad bit off,” said Wheeler directly after the unanimous decision was made. 

In his six-page introduction letter, Dr. Wheeler highlights his many accomplishments, including a plethora of awards, presentations, panels, grants, academic reviews, articles in peer-reviewed journals and much more. 

“Here, I will highlight key elements of my preparedness to take on these important roles for collaborative and transformational leadership and institutional stewardship during times of significant academic industry and global changes. I hope that after reviewing these materials you will continue to manifest interest in my candidacy,” reads the opening page of his letter of introduction.

“Dr. Wheeler impressed us with his genuine interest in New Paltz and our success as a high-quality public university that advances the social mobility of our diverse student population who then become engaged citizens making their communities and our society a better place,” said Eli Basch, interim chair of the SUNY New Paltz College Council and Ronald Law, SUNY New Paltz Class of 1974, longtime member of the SUNY New Paltz College Council and SUNY New Paltz Presidential Search Committee chair. 

“We observed Dr. Wheeler’s keen listening skills and thoughtful and informed responses to our questions, his positive energy and ability to achieve results through leveraging data and building consensus, and the high caliber and success of his academic and administrative accomplishments throughout his impressive career,” said Basch and Law. 

“We were moved by his personal story and his more than 30 years of research and community partnership in healthcare disparities for Black men that has earned him a national reputation and a seat on the US President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He is the right choice to take an already strong SUNY New Paltz to the next level of excellence.”

Dr. Wheeler obtained his Ph.D. in Social Work and M.P.H. in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh, his M.S.W. in health/mental health from Howard University and his B.A. in sociology from Cornell College.

Dr. Wheeler has launched, promoted academic programs and continued education programs in health aging, child welfare, public health, social work, practice nursing, health sciences, entrepreneurship and criminal justice. 

“We are impressed with Dr. Wheeler’s abilities and spirit, and all of us believe he will be a great leader for SUNY New Paltz,” said SUNY Board Trustee James F. Haddon. “His extensive time dedicated to addressing healthcare disparities for minority groups, serving on the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and creating foster care mentoring programs clearly demonstrates his passion for equity and inclusion. His commitment to improving higher education, along with his history of advocacy, has us anticipating seeing his unique lens unfold at SUNY New Paltz. Our congratulations to Dr. Wheeler and the SUNY New Paltz community.”

Aside from his role in the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council, Dr. Wheeler is on the Executive Management Committee of the HIV Prevention Trials Network, co-chairs the HIV Prevention Trial Networks HPTN Scholars Program and is on the Board of Directors for the NASW Assurance Services Incorporated.

“Dr. Wheeler is not just an exceptional leader, but has dedicated over three decades of his career to tackling inequities within healthcare and education, ultimately providing a much-needed voice to the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. 

Previously, he has served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Iona College, the Dean of the School of Social Welfare and Vice President for Public Engagement at the University at Albany, Dean for the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago and has held academic positions at Hunter College, CUNY, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“Throughout the several months of the search process, I heard several times ‘SUNY New Paltz’ is a special place. In this process, I’ve deepened my still evolving understanding of the many ways that this is absolutely true. The work being done at SUNY New Paltz in its five colleges graduate and interdisciplinary programs, showcases what a public institution can be, and must be for students, employees and community members near and far,” Dr. Wheeler said when accepting his new position. 

“I’m deeply honored to stand here today. I’m humbled by this lifetime opportunity. And I’m appropriately mindful of the many known and unknown challenges that will face me following in the footsteps of Dr. Donald Christian and those presidents who preceded him, their diligence, their stewardship.”

“Dr. Wheeler brings an impressive array of experiences and achievements to this new role. I am pleased and excited to be passing the leadership baton to him.  During my interview with him, I was impressed that he thinks ‘presidentially’ even as he will be new to the role.  I will do everything I can to support his success – including as he pursues new initiatives and directions needed for the success of the College in a dramatically changing higher education world,” said retiring President Dr. Donald P. Christian.

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About Zoe Woolrich 57 Articles
Zoe Woolrich (she/her) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oracle. Over the past five semesters she has served as Copy Editor, News Editor and Managing Editor. She is fourth-year media management major from New York City. You can contact her at woolricz1@newpaltz.edu.