The State University of New York at New Paltz, known as SUNY New Paltz for short, is a public university in New Paltz, New York. It was founded in 1828 as the School for teaching of classics. In 1885, the New Paltz Normal and Training School was established as a school to prepare teachers for the public schools of New York State. In the 1980s, it was called State University of New York College of Arts and Science New Paltz. It has been called the State University of New York at New Paltz since 1994.
In 1885, the academy offered their building if the State of New York would start a normal school. It was granted the ability to award baccalaureate degrees in 1942, when it was renamed the State Teachers College at New Paltz. A few years later, in 1947, a graduate program was established. When the State University of New York was established by legislative act in 1948, the Teachers College at New Paltz was one of 30 colleges associated under SUNY's umbrella. The school is well-known for many programs, including The Legislative Gazette, a journalism and political science internship in which students live/work in the state capitol and produce a weekly newspaper about state politics. The program launched in 1978 -- and was almost kicked out of Albany -- but somehow survived and grew into an influential newspaper read by nearly everyone involved in New York state government.
There were several student-led protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily against the Vietnam War. In the spring of 1967, a sit in protesting against army recruiting on campus blocked the entrance to the Student Union for two days. While there were scores of demonstrators the first day, all but 13 dispersed before State Troopers arrived and bodily carried the demonstrators to a waiting school bus for a trip to court.
In the Fall of 1968, students rallied in support of Craig Pastor (now Craig DeYong) who had been arrested by New Paltz Village Police for desecration of the American flag which he was wearing as a super-hero cape in a student film directed by Edward Falco. College President John J. Neumaier posted bail. Pastor was released and charges were dropped. In the spring of 1970 there was a protest leading to the takeover of the Administration Building.
In 1981, the Student Government split in two, the main part staying as the Student Association, and an on-campus faction forming the Residence Hall Student Association. There were many protests in the early 1980s during the administration of college president Alice Chandler, including for the right to vote in local elections. An invitation to a South African diplomat during the Apartheid era, by the student group Model United Nations, sparked another controversy. .
On December 29, 1991, the campus was the scene of a widely-reported PCB and dioxin incident that contaminated four dormitories (Bliss, Gage, Capen and Scudder residence halls), as well as the Coykendall Science Building and the Parker Theater. Under the direction of the county and state health departments, the university began a massive, thorough clean-up effort in the five buildings: Bliss, Gage and Scudder residence halls, Parker Theatre and Coykendall Science Building. As an additional precaution, 29 other buildings were thoroughly tested and, if necessary, cleaned. The clean-up process lasted until May 1995. Concerns about this incident have been covered in New York Times articles by Michael Winerip, as well as investigative reporting in Woodstock Times and Sierra magazine by Eric F. Coppolino.
In November 1997, two events on campus attracted nationwide media attention. The first, a feminist conference on sex and sexuality sponsored by the women's studies department entitled "Revolting Behavior: The Challenges of Women's Sexual Freedom", featured instructional workshops on sex toys and sadomasochism. The second, "Subject to Desire: Refiguring the Body", was sponsored by the Fine and Performing Arts Department. One presenter, performance artist Carolee Schneemann, had been known for a piece where she slowly unrolled a scroll from her vagina and read it to the audience.
Political conservatives were outraged that a public university had hosted such events, and governor George Pataki and SUNY chancellor Robert King expressed their displeasure. The controversy escalated when the Theatre Arts Department staged The Vagina Monologues shortly afterwards (although the play has been widely staged, including at some nearby Catholic colleges). The college's then-president, Roger Bowen, defended freedom of expression on campus and refused to apologize, doing little to allay conservative ire. "The real issue," he said, "is whether some ideologues, however well-intentioned, have the right to dictate what we say and what we do on this campus." SUNY trustee Candace de Russy called for him to be dismissed. Bowen later resigned.
In 2006, New Paltz became embroiled in a controversy involving Student Government President Justin Holmes, former President and Executive-Vice President R.J. Partington III, and former New Paltz Student, President of the SUNY Student Assembly and member of the SUNY Board of Trustees Dan Curtis. The three students were suspended from the University for a year after a committee found that they had "seriously annoyed the Residence Life Director, although a video showed some claims may have been erroneous. Federal Judge Lawrence Kahn ordered Poskanzer and Rooney to reinstate Holmes and Partington on January 4, 2007. In February, 2008, Judge Kahn concluded that the students failed to make sufficient factual allegations with regards to their due process or retaliation claim and the case was dismissed.
In 2008 New Paltz received 13,868 applications for the fall and accepted 35%. However, the yield rating was 24% unlike past years of 21% causing an unexpected 1,300 new students to join the New Paltz class body. The incoming Freshman had an average high school GPA of 90 and a mean SAT score of 1160.
There once was a satellite campus at Ashokan, New York, consisting of another , located near Woodstock, New York. In 2008 it was sold by Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) to the Open Space Conservancy (OSC). Ashokan was made famous by the song Ashokan Farewell on the soundtrack of the PBS documentary, The Civil War by Ken Burns.
The college was also recently ranked 8th among the best public universities and 40th among public and private universities in the North that offer bachelor's and master's degree programs, according to the U.S. News & World Report's rankings for America's Best Colleges 2009.
New Paltz was named one of the best 222 colleges in the northeast by the Princeton Review in 2006.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranked New Paltz as one of the 100 best values among public colleges and universities in the nation.
SUNY at New Paltz currently offers bachelor's and master's degrees, with over 100 undergraduate and 50 graduate degree programs. Currently, almost 8,000 students attend SUNY at New Paltz—over 6,200 undergraduates and over 1,600 graduate students. The College President is Steven Poskanzer, a scholar of higher education law, with a broad range of administrative experience at both public and private universities and colleges. The Student Body President is Benjamin Olsen. The head of Faculty Governance on campus is Simin Mozayeni.
The student governance is operated by the Student Association, which funds most student activities through a mandatory fee. There are many clubs and fraternities and sororities. In addition, there is also an on-campus government, the Residence Hall Student Association (R.H.S.A.). The college has an auxiliary services corporation common to many state campuses in New York, called College Auxiliary Services, Inc. (CAS). This on-campus company operates the dining halls and bookstore, as well as being the source of discretionary funds for spending by the college president and the R.H.S.A.
The college has a Foundation and an active Alumni Association.
SUNY New Paltz boasts numerous alumni including: