Search for the Next President of New Paltz Continues

Search for the Next President of New Paltz Continues
SUNY New Paltz’s current president Donald Christian has announced that he will retire after holding the position for nearly a decade.

President Christian began his journey at New Paltz in the 2009-2010 academic year when he served as Vice President of Academic Affairs. President Christian served as interim president during the academic year 2010-2011, and became the President of SUNY New Paltz in 2012.

During President Christian’s tenure, many programs began to thrive, such as the 3D printing program in the art department – who partnered with the digital design and fabrication programs to create the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center. During the pandemic, the center created more than 24,000 face shields to help meet the demand of personal protective equipment and is now working with an Orange County firm to transform medical images to 3D models to help surgeons visualize and plan their surgeries. 

As his time in office comes to an end, President Christian is hopeful that New Paltz will find a president with the right attributes to continue to drive the school forward in a positive manner.

“My primary role will be to showcase for candidates at the right time what we’ve achieved over the last several years, and why this would be a great place for an excellent next president to come,” President Christian said. “This past August, I spoke about a lot of our collective achievements over the last dozen years that really position the college well for success in the future and for attracting a great next president.”

The decision is not being made solely by officials in the school. Students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to attend a Zoom meeting on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 to make their voices heard. Additionally, anyone was welcome to submit an anonymous form with their hopes of what the new president would accomplish.

“We encourage anyone who has not yet done so to take a few moments to share their thoughts and priorities in this short survey. Your responses are anonymous,” an email sent to students read.

The first round of student surveys was due on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Responses were compiled by Zulaika Rodriguez, SUNY’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Presidential Recruitment, Evaluation and Development as well as SUNY New Paltz’s Search Liaison. 

Currently, New Paltz is in the process of creating the search committee – a committee of colleagues who were nominated and voted on to be a member of the board to help decide who the next president will be.

An application will hopefully be available to fill out to the public by the end of the month according to Shelly Wright, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Communication. After the search committee narrows down applicants to a group of semi-finalists, remote interviews will be held to narrow the group down to five finalists. Those five finalists will then be brought to campus where they will go through the final stages of the hiring process.

The entire process is expected to take months before any finalists are declared. 

“What are the challenges and opportunities we face? What kind of qualities do we want in an ex president? What are some of the things that we would like to see change over the next five years? How would our campus be different in five years than it is today?” Wright said.  “All students have the ability to fill out the survey, asking those same kinds of questions– and those survey results will go to the search committee… As they start to review applications, it’s the committee’s job to represent the interests of the community, and to look for those qualities in the candidates.”

If students missed the first round of surveys, there will be more opportunities in the spring for their voice to be heard.

“There will be public sessions with students for final candidates,” Wright said. “This would give students an opportunity to talk about the New Paltz experience… Our job as a campus is to try to attract the best leader for our campus.”

With all the success President Christian had serving as president, he remains optimistic about the future of the school.

“We have a job to kind of recruit those people who want to come in here, as President Christian said,” Wright said. “My experience has been when candidates meet our students, they get really excited about the opportunity, as they are really wowed by our students. I think that’s going to be an important opportunity for students, but also important for the candidates to hear from our students.”

“We have to think about what’s the what’s the right precedent, to leave the institution, now in during the next five years… the kinds of attributes that I brought to the position these last dozen years may not be the right attributes for the next leader to lead the campus for the next five years, or seven years or 10 years. The community can judge that certainly better than I can,” President Christian said.

Information will be released to the SUNY New Paltz website as it develops. Students should keep an eye on their email to keep track of any new information coming from the President’s office.

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About Kyra Russo 43 Articles
Kyra Russo (she/her) is a third-year journalism major from East Greenbush, New York. She spent two and a half semesters as a Copy Editor and is now the Managing Editor. Besides the newspaper, she is on the women’s soccer team at SUNY New Paltz and participates in the Rising Hawks leadership program. You can reach her by emailing russok5@newpaltz.edu.