Academic year kicks off with ambitious goals, a new strategic plan, and a call to connect

September 3, 2013
President Donald Chrisitan talks to faculty, staff, and administrators about "connecting."

President Donald Chrisitan talks to faculty, staff, and administrators about “connecting.”

“Only connect” was a central theme of President Donald Christian’s annual State of the College Address to faculty, staff, and administrators on the morning of Friday, Aug. 23.

“Helping our students connect … is a simple concept. But it is a powerful and unifying way for us to view our educational purpose,” he said. “The admonition ‘only connect’ is also a good directive for us – this college community – about how to come together to move a great college into the future and make it even better,” he said. The phrase ‘only connect’ was inspired by the author E.M. Forester and used in an essay by William Cronon, professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Christian spoke with pride about New Paltz’s growing reputation, discussed several accomplishments of the past year, and presented goals for the coming year. He reported on the successful completion of a strategic plan for the college, which will guide its priorities for the next five years. He described how the strategic plan will help to uphold the college’s mission of serving students by “making their liberal education practical and their practical education liberal.” He stated, “‘Only connecting’ is a way for us to overcome silos to the betterment of our students, and our institution.”

The address can be read in its entirety here.

Later in the day, a talented and diverse group of 1,134 first-year students were welcomed to the College at the Fall Convocation ceremony. The Class of 2017 was addressed by President Christian, Provost Philip Mauceri, and Professor Jack Wade, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts.

The title of Wade’s featured address was “Humility, Industry and A Willingness to Learn.” According to Wade, “These are the key fundamentals of an acting approach developed by the iconoclastic actor, director and teacher, Jasper Deeter. He called them the three-legged stool upon which the theatre artist balances.” He closed his speech with these sound words of advice: “Take away one of the legs and you may be able to balance precariously, but strengthen and intertwine all three and you’ll find yourself grounded, sustained, and mentally agile both here at New Paltz and on your journey through life.”

New Paltz’s first-year students are, again, an academically strong group, with an average high school GPA of 92.5. For the 24th consecutive year, New Paltz had more applications for admission (13,430) than any other SUNY comprehensive college. Approximately 310 international students from 65 countries, will attend the College this year. They come principally to study the fine arts, business, computer science, and electrical engineering.

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