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Task Force to Look Into Creating Independent SUNY School at Southampton Campus

Posted on 05 August 2010

By Claire Walla


Last week, the battle to keep higher education alive in Southampton raged on.

Responding to SUNY Stony Brook’s decision in early April to end its residential and undergraduate programs at its Southampton campus, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle introduced legislation to create a task force that would explore the option of turning the 82-acre, seaside property into an independent branch of the SUNY system. If all goes according to plan, this would allow the Southampton campus to function, for the first time since its founding in 1963, without the oversight of a parent institution.

“It doesn’t work to have Southampton as a satellite campus,” Mr. Thiele said. “My bottom line is to provide people in the East End with access to a real college. Stony Brook just wanted to use the campus to benefit Stony Brook.

“The ultimate goal has to be an independent SUNY campus,” Thiele continued. “It’s the best use of [the State’s] investment.”

Since 2005, when SUNY Stony Brook acquired the Southampton facilities from Long Island University, the state has spent nearly $75 million to improve the buildings and accommodate programs in environmental sustainability and marine biology. The campus grew to include about 400 students this past year and would have had twice that amount in the fall, but Stony Brook was forced to shift gears.

According to Lauren Sheprow, a spokesperson for SUNY Stony Brook, the university has suffered a 20 percent cut in state funding over the past two years. “With no relief in sight, and facing such an enormous deficit, Stony Brook was forced to streamline operations, including those at Southampton where the cost of educating a student is 2.5 times great than on Stony Brook University Main Campus,” she wrote in an email.

The university estimates it will save about $6.7 million annually by relocating most of Southampton’s academic programs to the main campus, a decision fully backed by the SUNY system. According to an email from a spokesperson for SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, the whole SUNY system has lost $424 million in funding over the last two years, and “the chancellor supports Stanley’s decision to live within the means available to him.”

With many Southampton buildings no longer in use, Stony Brook recently established an Advisory Committee to explore options for future use of the campus, such as developing a center for the creative arts and expanding graduate programs. Members of the Committee consist of university officials, others from the SUNY system, business and planning delegates, and two community members (including Laura Baudo Sillerman, whose husband served as Dean of the Southampton campus when it was still owned by LIU).

 Thiele, however, insists that Stony Brook hasn’t done enough to bolster undergraduate education, an oversight he sees as a fundamental shift in priorities at the university. Stony Brook, he said, is now focusing on more lucrative programs in the sciences and mostly at the graduate level.

 “One of the reasons why I’m so passionate about this campus is because of my own experience,” Thiele said. “I went to high school in Sag Harbor and then I went to Cornell. But, my family fell on some tough times—the economy was pretty bad then and both of my parents were out of work, so I had to come home. If that college hadn’t been there, then I wouldn’t have gotten my diploma.”

He continued, “But it’s not just about individual dreams and individual students. Higher education creates several hundred jobs and trained employees.”

No proceedings are yet underway—the plan is still very much in the gestation phase. But, Mr. Thiele said that he hopes discussions will pick-up quickly so that the campus will be up and running again as a four-year institution by next year. 

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8 Responses to “Task Force to Look Into Creating Independent SUNY School at Southampton Campus”

  1. SBS student says:

    Finally a plan to help these students continue at their college. SUNY SOUTHAMPTON. Sounds like a great idea. THANK YOU ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE!

  2. Marianne Klepacki says:

    Thank you Assemblyman Thiele! I whole heartedly agree with you that Stony Brook University did not do enough to bolster the undergraduate programs at the Southampton campus.

    There are 4,000 students 20 minutes away at the Suffolk Community College in Riverhead and SCC has articulation agreements with many public and private colleges so that the courses the students take to earn their associates degrees are accepted into a bachelorate program. I see Stony Brook listed in that articulation agreement, but not the Southampton campus! When planning for the Southampton campus this should be a consideration. I will follow with specifics next.

  3. Marianne Klepacki says:

    I am so glad that Senator LaValle and Assemblymember Thiele have written this proposed legislation to save the undergraduate education that has been available to the East End of Long Island for more than 40 years.

    It is programs such as the one sited below that would be a good fit for the Southampton campus, when the feasibility study is approved.

    www3.sunysuffolk.edu/Documents/PressReleases/dept%20of%20labor%20grant_2.pdf

    SUFFOLK COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS AWARDED $1.9 MILLION
    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR GRANT

    “Selden, NY –Suffolk County Community College has been selected to receive its third job training
    grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in the amount of $1.9 million. With this funding, the College
    will provide short-term career and job skills training in renewable energy technology and energy
    efficiency for 250 unemployed and displaced workers, incumbent workers, and returning soldiers on
    Long Island over a three-year period. Entitled POWER (“Pathways to Opportunities Within Energy
    and Renewables”), this Community Based Job Training Grant (CBJTG) will enable participants to
    receive industry certification as an Energy Rater, Solar/Photovoltaic Installer, or LEED Green
    Associate. The initiative will include career planning for all participants, and emerging workers will
    have the opportunity to earn their GED and/or the National Work Readiness Credential.”

    In addition there are 4,000 students who attend the Eastern campus of Suffolk Community College (SCC) in Riverhead who would benefit from the “articulation agreement” by attending the Southampton campus once they have finished their associates degree. (“Articulation agreements are formal agreements between Suffolk County Community College and four-year colleges and universities allowing students to transfer the maximum number of credits with ease to institutions with which we have an established transfer process in place.)
    www3.sunysuffolk.edu/Academics/Unified/index.asp

    Also a consideration would be an RN, and BSN nursing program to coordinate with this program at SCC in Riverhead:

    “The PN program leads to a certificate in Practical Nursing and 37 college credits. A graduate of the program is eligible to take the NCLEX-PN examination for licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Classes for this program take place on the Eastern Campus (Riverhead, NY) and the Eastern Campus Culinary Center in downtown Riverhead. There is currently one program option:
    1- year day program ( including a summer session ) – begins in the spring semester on the Eastern campus
    The nursing program is highly competitive.”
    http://department.sunysuffolk.edu/Nursing/index_6819.asp

    Since undergraduate tuition is about $4660-$5,000 a year, graduate programs would be useful to support the school and the East End population who wish to further their professional education. Graduate tuition is about 50% more than the cost of undergraduate tuition, so that is about $8,370 for 24 or more credits a year.

