NEW PALTZ – SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian announced his intention to retire at the end of June 2022, after a 45-year career in higher education and 12 years as president. Christian was appointed as the College’s eighth president in 2011 after serving as interim president in 2010-11, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at New Paltz in 2009-2010.
During the remainder of his tenure, Christian’s focus will be to position SUNY New Paltz for continuing success in a dramatically changing higher education world and to set the stage for the next president’s entry and success. Work will include ongoing planning for a post-pandemic future, additional progress on diversity and inclusion and anti-racist initiatives, and guiding campus leaders through the presidential transition.
During the 2021-22 academic year, a search will be conducted for Christian’s replacement consistent with the SUNY-wide Presidential Search Guidelines.
Christian’s 12-year presidency is marked by many collective accomplishments. Through his leadership, the College’s reputation as a top-tier public institution has grown both statewide and nationally. The College competes successfully for strong students with excellent public and private colleges and universities across the Northeast. The College has been recognized for high retention and graduation of students from historically underrepresented groups as well as first-generation and low-income students, with rates well above state and national averages for both public and private institutions. Additionally, the College continues to rank in the top 3% of colleges and universities in a nationwide index of upward socioeconomic mobility of our graduates and is nationally recognized for its support of veteran and military-affiliated students.
Christian has been a strong advocate for the value of a liberal education tailored to 21st century needs, for study abroad and student research experiences, and for the great breadth of disciplines and majors at New Paltz. Christian has supported the rapid growth of STEM enrollments and the development of additive manufacturing and 3D printing at the College, including securing millions in state and private funding to provide equipment and build a new Engineering Innovation Hub on campus. He has worked to expand and strengthen programs and opportunities for students from underrepresented groups, and to increase the College’s focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of SUNY New Paltz and to have had such a long and rewarding tenure in this role,” said President Donald P. Christian. “I am pleased and proud of the collective accomplishments of this community during the last 11 years and look forward to what we can achieve in the coming year. Amid budget challenges and more recently a worldwide pandemic that tested all our abilities and stamina, this community and each individual student and employee, has persevered and excelled through it all. The quintessential SUNY New Paltz community spirit I have come to respect and cherish has been especially apparent this past year. I wish for my successor the same warmth and acceptance that Sandy and I received from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters of this top-tier public university.”
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “One of my first campus visits after being appointed as chancellor was to see President Don Christian. I have always admired his thoughtful, inclusive, and calm leadership no matter the situation. It is his collaborative nature that may be most valued over the years. Don does not work in a silo—he is present, always listening, and always questioning if the best laid out plans hold up in practice. His coming retirement will leave a giant hole in the SUNY family.”
Interim College Council Chair Eli Basch of Kingston, New York, said: “Over many years of working with President Christian, I have observed first-hand his extraordinary dedication to SUNY New Paltz and its students, faculty and staff. He always ensures the needs of this community foremost, and takes time to listen to diverse perspectives before making difficult decisions, as he did consistently in helping the College adroitly navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. President Christian’s leadership over more than a decade has also helped forge many new partnerships with community organizations and businesses, which have expanded and solidified SUNY New Paltz’s vital role as an engine of the Hudson Valley economy. It’s been a great pleasure to work with him and his leadership team, and I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”