Walk of Honor Ceremony Celebrates Alumni

Alumni gather as SUNY New Paltz staff members cut the ribbon for the Walk of Honor ceremony held over Alumni Weekend.

Attendees were able to have a brick engraved to an alumni of choice if they donated to the SUNY New Paltz Foundation.

Nostalgia was in the air as faculty, staff, family, friends and alumni gathered to commemorate SUNY New Paltz graduates, professors and others throughout the years.

The Walk of Honor opening ceremony and ribbon cutting was held Saturday, Oct. 14 near the sculpture “Large Hybrid,” by Richard Hunt. Speeches were given by Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the SUNY New Paltz Foundation Erica Marks, President Donald P. Christian and Vice President of Wealth Management for UBS Financial Services Bruce Orenstein.  

Created by the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, the Walk of Honor is a circular series of engraved bricks surrounding the sculpture. Engravings can be made out to anyone, but many are inscribed to alumni, professors and other SUNY New Paltz staff members.

Marks spoke about the importance of the installation.

“Its purpose is to celebrate and pay tribute to the many people who have passed through our doors,” she said. “It’s the first time the SUNY New Paltz Foundation has undertaken a tribute project on campus of this kind. The bricks represent a microcosm of the New Paltz family.”

For a $150 minimum donation to the foundation, one can have a brick engraved to a person of their choosing, including themselves. Donations go to the Fund for New Paltz, which is used to finance programs and activities for students. 

According to Marks, 587 bricks, or nearly $96,000, have been donated so far. New bricks will be installed on an annual basis every August, featuring bricks based on what has been donated that year through March. 535 of the 587 donated bricks were featured at the opening ceremony. 

Marks stated that there is not a limit to the number of engraved bricks that can be installed. Once the circle surrounding the sculpture has been filled, the Walk of Honor will extend out onto the connecting pathways.

Construction was overseen by architectural designer Michael Weatherly.

Julie Freestone, class of 1966, had a brick engraved for her ex-husband, Robert J. Maurer, class of 1965, who died last year. Freestone and Maurer were assistant editor and editor of The New Paltz Oracle, respectively, during their time as students.

“Being here, it’s a nice way to connect to the past,” she said. “Bob and I got married here when we were students. This was the first step into adulthood that we took. I think he would really appreciate having his name recognized here, this was his college.” 

Marks said the idea for the Walk of Honor came from Orenstein; whose name, along with his wife Sandi L. Orenstein, class of 1967, is engraved on one of the bricks. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of his graduation next year, Orenstein hoped the tribute would inspire the class of 1968 to give back to the college and its community, in turn inspiring future generations of alumni to give back as well.

“It turned out to be much more than I ever could have dreamed,” he said. “As long as money keeps getting raised for scholarships, the idea will continue to live on.”