Wouldn’t the atrium be a lot harder to meet up in if it wasn’t there?
Well, it wasn’t.
For a long time.
When Vice President of Student Affairs L. David Rooney arrived in 2002, very few students thought of the Student Union (SUB) as a place to get a cup of coffee and hang out or sit and do homework for hours. At that time Elting Gym was the only athletic center and, by 2016 standards, we were two turf fields short. Not to mention, dormitories needed serious renovations and new partners to accommodate the growing student body.
His co-administrators at SUNY New Paltz said these are just a few of the many challenges Rooney took head on and can be proud of when he retires at the end of June. Rooney’s retirement, effective June 30, was announced in a university news story on April 8.
“I am grateful for Dave’s many valuable contributions to the quality of student life at SUNY New Paltz, to the overall welfare of the College and to public higher education for the last 38 years. We’re a much better institution than we were, thanks to his efforts,” President Donald P. Christian said. “We thank him for his continuing service in this position through June, and wish him well in his pursuits following his departure.”
Throughout his time here, Rooney has always been very supportive of his colleagues and staff as well as the students, according to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Linda Eaton.
“As a leader, Dr. Rooney is very supportive of wanting to help the people in his division grow and develop,” Eaton said. “He was very instrumental in driving forward the kind of facilities that students want.”
Eaton remembered how the SUB was so non-conducive to student interaction when Rooney was first hired and said it was his passion that really transformed it into what it is now. She added that Rooney has been a real proponent of programing efforts and working to ensure student affairs has the budget they need to improve students’ experience at the university.
“I came here for five to seven years, 14 years ago,” Rooney said. “I stayed because I liked the people, I like the area and I like the students. My goal was to leave the campus better than I found it and I hope people, believe I’ve accomplished that goal.”
Last week, many months of hard work and dedication paid off for our men’s volleyball team when they won the NCAA Div. III National Championship, the first in SUNY New Paltz History. Athletic Director Stuart Robinson said Rooney’s work to help build the Athletic and Wellness Center and push for program funding for athletics contributed to this victory “without a doubt.”
“He laid a strong foundation of understanding for people to realize what athletes can bring to the college,” Robinson said, recalling how Rooney’s commitment and presence in and around the athletic department made him an effective and helpful administrator.
Aside from improving leisure and sport facilities, Rooney had a hand in Residence Life as well by initiating the renovations to the Hasbrouck Quad dorms and providing great insight when the newest addition, Ridgeview Hall, was on it’s way up.
Director of Residence Life Corinna Caracci said Rooney played a crucial role in the many improvements that have been and are being made for students living on-campus, adding that the cafe and visiting faculty apartment in Ridgeview were two of his great ideas.
“I’m sad to see him go,” Caracci said. “He has been a mentor and a friend. In the end his legacy will live on through the work he has done here. He will be missed.”