The State University of New York Board of Trustees has
appointed Gerald Benjamin '65, dean of New Paltz' College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences and professor of political science, to the position of
Distinguished Professor, the university's highest faculty designation.
The Distinguished Professor designation is conferred on individuals who
have achieved national or international prominence in a chosen field.
Benjamin, who joined the faculty at New Paltz as assistant professor of
Political Science in 1968, is a widely recognized expert - and the
pre-eminent scholar - on New York State and local government.
"Jerry Benjamin has devoted his life to improving New York's state and
local government," said Steve Poskanzer, New Paltz' interim president.
"He uses the full breadth of his considerable scholarly talent and
research to serve the community, whether it is in the classroom, city
hall, the state capitol, or in the form of books and periodicals."
He has written, co-written or edited 14 books on topics such as
regionalism, term limits, state legislatures, city government and
municipal reform, New York City and New York State governments, race
relations and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and a
biography of Governor Rockefeller. His books have been published by the
top publishers in the country, including The Brookings Institution,
Congressional Quarterly Press and Cornell University Press.
In the nomination package for the Distinguished Professorship,
Benjamin's work in the classroom was best characterized in a letter from
one of his former students: "Professor Benjamin inspired me each day
that I was in his class, and continues to inspire me each day in my own
classes. I know that my students benefit from my association with Gerald
Benjamin, from the example of excellence that he modeled for me. Gerald
Benjamin's greatest gift . . . is that he expects more of himself than
he does of others . . . but what's so special is his ability to get more
out of yourself than you thought was possible."
His national recognition includes a College Teacher Fellow in Political
Science from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Award for
Most Distinguished Researcher from the Government Research Association.
His international recognition includes a Fulbright Scholar lectureship
at the University of Tokyo and Japanese Foreign Ministry School; a
Serbelloni Fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation Research Center in
Bellagio, Italy; Researcher in Residence at Hebrew University in
Jerusalem; a United States Information Agency lectureship spanning
Japan, Korea and Taiwan; and directorship of the New York State/Japan
Leaders Exchange at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. He is the
recipient of an Alumni Citation from St. Lawrence.
In addition to his scholarly successes, Benjamin pursued public service
as an Ulster County legislator, where he was the majority leader from
1986 to 1991, and the chairman and chief elected officer from 1991 to
1993. He served as Research Director of New York's Temporary State
Commission on Constitutional Revision. In 1988 and 1989 he was the
principal research advisor to the New York City Charter Revision
Commission whose efforts lead to the most extensive changes in the
structure of New York City government in the last 100 years.
"Jerry's record of success exemplifies the level of excellence at New
Paltz," said Poskanzer. "Just as alumni look back with deep respect to
professors like Jerry, prospective students are drawn to New Paltz
because of the high caliber of instruction here."
Posted April 25, 2002