    The Southampton campus had planned to add a Nutrition major that could coordinate with the dietetic technician associate degree offered at SCC in Riverhead. This could be a program accredited by the American Dietetic Association leading to Registered Dietitian license.

    There are specialty areas of certification in the dietetics profession, such a pediatrics, cardiology, diabetes, and there is an area of integrative/holist medicine that would be appropriate for this campus.

    There is a business administration major, marketing, and an accounting major at SCC Riverhead that would work seamlessly with the Business Management and Fast track MBA program offered at the Southampton campus.

    Of course I would hope the Sustainability majors would continue as well as the graduate writing program and the marine science programs. The Southampton campus has the only marine science program in the state that provides an undergraduate, graduate and doctoral program. It historically has attracted many out of state students who pay about triple the in-state student tuition rate.

    It does not seem as though Stony Brook University pursed the articulation agreements with the Southampton campus, because it is not listed on the SCC web site www3.sunysuffolk.edu/Academics/Unified/index.asp and I would think it should be to bring more students to Southampton.

  4. Marianne Klepacki says:

    I would also like to point out that the undergraduate students at the Southampton campus have historically been a great benefit to the business community of the East End. Undergraduate students work as paid or unpaid interns and they do volunteer work with various organizations. Also they are a local work force. It is not easy to find employees locally because so many homes on the East End are summer homes.

    Conversely, the Southampton campus is most unique because the pay scale offered on the east end is about 50% more than what a student would typically make up island in the Stony Brook area. So the business community benefits and the students benefit by earning a better a part-time income.

  5. Hamptons Resident says:

    Where does President Stanley plans to place SUNY Stony Brook graduates for REAL JOBS in this economy…IN THE CREATIVE ARTS he seems to think are MORE IMPORTANT AS A BUSINESS MODEL than ENVIRONMENTAL, SUSTAINABILITY & RENEWABLE ENERGY DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT…(THE degree focuses of the NOW CLOSED SOUTHAMPTON campus)?

    The ARTS MUST be a PART of any higher education, but HOW MANY JOBS IN CREATIVE ARTS are out there when the ARTS ARE BEING CUT FROM EVERY SECTOR OF SOCIETY AND EDUCATION? Talk about UNSUSTAINABLE!

    The very idea that American education must fit an AMERICAN BUSINESS MODEL is exactly what is wrong in education! Hint: American Business models are failing because they are based on unsustainable goals that are destroying the planet, education, communities, and leaving the US in the dust behind the rest of the world.

    The closure of Stony Brook Southampton had NOTHING to do with budget cuts: Thiele & LaValle offered the SUNY system ample money to cover the $6.7 Million Stanley claims in losses…..which SUNY turned down.

    There is a lot here Stony Brook is keeping REAL REAL quiet: Another hint: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY CAMPUS TO OPEN IN SOUTH KOREA 2011 (you know…the place where North Korea & South Korea are threatening war on each other and the USA is investing $24 BILLION to build Nuclear Power plant(s)…yeah, THAT South Korea)…(Google this stuff-incredible!)

    Business as usual is the LAST THING WE NEED IN HIGHER EDUCATION. On the East End, WE NEED REAL JOBS AND REAL HIGHER EDUCATION!

  6. Marianne Klepacki says:

    Hamptons Resident, you are so right, future employment is what is really needed, with the undergraduate sustainability majors that were designed at the Southampton campus.

    “The Obama administration has estimated that jobs in energy and environmental-related occupations will grow 52% from 2000 through 2016, vs. 14% for other occupations.

    That’s partly why budget-strapped schools are adding energy and sustainability programs even while cutting other majors, Rowland says.”

    “•Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. The school of 21,000 students has 65 majors in renewable energy, a program started in 2008 with help from a $1 million Department of Energy grant. The program has “more students wanting in than we can handle,” says Richard Boser, chair of the Department of Technology. Nearby employers, including those in wind energy, hope to hire future graduates, Boser says.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/environment/2009-12-27-green-colleges_N.htm?csp=outbrain&csp=obnetwork

    So I would imagine that when Assemblyman Thiele and Senator LaValle have the legislation passed to form a task force to study the feasibility of a separate SUNY Southampton undergraduate program, they will look to the Department of Energy for a grant to support the education of renewable energy majors. Illinois State already has the template to explore.

    As an aside, the graduate tuition rate is about 60% more for state tuition compared to the undergraduate tuition rate. The undergraduate model was working as planned in the 5 year plan for the Southampton campus. Applications were up 54% and SAT scores for applicants were up an average of 100 points.

  7. would have been SBS Class of 2014 says:

    The college at Southampton did not fail. Stony Brook University failed the college. Southampton was growing tremendously (a 54% increase in enrollment in one year!) It makes no sense that its students had to be removed and almost everything shut down while other educational plans are considered. The environmental college could have continued at the same time that those ideas about adding programs and sharing services with the community college were explored. I think the state legislature should immediately bar SUNY from eliminating the college, immediately reinstate the sustainability programs and get all the students and faculty back on campus while the task force studies the feasibility of making Southampton a separate SUNY college.

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