President Christian To Be Inaugurated In April

President Donald Christian

President Donald Christian will be officially inaugurated as SUNY New Paltz’s eighth president on Friday, April 13 after taking over the role last June.

As part of a week of campus events and lectures, Christian will give his inaugural speech at a  ceremony in Studley Theatre which will be webcasted in Lecture Center 100 for the public.

“I have some text in my inaugural address that reminds all of us that inaugurations are not really about the person that is being appointed as president,” Christian said. “They’re celebrating the continued life of a college or university and kind of reaffirming all of our educational commitments.”

After initial planning for the ceremony was halted by the severe weather caused by Hurricane Irene last semester, Christian said administrators decided to push back the inauguration.

“It’s not unusual,” Chief of Staff Shelly Wright said. “[Former President] Steven Poskanzer was appointed in May and his inauguration wasn’t until the following April.”

The ceremonial week will be kicked off by a student leader reception on Wednesday evening, where 75 students will be in attendance at the president’s residence, Christian said.

The fifth annual Campus Cleanup Day will also take place on Wednesday to “create the best impression we can,” Christian said.

On Thursday, April 12, Debra Humphreys, vice president for communications and public affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, will speak as this semester’s choice for the “Distinguished Speakers Series” and highlight key points of Christian’s speech.

“Her and I worked very closely when I was in Wisconsin on a campaign LEAP (Liberal Education in America’s Promise) advocating for liberal education in 21st century,” Christian said.  “It will be great to have a colleague who I’ve worked with so much and give a presentation.”

Following Humphreys’ speech, a faculty panel will extrapolate on the themes she brings up, answering questions regarding how her philosophies will be carried out on the New Paltz campus.

On Saturday, April 14, pianist Vladimir Feltsman will host a benefit concert at 4 p.m. in Studley Theatre. Feltsman grew up in the Soviet Union and experienced political suppression before he came to SUNY New Paltz in 1987, Christian said.

The donations garnered from the concert will be used to establish a fund supporting student participation in cultural events on campus whether they be artistic, theatrical or musical endeavors, Christian said.

Christian said his overall inauguration speech will focus on what he hopes to accomplish during his time on campus while putting that into a national context of issues facing public higher education.

“A theme that will emerge there is my sense that we need to sharpen even more than we have already our focus on the student experience and enhancing the educational opportunities for students,” Christian said.