Michele Halstead named new VP for administration and finance

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Michele Halstead as the College’s new vice president for administration and finance after a competitive national search. She will assume her new role today, August 19.

Michele is currently the assistant vice president for administration and finance and interim chief financial officer at SUNY New Paltz, managing all aspects of the campus’s finances and serving on the President’s Cabinet. A native of New Paltz, an alumna of SUNY New Paltz, and a resident of Stone Ridge, she has held positions of increasing responsibility within the College’s Division of Administration and Finance since 1990 and has been asked to provide transitional leadership on several occasions.

I regard it as a spectacular outcome when “one of our own” ends up being the top candidate emerging from a national search. Certainly this outcome of the search reinforces the exceptionally positive experience I have had working with Michele, both in previous years and in her expanded interim role this past year. I am excited to have her join the College’s top leadership team on a more permanent basis. Her leadership style and values, including the care with which she interacts with others, are consistent with my vision for building a strong and cohesive campus community.

As the college’s senior non-academic administrator and chief financial officer, Michele will be responsible for the institution’s financial viability and integrity, its operating and capital budgets, revenues, expenditures, business activities and debt. She will oversee Administrative and Financial Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities Management, Human Resources, Technology and Information Services, and Telecommunications. Vice President for Student Affairs David Rooney will continue to oversee Campus Auxiliary Services, a responsibility he assumed when former VP for Administration and Finance left New Paltz last November to take a new position in Rochester, N.Y.

I want to thank Provost Mauceri for his excellent leadership of this search process, and the members of the search committee: Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Director of CRREO and Distinguished Professor; Julie Chiarito, financial analyst, Institutional Research and Planning; Dr. Daniel Freedman, dean, School of Science and Engineering; Dr. Ken Goldstein, assistant professor, theatre arts, and chair, Budget, Goals and Plans Committee; Douglas Hanley, EAP coordinator and Utilities Shop, Facilities Operations; Rosemarie LaTourette, director of Accounting Services; Harriet Lettis, director of Administrative Computing; Julie Majak, director of Facilities Finance and Administration and previously the interim AVP for research administration; L. David Rooney, vice president for Student Affairs; and Nisi Udoh, MBA graduate student.

I am grateful to each search committee member for their dedication, care, and thoughtful work in all elements of this process – including their respect for confidentiality. I heard nothing but praise from our consultants at RPA for their fine work, and for the way that other members of the campus community engaged in this search process. Indeed, here is what Gary Lowe of RPA wrote to me: “Many thanks again, and high compliments again, to your search committee. We at RPA Inc. would love to be able to bottle them.” The actions and behavior of a search committee and a campus community provide a good mirror of an institution’s values and standards and the dedication of its employees to its mission. The search committee and the campus should be proud of the impression they made through their work. I surely am.

For those of you who may not know Michele extremely well, here is a short synopsis of her work experience, accomplishments, her campus and community service, and her credentials:

Since 2002, Michele has been the assistant vice president for administration and finance at New Paltz. In that position, she assisted annually with the development of the College’s $64 million operating budget and developed and implemented the operating budget in 2007 and 2008 while serving as interim chief financial officer. For the last 10 years, she has been responsible for developing the budgets and administering the cash flow of the College’s approximately $35 million revenue-generating accounts. In addition, she works closely with Facilities Management to formulate the College’s multi-year capital budget for residence halls, which includes managing the debt related to the program and setting room rates annually. During recent budget cuts to SUNY, she worked diligently to develop solutions to reduce the loss of staff positions while remaining within budget.

As Assistant Vice President, she oversaw the following offices and functions on campus: Accounts Payable, Revenue Accounting, Student Loan Counseling Center, Administrative Services, Mail Room, Receiving, Payroll, Property Control, Parking, Telecommunications and Athletic and Wellness Center Collections and Internal Control. During the transformation of the College’s student information systems from a home-grown legacy system to Banner during 2006-2007, she led the finance team and successfully transferred more than 150 accounts and 1.4 million transactions totaling $70 million.

Said Michele about her new appointment: “I’ve worked side by side with the people in administration and finance for a long time now and have seen them do amazing things. I’m humbled and honored to have been chosen to lead such a dedicated, talented and remarkable group of people.”

She said she sees the administrative service areas on campus as the “backbone” of the institution. “We provide the structure that houses the central nervous system of the campus. Through that support, we allow the artists to paint, the musicians to sing, the athletes to run and the scholars to teach. It’s imperative that we maintain the health of that support structure to keep the campus moving along the path to greatness.”

From 1999 to 2002, Michele served as the Director of Accounting Services, and from 1990 to 1999, she was the Assistant Director of Accounting Services. Her interim leadership roles have included Interim Chief Financial Officer (2007-2008, 2012-2013), Interim Director of Accounting Services (2007), Interim Supervisor for the Office of Institutional Research (2006), and Acting Director of Student Accounts (1998).

Michele is known on campus and in the community for her service efforts. She initiated and organizes the Annual Campus Cleanup Day. She has served on the Workplace with Heart Committee and the Employee Assistance Program Committee, the Banner Steering Committee, Campus Auxiliary Services Board, and the Intercollegiate Athletics Board. She is a certified radKIDS Instructor, providing personal empowerment and safety education for children. She co-chaired the Golf Scholarship Tournament Committee, which has raised more than $230,000 for scholarships. She is Past President and Treasurer for the New Paltz Adult Athletic League, served as Audit Committee chair for the Friendship Bowling League, and a volunteer fundraiser for major charitable organizations, including the American Heart Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In addition to her campus duties, Michele leads the SUNY-wide Accounting/Budget/Bursar Committee, a group of about 100 professionals responsible for the finance and student accounts departments on all state-operated campuses. In 2010, she received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

Michele earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1986 from the University at Albany and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1991 from SUNY New Paltz. She is married to Michael Halstead and has one son, Drew Halstead, at home.

Please join me in congratulating Michele on her appointment and I ask that each of you lend any and all support that might be helpful to Michele as she takes on the new administrative challenges as Vice President for Administration and Finance.

Sincerely,
Donald P. Christian
President

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