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Stepping down

SUNY president trades up New Paltz for Carleton College

by Erin Quinn
April 29, 2010 03:18 PM | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steven Poskanzer.
Steven Poskanzer.
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SUNY New Paltz President Steven Poskanzer announced last Friday that he had accepted a post to become president of Carleton College, a liberal arts college in Northfield, Minn. He will be stepping down as president of SUNY New Paltz at the end of June.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will name an interim president and “consistent with SUNY policies, the College Council will conduct a national search,” to replace Poskanzer, read his prepared press release.

Poskanzer did not return inquiries from the New Paltz Times, as the college spokesperson Eric Gullickson said that with all of his various meetings in Albany, “he is simply unavailable.”

The soon-to-depart president rose from interim president to the take the helm of the SUNY school almost nine years ago after former President Roger Bowen left to become a museum director.

In his prepared press release he stated that “it will not be easy for me and my family to leave New Paltz.”

“In the almost nine years I’ve been privileged to work here, we’ve made enormous strides in improving this college’s academic quality, raising its public stature and positioning it for future success,” Poskanzer wrote. “In all of this it has been a special honor to build upon the many wise decisions of previous presidents, faculty and administrative leaders. I’m confident that the base we have built together will position New Paltz for greater achievement. I know I will watch with pride and interest from my new home in Minnesota as New Paltz continues to thrive.”

As for the SUNY bureaucrat, he said that the liberal arts college of Carleton -- which has approximately 2,000 students and ranks third among liberal arts colleges in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctorates -- was one that he “long admired … and the role it plays in American higher education,” and added that he “simply could not pass up this unparalleled opportunity.”

“New Paltz has been indeed fortunate to have Steven Poskanzer at the helm for nearly a decade, longer than is typical for a campus president,” said interim provost of the state university system, David Lavallee, who served as provost at New Paltz from 1999-2009. “It is a tribute to the campus, and his leadership, that he has been chosen to lead one of the top ten liberal arts colleges in the nation.”

President Poskanzer was named the seventh president of New Paltz in May 2003. He served as interim president between October 2001 and May 2003. Before arriving at New Paltz, President Poskanzer was vice provost of academic affairs at SUNY System Administration. He has a broad range of administrative experience at both public and private universities and colleges -- University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and the University of Chicago -- and is also a scholar of higher education law.

New Paltz Town Supervisor Toni Hokanson was a fan of Poskanzer’s and said that she would miss him and was saddened to learn of his departure.

“I’ve always had a great working relationship with Steve,” Hokanson said. “I think that he worked hard to improve communication with the college and the town to ensure a better quality of life for all of our residents. The college also took a leadership role in providing emergency shelter for our residents at their new Health and Wellness Center where they not only offered all New Paltz residents shelter -- which we’ve used every year that I’ve been supervisor -- but also food and had college students trained to deal with emergency situations.”

Hokanson said that she wished Poskanzer well and hoped his replacement would be someone “who also reached out to the community so that we can continue to work together for all of New Paltz.”

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