NEW PALTZ – The SUNY New Paltz community celebrated the Inauguration of President Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler at an Investiture Ceremony on Thursday, April 20, attended by local, county and state officials, SUNY leadership, delegates from other institutions, and hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and community members.
The April 20 Investiture Ceremony, the first such event at New Paltz in more than a decade, served as a campuswide celebration of the history, mission and limitless potential of the University, and a ceremonial induction of President Wheeler’s tenure, which began July 18, 2022, after his predecessor, Dr. Donald P. Christian, retired from the role.
It featured remarks from family and former colleagues of President Wheeler, greetings from University partners and their delegates, an ROTC student color guard, international students carrying flags of their nations, music performances including a rendition of the alma mater “In a Valley Fair,” and a full Inaugural Address from the new leader of the University.
“When you ask me, ‘What is your vision for the institution?’ I could give you a vision in a heartbeat,” said President Wheeler in his Inaugural Address. “But it would be the vision for Darrell, not for SUNY New Paltz. I must be a steward of this institution, not an owner of this institution. I am committed, and this ceremony is a public acknowledgement of that commitment. Given this opportunity, who wouldn’t be elated to be this president, at this moment in time, with this group of well-wishers? I ask that as you leave this space, you continue to hold the joy of this moment, the pride that you have in this day. Keep us in your hearts, in your prayers, in your consultations, and wish us well into a bright and phenomenal future.”
New Paltz was honored to welcome many distinguished guests to attend the Investiture, march in the procession and offer remarks as members of the stage party. They included Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger, City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble, Town of New Paltz Supervisor Neil Bettez, Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, and Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Indians President Shannon Holsey.
SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Merryl H. Tisch and SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr., were on hand as well, with Chancellor King giving President Wheeler the formal charge of office.
“Darrell P. Wheeler, you have the most important privilege and responsibility of leading SUNY New Paltz to the fulfillment of its great promise as the premier public university in the Mid-Hudson Valley,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. “The Board of Trustees and I are confident that under your leadership, this institution, pursuing the highest traditions of teaching, scholarship and public service, will continue its dedication to student success and to the great State of New York, to the nation and to the world.”
Also offering remarks at the ceremony were three special guests with close personal relationships with President Wheeler: his sister, Carla, and former colleagues James R. Stellar, professor, former interim president and former provost at the University at Albany, and the Hon. Dorcey L. Applyrs, who currently serves as chief city auditor for the City of Albany, New York.
“My brother’s determination and resilience brought him to this milestone, and I have no doubt there will be bigger and brighter accomplishments to come,” said Carla Wheeler, sister to President Wheeler. “Darrell, as you continue your new journey, I ask that you respect and use your platform wisely. You made a difference and will continue to do so. You will change and touch so many lives and build a legacy that will shine forever.”
Another highlight was a moving performance of an original song by students Jennifer Poroye ’24 (Music), Cherian Abraham ’23 (English), and Sion Kikuchi ’24 (Music).
Devon Duhaney, associate professor and acting associate dean in the School of Education, presided over the ceremony as Master of Ceremonies, and Professor of History Michael Vargas served as Faculty Grand Marshal.
Other speakers at the program offered greetings on behalf of the SUNY New Paltz Council, SUNY New Paltz Foundation, the University faculty and staff, and more than 7,000 current students and more than 72,000 members of the SUNY New Paltz Alumni Association.
“As the President of the Student Association, I have had the pleasure of getting to know President Wheeler,” said Brianna Hicks ’23 (Black Studies). “Working with him to address issues that have affected the campus, as well as helping to cultivate an atmosphere of shared accountability and leadership among administrators and students, has been an enriching experience. We as a campus community have the benefit of an excellent leader who will bring forth the best of New Paltz, for generations to come.”
The Investiture Ceremony was the centerpiece of a three-day Inauguration program from April 19-21 that celebrates “Our University, Our Future” with a variety of community events and showcases for student scholarship, service and success.
Programs on April 19 were organized around “The Transformative Power of Public Higher Education” and included a student-faculty research forum and a festival featuring more than 40 student clubs and organizations.
The Inauguration will conclude on April 21 with a series of events considering “The Impact of SUNY New Paltz in the Region and Beyond.” Guests are welcome to a morning panel with regional leaders focusing on how the University can serve and support our communities from the local to the global level. The program ends with a farewell and appreciation brunch.