In a packed line leading to a service door of Shango Hall, parents, siblings and students waited last Thursday to bring loads of gear into the SUNY New Paltz dorm. Nearby a cluster of sorority girls from Sigma Delta Tau, giggling and talking amongst themselves, stood under the shade of a tree in a tight circle.
Throughout campus the scene played out much in the same way. Lamps, luggage, crates and cardboard were piled on lawns. Idling cars filled busy streets. Blue-curtained construction fencing separated work crews from the fresh concrete they’d presided over just weeks before.
All the activity signified an annual tradition: the occasion of Moving In Day 2012.
Lesley Slepian waited with other moms in a dorm parking lot across campus. She’d been up since 5 a.m. to get her whole family up for the long drive north from New York City. Her daughter Stephanie is the first of her children to attend college.
On the ride to campus, the family reminisced and talked about all the teachers, memories and experiences Stephanie had in the years preceding college. “It’s been a little emotional,” the proud mom said.
Dana Stuona, an incoming freshmen, saw a really busy campus around her as she unloaded the car with her family. “It’s pretty hectic,” she said.
The psychology major said she’d settled on SUNY New Paltz because of the artsy feel to the campus and surrounding town. “I really loved the campus. It had a lot of what I was looking for,” she said.
SUNY New Paltz had 1155 new freshmen of the Class of 2016 and 695 transfer students join its ranks last week.
The day following Moving In Day, faculty members and administrators gathered to listen to president Donald Christian’s State of the College Report. His speech touched on many themes already laid out in his inauguration address earlier in the summer. Christian painted a picture of a SUNY New Paltz emerging from the budgetary struggles that have plagued the institution for the past few years.
“We worked through a major budget reduction two years ago, lost faculty and staff positions through retirement and resignation, experienced a presidential transition and interim leadership in other key positions, endured a hurricane, a tropical storm, a freak snowstorm, a campus power outage, deficit reduction plans, and last year completed five major administrative searches,” the college president said. “I know that your patience and good will were tested by this upheaval, and I appreciate your steadfast commitment to our students, the college and our mission.”
One strategy for dealing with the uncertainty of the future, Christian advised, was to focus on quality at the college in terms both of instruction and of recruitment of good students. “The quality of our students matters very much to our future, and competition for the best and brightest will intensify as the number of high-school graduates declines. Top students are discerning about educational quality and offerings,” he said. “We must continue raising the bar on our educational quality to keep attracting top students and serving them well, and especially to increase the selectivity above that of the past four years.”
Of course, new students aren’t the only addition to the college for 2012-2013. Candidate searches for new talent have brought in five new administrators.
Philip Mauceri is the new provost and vice president for academic affairs, filling the job formerly held by Christian. Michael S. Rosenberg, formerly of Johns Hopkins University, is the new school of education dean. SUNY New Paltz’s Daniel Freedman is the new dean of the School of Science & Engineering, a job he’d held previously as interim dean. Mark Colvson is the new dean of the Sojourner Truth Library. Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, formerly from Vassar College’s human resources department, is the college’s first-ever executive director of compliance and campus climate.
For more about Moving In Day or to read Christian’s speech, head to www.newpaltz.edu.