Dr. Lorin Basden Arnold, the newly-appointed provost of SUNY New Paltz, sits across from me in an armchair in her eighth-floor office in Haggerty Administration Building. A three-time Purdue University graduate and self-proclaimed lover of learning, Arnold is an experienced academic and a strikingly intellectual person. She chooses her words with care, sharing her excitement about her new position at SUNY New Paltz.
Arnold served as the dean of the College of Communication and Creative Arts at Rowan University, a small public college, for seven and a half years.
“It just felt like it was time for me to move on,” Arnold said. “I was ready for a new challenge.”
Arnold assumed her post as provost of SUNY New Paltz during the summer of 2016. Her new job entails being a liaison between the deans of the college’s academic departments and co-curricular areas and the higher-ups in the college’s administration.
“I see myself as simultaneously having oversight and being the voice of those units to the [administrative] cabinet, and then in the other direction,” she said. “I’m sort of in the middle of this flow of communication.”
Arnold’s role in SUNY New Paltz’s administration is something she finds interesting as an interpersonal and organizational communications scholar. At Purdue, Arnold studied communications and personal relations up to the doctoral level, and much of her academic writing and research focused on a “neglected” area of interpersonal communications research: mothering and motherhood.
As a mother of six, Arnold found it fascinating that much of the communications research about motherhood and mothering was conducted in terms of how the choices a mother makes affect her children. Arnold took her academic research in a different direction, investigating “the experience of mothering, how we culturally talk about what being a mother looks like and who gets to count as a mother.”
“Nobody was really researching mothers as people,” Arnold said. “It was all about, ‘what are they doing wrong, and how does that hurt their kids?’ But now, the field is starting to grow.”
A vegan of 12 years, a certified yoga instructor and a certified nutrition counselor, Arnold never stopped learning, and she has no plans to quit anytime soon. She’s even taken up learning Mandarin, which she admits has taken a back seat since she came to SUNY New Paltz. Arnold’s transition has been a learning process in and of itself, she said, but it’s one she’s excited to begin.
“I’m a believer in lifelong learning,” she said.
As the fall 2016 semester unfolds, Arnold is excited to meet and interact with students on campus. During her interview process, Arnold saw how enthusiastic students were about being a part of the campus community, she said. The provost hopes to carry that excitement with her as she settles into her new position.
“When I came up here for my interview, it just felt so familiar in all the good ways,” she said. “Everyone was so warm. And I loved the students that I met.”
Of course, the change of scenery doesn’t hurt, either. The new position brought Arnold and her family from New Jersey, where Rowan University is located and Arnold’s in-laws live, to New York’s Hudson Valley, SUNY New Paltz’s sprawling, mountainous backdrop.
Arnold sums it up best: “You can’t get much better than this,” she said with a smile, gesturing outside the windows of her corner office to an expansive view of the Shawangunk Mountains.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Rowan University was a private institution. The article has been updated to accurately reflect that the university is public.