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

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