Presidential Search


The legal authority to appoint the president or chief administrative officer of a state-operated SUNY campus rests with the University Board of Trustees. College councils have the responsibility to recommend candidates to the Board. To assist councils in their work, SUNY has adopted a policy with procedures for the search for and nomination of candidates.

SUNY Guidelines


What is the process for selecting a new president?

The legal authority to appoint the president or chief administrative officer of a state-operated SUNY campus rests with the State University of New York Board of Trustees. College councils have the responsibility to recommend a candidate or candidates to the Chancellor. To assist councils in their work, SUNY has adopted a policy with procedures.   

The College Council is given the responsibility to form a search committee to conduct the search for the new president. The search committee is charged with vetting and recommending candidates to the SUNY New Paltz College Council who then select three finalists to recommend to the SUNY Chancellor and SUNY Board of Trustees.

Who are the search committee members and how are the chair and the search committee members selected?

The College Council Chair appoints the chair of the search committee. The Council Chair typically serves as chair of the search. The Council chair asks campus and community groups, including the campus governance leader, to submit recommendations for positions on the search committee other than faculty positions, which are elected.

The search committee consists of representatives from campus constituencies including the College Council, faculty, professional staff, students, alumni, Foundation Board, and academic deans. Also serving on the committee is an incumbent or retired SUNY president from another campus or a member of the Chancellor’s senior staff designated by the Chancellor. And, a Chancellor’s Liaison and Campus Liaison serve as non-voting members.

The list of search committee members can be found here.

How is the search conducted?

As required in the SUNY Search Guidelines, a search firm was selected to assist in the presidential search process. The College Council had the option to forego a full RFP process and instead hire a firm to provide a limited set of recruiting services, thus creating cost savings for the campus. 

The search firm holds campus wide listening sessions and works with the search committee, the campus Chief Diversity Officer, and the Chancellor’s office to develop the job description, the required and preferred qualifications for the position, as well as the campus prospectus that describes the college, including its current strengths, opportunities, and challenges and information about the SUNY system. The firm then places advertisements and conducts active outreach nationally to recruit a large, talented and diverse pool of qualified candidates to be considered by the committee. The firm assists the search committee in selecting semi-finalists by providing additional information  from initial interviews with qualified applicants in an effort to find the best candidates to serve the institution and its needs.

The Chancellor’s Office will work with the Council and search committee to conduct extensive background checks and references on all finalists.

New Paltz retained RPA, Inc. to assist with the presidential search. RPA Inc. is a nationally recognized comprehensive executive search and consulting firm, founded in 1988. With over three decades of service to higher education, the firm has established a record of success in recruitment and search facilitation across all levels of senior administration. RPA Inc. is dedicated to the philosophy that a recruitment effort is an opportunity to positively impact the future of an institution. The firm’s guiding objective is to develop a full understanding of each institution it serves and to identify and seek out professionals whose skill sets, values, and personal characteristics most closely match the needs and values of the institution. RPA also brings deep experience with searches in the SUNY system. The RPA team is led by Dana John Cohick, president of RPA Inc..

The search committee will review the pool and ultimately select 8–12 candidates who will be interviewed virtually. From this group, five finalists will be selected and invited to campus to interview with a variety of stakeholder groups.

The finalists are evaluated and all acceptable candidates are presented, with evaluations from the search committee, first to the College Council, and then upon approval of the College Council, to the Chancellor. At least three acceptable finalist candidates are presented to the Chancellor. The names of the finalist candidates are sent to the Chancellor unranked—hence leaving the ultimate decision to the Chancellor.

How long will the search take?

The schedule and duration of the search will be determined by the Council Chair and the Chancellor’s office. Searches typically take several months to complete.

What is the approval process after the campus and College Council review?

The Chancellor interviews the candidates. Candidates are asked to provide a presentation to the Chancellor’s Executive Leadership team followed by Q&A, which is recorded for the Trustees to review as part of their materials.  .
The Chancellor makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.  A smaller subgroup of the Board  interviews the candidate.   Upon completion and approval by the subcommittee, the final candidate will be approved by the Full Board of Trustees.

How do I share my thoughts about the search, send nominations, or apply?

The search firm and the search committee welcome your thoughts on the search. If you wish to share your views, please email us.

Please submit all nominations and applications directly to RPA.

For more information

For those interested in further details, please visit SUNY Presidential Search Guidelines.

For process questions, please contact: 
Zulaika Rodriguez
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Presidential Searches 

Search Details

The State University of New York at New Paltz invites nominations and applications for the position of President. The College seeks a successor to Donald P. Christian who will retire at the end of June 2022, following a 45-year career in higher education and 12 years as president of the college.

Download the Search Prospectus

Contact the Search Committee

For more information, contact the search committee at

virtual tour