Suitcases, cardboard boxes and many, many plastic storage containers and crates holding a school year’s worth of clothing and personal belongings were carried and carted into 14 residence halls throughout SUNY New Paltz last Thursday, August 20. Trashcans on campus, filling up fast with empty boxes that had just packaged desk lamps and other dorm room gear, told the story of freshman Moving In Day. Parents who just months ago were at their child’s high school graduation ceremony found themselves on the SUNY campus escorting those recent high school grads to the next level of their education before going home to, if not an empty nest, an emptier one.
Welcoming upperclassmen wearing t-shirts in the college colors of orange and blue lined the perimeters of the campus at the entrances to the parking lots, waving a cheery greeting to all entering families. A blue t-shirted college president Donald Christian was on hand outside Esopus Hall — appropriately dressed to assist with the move-in process — even carrying boxes upstairs for his newest charges. And nothing says ‘welcome’ like the free lunch served inside the Welcome Center opposite the Student Union building, which offered the families a buffet of pizza, sandwiches, hot entrees and baked goods, all donated by local area eateries.
Parent Kim Ruggiero waited in the hot sun outside a residence hall as her daughter, incoming freshman student Noelle Salzarulo, took care of some moving-in business inside. Ruggiero was accompanied by Noelle’s great-aunt, Joan Pizzuti. The two said that Moving In Day had been uneventful so far; a smooth transition with the upperclassmen students very helpful in the process. “It’s exciting for me,” said Pizzuti, a sentiment seconded by Ruggiero. “I’m excited for her, but I’ll miss her,” she said, noting that her daughter graduated from Pleasantville High School in Westchester with honors and that Noelle was accepted by all eight of the schools she applied to — which included Hofstra and Fordham universities — before deciding on SUNY New Paltz.
Exiting the residence hall, Noelle discussed her study plan for the coming years, indicating her main interests are in art, history and literature. She was one of approximately 1,100 first-year students who moved in Thursday, with just a few days to get settled into their new surroundings before another 700 transfer students joined them for the start of classes on Monday, August 24. In addition, the college anticipates approximately 500 new and returning international students from 23 countries to join the campus community this fall. This year marks the 26th consecutive year New Paltz had more applications for undergraduate admission — 17,720 — than any other SUNY college.
Something new for students at SUNY New Paltz this year is the opportunity to receive an official “co-curricular” transcript to display their participation and achievements outside the classroom. Offered as a supplement to the academic transcript, the student-initiated record was conceived of as a way to give students a competitive edge when applying for jobs or graduate programs. “Employers and graduate schools want candidates who are well-rounded and have demonstrated that they are actively engaged in leadership roles, their community and that they’re volunteering and taking advantage of experiential experiences,” said Linda Eaton, associate vice president for student affairs. “The co-curricular transcript gives students an official place to highlight their accomplishments outside of the classroom in addition to their academic transcript and resumé.”
The transcript will be validated by academic and professional faculty at the college. It will reflect co-curricular activities and learned skills relating to academics, campus committee membership, community service, honors and awards, leadership activities and participation in student government and organizations.
And the program can be used as a search engine should students wish to acquire particular skills. Entering the words “public speaking” into the program, for example, would generate all of the opportunities where that skill can be gained. “It’s a valuable asset for students,” said Eaton.
Other news on campus includes the launch of the Center for Innovation in Education at New Paltz (CIE@NP), one of four SUNY-wide innovation centers that will offer an array of teacher training services. The CIE@NP will function as the program’s downstate hub, supporting education throughout the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island.
The 2015-16 academic year will also see the continuation of the Digital Design and Fabrication (DDF) certificate program that combines instruction in 3D printing and computational media with an emphasis on artful design. The program began in fall 2013, drawing on the resources of the MakerBot Innovation Center and the expertise of its staff to help students prepare for careers that incorporate 3D printing. The second cohort of seven students completed the four-course certificate in May of 2015.
Because of the technology’s popularity, the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) and the MakerBot Innovation Center on site have moved to a larger space on campus — the former Black Box Theatre in the Smiley Arts Building — until the new Engineering Innovation Hub is built, scheduled to open in 2019 assisted by state funding secured through Senator John Bonacic. The Black Box Theatre will move to the van den Berg Annex.