SUNY New Paltz council recommends new names for college buildings

The buildings that make up the Hasbrouck Complex at SUNY New Paltz (photo provided)

The SUNY New Paltz College Council today unanimously passed a resolution to assign new names to Hasbrouck Complex buildings.

The next steps of this process will include the development of a single resolution to remove current names and assign new ones to these buildings, which will go to the SUNY Board of Trustees for review.


“We will make every effort to bring this matter to the board as early as possible, hopefully this spring,” President Donald Christian said.

The selected names carry local meaning, a theme that drew strong support in a campus-wide survey. The approved names, local geographic significance, and origin, are:

  • Shawangunk Hall: Pronounced “SHON-gum,” this hall is named for the Shawangunk Ridge visible from campus. The meaning is translated from the local indigenous Munsee Lenape as “in the smoky air.”
  • Awosting Hall: Named after one of the “sky” lakes on the Shawangunk Ridge, “Awosting” is adapted from the Native American (Munsee) word, Aiaskawosting, “place of grassy hills.”
  • Minnewaska Hall: Named after another sky lake on the Ridge, “Minnewaska” derives from the combination of two Dakota or Sioux words, mini or mine (for many) and washta or waska (for water).
  • Mohonk Hall: Named after another sky lake on the Ridge adjacent to Mohonk Mountain House, a 150-year old resort owned by the Smiley family. “Mohonk” is derived from the Delaware Indian word Mogonck, which some believe to mean “lake in the sky.”
  • Ashokan Hall: This name is derived from an Iroquois word for “place of fish.” From 1967-2008 the Ashokan Field Campus, an outdoor education, conference and retreat center located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, was part of SUNY New Paltz. It is now the Ashokan Center operated by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, folk musicians who in 1982 wrote and composed “Ashokan Farewell,” a farewell waltz featured in the PBS miniseries “The Civil War,” produced by Ken Burns. Ashokan is also the name of the nearby reservoir that supplies water to New York City.
  • Peregrine Dining Hall: Named for the Peregrine falcons that soar above the Ridge and the local sky lakes. The population of these birds has rebounded after facing near-extinction; thus the Peregrine has local significance as a symbol of resiliency and hope. Peregrine also refers to a wanderer from foreign lands, and our campus has always welcomed students regardless of their origins.

The Council selected these names from a list recommend by a study group of College Council members, faculty, staff, students, alumni and a Historic Huguenot Street Board member. The study group drew on survey responses from more than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, including Huguenot descendants, in arriving at their recommendations.

“I am grateful to the study group for their thoughtful efforts in this process, and to those who provided thoughtful input on the survey that informed their work,” said President Christian. “The recommendation to have the names reflect our local beauty is most fitting.”

Passage of this resolution follows the College Council’s Feb. 21 approval of the resolution to change the names of six campus buildings (Bevier Hall, Crispell Hall, Deyo Hall, DuBois Hall, Hasbrouck Dining Hall and Lefevre Hall), named for original Huguenot patentees of the Village of New Paltz who also owned enslaved people.

Facilities Operations staff have begun working with campus administration to begin addressing infrastructure issues that will be affected by building name changes. This includes updating fire safety systems, 911 addresses, room inventories and other databases, and considering the impact on campus tours, the mailroom and the Department of Residence Life.

There are 4 comments

  1. Firannion

    How long, I wonder, will it take before students begin referring to the dining hall as the Pippin?

  2. npz conservative

    First Name Should Be: “Stupidity”

    Second: “Ridiculous”

    3rd: “Far Left Liberal idiocy”

    4th: ” Dot Rename Buildings, History Cant Be Reversed”

    1. Michelle B

      Let’s just erase all of our country’s history.

      As someone who’s lived in New Paltz for 60 years and went to SUNY New Paltz, all of these recent name changes truly disturb me.

      Also, I will still refer to the bridges as the Tappan Zee, the Bear Mountain, the Kingston-Rhinecliff and the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

      This is not progress.

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