Despite the continued uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is sustained by overwhelming generosity.
From alumni donors to deeply committed faculty to impressive student scholars, this story features just a few of the people who have been central to the unwavering success of Soaring Higher–The Campaign for SUNY New Paltz.
The first comprehensive campaign in the College’s history, this seven-year initiative seeks $23 million in philanthropic support for strategic priorities across campus and wrapped up June 30, 2021, with an announcement of results on July 1.
Student Psychological Resilience Project
Ira Schreck ’74 and Barbara S. Ginsberg
As mental health issues, including the prevalence of sub-clinical stress and anxiety among students, have reached record levels, alumnus Ira Schreck ’74 and his wife Barbara S. Ginsberg have sought ways to help.
Today’s college students are grappling with issues such as institutionalized racism, financial challenges, an unrelenting news stream, and the ongoing pandemic. As a result, mental health issues, including the prevalence of sub-clinical stress and anxiety among students, have reached record levels.
In response, the College's Student Psychological Resilience Project Fund seeks to develop a comprehensive program in psychological first aid, psychoeducation and stress management to prepare all SUNY New Paltz students with the coping skills necessary to build a stable foundation for their future personal, academic and professional success.
The new program is made possible thanks to support from alumnus Ira Schreck ’74 and his wife, Barbara S. Ginsberg. The two reside in High Falls, New York.
"These students are facing enormous challenges, including a global pandemic, political dysfunction, systemic racism, climate change, to go along with daily financial and social pressures," said Schreck. "It has never been more important to provide students with the skills to find a measure of equilibrium, both for the present and to carry with them as they enter the world. This program is designed to do exactly that."
Meet the SUNY New Paltz Student Resiliency Advocates!
Under the guidance of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health Deputy Director Karla Vermeulen and Program Coordinator Kelsey Valencia ’20g (Psychology), the Fund supports the activities of 10 Student Psychological Resilience Advocates (SRAs) to provide stress management tools to their peers.
“Mental health is an important issue that needs to be spoken about in the climate of the campus environment,” said Alyssa Dudinyak ’22 (Visual Arts), who is working as an SRA this year. “I’m excited to be an advocate for mental health among my peers and to let them know that their concerns are not isolated. We're all in this together and we want to help them through this."
Psychological First Aid is the foundation for disaster mental health interventions, but it is equally effective at reducing stress reactions among people who are trying to cope with other less visible challenges.
Students are facing stress and trauma caused by the outbreak, not to mention the many other pre-existing issues of emerging adulthood.
"Our SRAs are committed to providing comfort, validating people’s thoughts and feelings, connecting them with support systems and reinforcing positive coping strategies. These efforts remove barriers to natural recovery processes and promote a sense of connectedness and hope for our campus community," she said.
The Kyncl Family Foundation
Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 (Psychology) and Robert Kyncl ’95 (International Relations)
The Kyncl's mission is to support and empower members of underrepresented communities with access to education and other opportunities.
The Robert Kyncl ’95 and Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 STEM Scholarship Fund launched in 2018 as a new award to offset tuition costs for SUNY New Paltz students in engineering and computer science, with priority given to those from demographic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in those fields.
The award was made possible thanks to a generous gift from its namesakes, alumni Robert Kyncl ’95 (International Relations) and Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 (Psychology), who have seen first-hand the shortage of computer scientists and engineers from underrepresented backgrounds in technology fields.
Since its inception, 16 SUNY New Paltz students have earned this award to support their work in STEM.
“We created this fund to start leveling the playing field for the traditionally underrepresented,” Luz said. “We believe focusing on education opportunities in those communities must come first.”
Eight Kyncl Scholars toured YouTube with Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl ’95 (International Relations), who along with his wife Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 (Psychology), established scholarships to support students studying computer science or engineering and to create once-in-a-lifetime experiential learning opportunities, including undergraduate research, study abroad and industry internships, in the same fields.
In addition to creating a scholarship to help offset tuition costs, the Kyncls also established the Robert Kyncl ’95 and Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 STEM Experiential Learning Fund, which supports once-in-a-lifetime experiential learning opportunities for students in computer science and computer engineering, including undergraduate research, study abroad and industry internships.
“STEM education today provides life-changing career opportunities,” said Robert, who currently serves as chief business officer at YouTube. “Our mission is to support and empower members of underrepresented communities with access to education and other opportunities."
The Fund for New Paltz
Ken Pasternak '77 (Secondary Education)
For alumnus Ken Pasternak ’77 (Secondary Education: Social Studies), the namesake of the Kenneth D. Pasternak Trading Room at the School of Business, contributing to the Fund for New Paltz has been a key component of his philanthropic efforts for more than 25 years. It’s his way of helping young people become “credits to our economic system, our community and our society.”
The Fund for New Paltz provides support to help students connect with alumni, learn from subject matter experts and gain real-life work experience.
Pasternak has a 30-year history as a real estate investor and is currently the executive chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of The KABR Group, a private equity real estate firm.
In 1995, Pasternak founded Knight Capital Group (KCG), a global financial services firm. Under his leadership, KCG’smarket capitalization exceeded $5 billion. Pasternak was awarded the national Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young for these accomplishments and he has consistently made the effort to share that success with his alma mater.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for SUNY New Paltz and the opportunities I found at the College,” said Pasternak. “New Paltz is a great place for one to make a transition from childhood to adulthood, be successful and even become a CEO of a multibillion-dollar company.”
Pasternak began his career in 1979 at Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, now a part of Goldman Sachs, rising to become the head of NASDAQ trading. Throughout his career, he has served on the boards of numerous publicly traded and private institutions.
The business leader believes in the transformational power of a public education and says New Paltz graduates bring a well-rounded educational background that makes them ideal job candidates.
“There’s nothing that an Ivy Leaguer knows that a SUNY graduate doesn’t know,” he said.
Watch Ken Pasternak ’77 (Secondary Education) talk about his personal history and success on "Building NY" in 2013.
In addition to supporting the Fund for New Paltz, Pasternak has donated more than $250 thousand dollars to the School of Business where he established the Special Projects Endowed Fund to benefit a wide range of initiatives at the College. This fund has provided major support to HV Venture Hub programming to advance entrepreneurship in the Hudson Valley.