Ceremony Officially Installs Young as SUNY Orange’s Eighth President

Inauguration Photo Gallery

PHOTO: Dr. Kristine YoungMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Ten months into her tenure at SUNY Orange, Dr. Kristine Young was lauded Friday (April 29) for her hard work, perspective, perseverance, energy and encouragement of students as the College joined with the State University of New York to officially install Young as SUNY Orange’s eighth president.

Friday’s inauguration ceremony, held before a crowd of more than 250 in the Edward A. Diana Physical Education Center, featured remarks from community and college representatives as well as an official investiture presentation by SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges Johanna Duncan-Poitier.

In his keynote address, Dr. Tom Ramage, president of Parkland College where Young was employed for 17 years prior to arriving at SUNY Orange, praised Young (at right in photo) for her measured demeanor and her many contributions as a chemistry professor, department chair (the youngest ever selected in Parkland’s history) and vice president.

“Wisdom is usually a term that is associated with those who have reached a certain age or experience, but every once in a while, you find an outlier, somebody who intuitively understands that intersection between people and policy and process,” Ramage (below at podium) said. “Kris has an innate and, unfortunately, all-too-rare compunction to think before she speaks.

“I would frequently watch Kris’ reaction during our weekly vice presidents meeting. And when a particular controversy or topic came up, more often than not the College and I were both well-served to pay close attention to her instincts and her ability to accurately gauge the wisdom of a certain decision or change in policy, or to perhaps deal with the most treacherous of all, a ‘change to the way we have always done things.’

PHOTO: Dr. Tom RamageIn other words, Kris made me a better president. And for that I’ll always be indebted to her.”

Additional remarks were offered by Steve Neuhaus, Orange County Executive; Terry Saturno, chair of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Directors; Tony Cruz, representing Kathy Malia, president of the Faculty Association; Frank Traeger, president of the Staff and Chairman’s Association; Michelle Tubbs, president of the College’s Shared Governance system; Irina Negru, president of the Middletown Campus Student Senate; and Jo Ann Hamburg, Class of 1987, vice president for administration and finance.

“Almost from the beginning, she faced unexpected situations, which she handled with calm intelligence, humor and grace,” added Helen G. Ullrich, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees and hostess of Friday’s 90-minute ceremony. “But despite these distractions, Kris has held fast to her vision, and our vision, to put students first, to make the campuses more welcoming, easier to navigate, upgrade infrastructure so as to provide our students with the best facilities possible and to expand our outreach to underserved communities in both Newburgh and Middletown.

“Her sense of purpose and urgency is palpable, yet she is wise enough to know that true change is usually incremental, that it requires addressing the needs of many different constituencies. I believe that she has shown that she is up to the task,” Ullrich said.

PHOTO: Irina Negru“Dr. Young encouraged us to be the voice (of the students) and to make a difference,” Negru (right) said of Young’s appearances at Student Senate meetings and other student functions. “Her commitment to students is encouraging and I know Dr. Young will do great things for the current and future students at SUNY Orange.”

Neuhaus commended Young’s collaborative approach and her immediate immersion into the Orange County community, saying “I believe there are a lot of opportunities in front of us. She has used her time wisely and has met with all of the different stakeholders. I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of our community. The graduates of this institution have the world in the palm of their hands.”

Traeger, who has been a biology professor at SUNY Orange for 35 years and has now served under six of the College’s eight presidents, used his remarks to highlight several of the achievements of Young’s predecessors before concluding, “we (College employees) invest our aspirations and hopes in your leadership and vision.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher offered her thoughts earlier in the week, saying “Dr. Young’s focus on academic excellence, innovation, and student success makes her ideally suited as president of SUNY Orange and a great asset to the community, students, faculty, and staff the campus serves. I am proud to officially welcome her to the SUNY family on behalf of the entire university system.”

Young, who spoke for 30 minutes following the investiture, thanked the mentors, colleagues, family and friends who helped shape her academic career, and who supported and guided her to this point in her professional career. She also recognized alumni, elected officials, donors and community supporters of the College.

PHOTO: Investiture of Dr. Kristine M. Young“To all of you gathered here today, this is my chance to thank you. To thank you for the incredible support you have shown and belief you have placed in Orange County Community College since 1950. Whether you’ve been a community leader, an employee, a student, or maybe all three: thank you. This day is your day as well and I’m pleased you are celebrating with us.”

And rather than reflect upon her own achievements, she spoke about the need to educate “the students of today” and outlined her hopes that the College and the community will begin to think differently about how education and student support services are delivered at SUNY Orange in the future.

“There is no doubt, none, that this community believes in us, trusts us, and values us. I have heard it time and again. It is my intent to lead this respected manner of doing things, our seasoned, measured, rigorous way, and apply it to the timely consideration of opportunities for students in Orange County today.

“I’ve started asking our two campuses to think about the student of today. We know our students are working more than they used to, we know they are more diverse than they used to be, we know they have a different relationship with education and the world than their predecessors. The rigor of our courses should not change, but I wish to pose questions about whether we are giving all the potential students of today the ability to first access those rigorous courses and then the opportunity to succeed in those rigorous courses. That is the work ahead for SUNY Orange, and the work I am so very excited to discover and do along with the faculty, staff, and all of you.”

Young will celebrate her one-year anniversary at SUNY Orange on June 8.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940