School Searches For Three Administrators

Searches are underway for three of the highest-ranking academic official positions at SUNY New Paltz.

Currently, the dean of the School of Education, the dean of the School of Science and Engineering and provost positions are being held by interim officials.

“The search committees are crafting position descriptions, criteria, qualifications and all of those important initial steps that search committees need to take for positions like this,” President Donald Christian said.

Earlier this year, Professor Daniel Freedman assumed the role of interim dean of Science and Engineering following Daniel Jelski’s departure after serving in this capacity for four years. Karen Bell, who served as an associate dean of her academic unit from 2003 to 2010, was appointed interim dean of the School of Education in December 2010. She succeeded Robert Michael, who retired after 37 years of work at SUNY New Paltz.

Dr. Cheryl Torsney was appointed interim provost for the 2011-12 academic year, filling now-President Donald Christian’s former seat.

College officials announced the names of search committee members in a campus-wide email sent on Nov. 8. While Christian said the students, faculty and staff charged with finding a provost would ideally decide to hire a candidate before the dean search groups select someone to fill those positions, he does not think that outcome is likely.

“In reality that would be difficult to pull off,” Christian said. “It would be reassuring, I think for someone who’s a finalist for the dean position to know who their boss would be. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that just because of timing.”

While there is no strict calendar in place for the search process, Christian said the provost search and dean searches will be filled “as quickly as we can.”

Aaron Isabelle, a professor in the Elementary Education department and the School of Education dean committee chair, said the group has put together an “extensive” list of desired qualities gathered from the School of Education faculty members and have narrowed down 12 to 15 qualities that will become the basis of the application screening criteria.

“We value a dean who has achieved a high level of stature in his/her field; has a record of highly effective educational administration; will effectively share leadership within the School of Education; and has the vision and skills necessary to generate external funding,” Isabelle said.

Dr. Richard Halpern, physics professor and chair of the School of Science and Engineering dean search, said his committee met on Dec. 6 and put together a search advertisement for the position that will be available to the public on the New Paltz website after it is approved by the Human Resources Department.

Freedman, who said he took the Science and Engineering dean position because he hoped to work on a number of “exciting and interesting” projects  – including the construction of the new science building on New Paltz’s eastern corner – said he would “probably” be submitting his application for a permanent role.

Torsney felt similarly and said she is “considering” putting herself in the running for the provost position beyond this year.

Christian said the goal is to have all three positions filled by the end of the summer.