Dr. Donald P. Christian will be sworn in as SUNY New Paltz president

Former provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Donald P. Christian has served as interim president of SUNY New Paltz since Steven G. Poskanzer stepped down from the post of president in June 2010. But apparently the trustees of the college saw him as no mere placeholder, since the requisite national search for a replacement for Poskanzer turned up no candidate who made them happier than Christian himself. On Friday, April 13, Christian will finally get his official swearing-in as the eighth president of SUNY New Paltz since that institution transformed from the New Paltz Normal School to a full-fledged campus of the State University in 1944.

The actual inaugural ceremony will commence at 2:30 p.m. in the Studley Theatre in the Old Main Building. Christian will be handed the mace and chain of office designed in 1981 by professor Kurt J. Matzdorf, founder of the University Art Department’s renowned gold and silversmithing program.

The inauguration is a by-invitation-only event. But you can watch the proceedings live via remote webcast in Lecture Center 100 if you’re so inclined. The Multipurpose Room in the Student Union Building will host an open campus community reception immediately following the ceremony.

Other festivities are planned for the SUNY campus throughout the week. Beginning this Saturday, April 7 and running until the following Sunday, April 15, a special exhibit and timeline of “The History of the Office of the President” will be on display at the Sojourner Truth Library. Hours are 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

On Thursday, April 12 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., an exhibit highlighting the research and creative activity of SUNY New Paltz students and their faculty mentors called “New Paltz Showcase” will be on display in the lobby of the Lecture Center. Then, at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 100, Debra Humphreys, vice president for Communications and Public Affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, will give a presentation on a topic that must seem very timely for liberal arts students during a time of frighteningly high rates of unemployment: “Liberal Education and the 21st-Century Global Economy.”

A faculty panel discussion will follow. Anita Gonzalez, associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, and Tom Meyer, associate professor of Secondary Education, will address “Global Learning”; Mary Christensen, associate professor of French and chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and Kristine Harris, associate professor of History and director of the Asian Studies Program, will cover “Interdisciplinary Learning”; and Megan Ferguson, assistant professor of Chemistry, Mette Christiansen, Licensed Master Social Worker and Eve Waltermaurer, associate professor and director of the criminology concentration in the Department of Sociology, will discuss “Academic Service Learning.”

On Friday the 13th, the auspicious day of the actual inauguration, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art will be open for special extended hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 14 will feature the only associated events with a ticket price: A benefit concert featuring internationally renowned pianist Vladimir Feltsman will begin at 4 p.m. in the Studley Theatre. A patrons’ reception will follow at 6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room in the Student Union Building. Tickets to the concert only cost $40 each, and patron tickets including the reception as well go for $80. Funds raised at this event will be used to support music, theatre, artistic and other cultural events and activities that enrich the experience of students. Supporters of SUNY New Paltz are being asked to consider sending a student to hear Feltsman perform at the benefit concert by purchasing an extra ticket. Your donation will be tax-deductible, unless you choose to name the particular student whom you would like to sponsor. Tickets for both events can be purchased from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Parker Theatre box office.

The week of presidential hoopla ends on a more proletarian note, as the Residence Hall Student Association hosts a student barbecue and carnival in the Hasbrouck Quad from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 15. Eats are free to all who subscribe to the student meal plan. In the event of foul weather, the party will move indoors to the Hasbrouck Dining Hall. ++