Tag Archive | "Stony Brook University"

League Offers Stony Brook Southampton Tour

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The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons has invited the public to take part in a tour of Stony Brook Southampton’s state-of-the-art School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Building on Monday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. and to learn about the program from its manager, Christopher Paparo.

The $8.3 million, two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, which opened last fall, is a high tech research facility on Little Neck Road, overlooking Old Fort Pond, which connects to Shinnecock Bay.

It houses a seawater laboratory with a computerized circulation system, two wet labs, an analytical lab, classrooms, a conference room, and other spaces such as an outdoor tank area.

Moored outside is a fleet of three research vessels used to collect specimens and conduct classes.

The facility is being used for Stony Brook University’s graduate programs in marine sciences, four undergraduate degrees and programs such as Semester-by-the-Sea, and high school field trips and two-week summer oceanography classes.

Refreshments will be served at the beginning of the meeting.

Parking is available on Little Neck Road, just past the SoMAS building, which is diagonally across from the Stony Brook Southampton campus on Montauk Highway.

Additional information is available from the League at (631) 324-4637 or by visiting www.lwvhamptons.org.

SoMAS “State of the Bays” Report to be Delivered This Friday in Southampton

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Gober, Christopher

Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies will present “State of the Bays, 2014: Nitrogen Loading, Estuarine Flushing and the Fate of Long Island’s Coastal Waters” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook-Southampton campus this Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will introduce a new organization, The Long Island Coastal Conservation and Research Alliance, whose mission will be to engage in coastal research and monitoring that can be used to protect and restore Long Island coastal ecosystems. The seminar will also highlight recent observations and research important for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Over the course of the last year, awareness has grown about the negative effects of excessive nitrogen loading on Long Island’s coastal waters. This attention was partly driven by the continuous outbreaks of red tides, brown tides, rust tides, blue green algal blooms, Ulva blooms, and dead zones in Long Island’s estuaries during May through October of 2013, notes Dr. Gobler in his talk, an excerpt of which was issued via a press release this week. At the same time, research findings have emerged connecting excessive nitrogen loading and the intensity and toxicity of marine and freshwater algal blooms. New evidence has also emerged, according to the release, that estuaries in the region that have successfully reduced nitrogen loading are now experiencing a resurgence in water quality and fish habitats. The talk will also focus on the benefits of enhanced flushing, which can protect bays against the threats brought about by excessive nitrogen.

The event is free and open to the public.

Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science Named for South Fork Resident Alan Alda

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Alan Alda Communicating Science group 

Alan Alda with Stony Brook University School of Medicine and Nursing students in the “Communicating Science” course at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science — the first of its kind in the United States — was renamed in honor of Alan Alda, the actor, director, and writer, a resident of Water Mill.

The naming of the “Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science” was announced by University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. at the Stony Brook Foundation’s annual fundraising Gala, “The Stars of Stony Brook.” Alda was the guest of honor at the event at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

He is a founding board member of the center that now bears his name and a visiting professor in the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, which houses the center. Its goal is to enhance public understanding of science by helping scientists and health professionals learn to communicate more effectively with the public, including public officials, students, the media, and colleagues in other disciplines.

“Without Alan Alda, there would be no Center for Communicating Science,” said President Stanley. “He has been a tireless and full partner in the center since its inception. During the past four years, he has traveled thousands of miles championing its activities at other universities and labs, at national conferences, and in one-on-one sessions with academic, government and foundation leaders. He has helped train our faculty and develop our curriculum, and he personally teaches some workshops.” 

“For years, I’ve been working to bring communication and science together in a more fundamental way, and now it’s happening,” said Alda. “The blossoming of the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook has been a dream come true for me.”

Among his many contributions to science communication, Alda initiated the Flame Challenge, an international contest run by the center. It began last year when he wrote a guest editorial in the journal Science, recalling how, as an 11-year-old, he had been fascinated by the flame on the end of a candle. When he asked his teacher what a flame was, she replied only: “Oxidation.” That answer meant nothing to him. In his editorial, Alda challenged scientists to do a better job of explaining a flame to an 11-year-old. More than 800 scientists responded, and thousands of 11-year-olds chose the winner: Ben Ames from Kansas City.

Regional Healthcare System Praised by Officials Touting Stony Brook and Southampton Hospital Affiliation

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Flanked by government leaders at a Monday morning press conference, officials from Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook University Medical Center lauded plans for an affiliation between the them. It’s the beginning of what both facilities hope will become a regional healthcare system for the East End of Long Island.

At the press conference, leadership from Stony Brook University, the State University of New York and Southampton Hospital announced they have signed a non-binding letter of intent in which Southampton Hospital will join Stony Brook University’s medical system and construct a new hospital building on the Stony Brook University Southampton campus.

For Robert Chaloner, the CEO of Southampton Hospital, the opportunities presented in an affiliation with Stony Brook will allow the hospital to grow in a positive direction.

“It’s hard for me to walk anywhere in this community without hearing the role the hospital plays,” said Chaloner. “We are the largest employer, we are an economic engine for the community, we are the organizing force for keeping doctors here in the community and we are the developer of services. And many people, especially as you go further east into East Hampton communities and out to Montauk, are frightened at the fact that we may move or any change we have made because we are an isolated community that is aging in its demographic.”

“We need to partner as we move forward,” said Chaloner, “because when all is said and done we are still a small community hospital entering an era of unprecedented change in health care and an era where hospitals of all sizes will be stressed and challenged.”

“We need a partner we can work with to ensure the long term survival of this organization,” he added. “And I can’t think of a better partner than Stony Brook University Medical Center.”

According to a press release issued the morning of the press conference, Southampton Hospital’s 125-bed facility would provide care under Stony Brook University Hospital’s New York State operating license. As the affiliation between the hospitals moves forward, Stony Brook and Southampton officials will comply with the collective bargaining agreements with public unions at Stony Brook University Hospital and the private sector unions at Southampton Hospital.

Southampton Hospital employees will maintain their status as private sector employees along with all of their collective bargaining rights, according to the release.

The letter of intent calls on Southampton Hospital to continue clinical services on the South Fork with a joint advisory committee made up of members appointed by both hospitals advising on strategic and community issues for the East End facility.

The letter of intent also calls for launching a Southampton Hospital led philanthropic campaign to raise funds to build a new state-of-the-art hospital on Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus. Southampton Hospital’s current facility on Meeting House Lane opened in 1909.

According to Congressman Tim Bishop — who joined New York State Senator Ken LaValle and New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele at the press conference — this affiliation will lead to expanded educational opportunities for the hospitals and serve as an economic driver allowing the college campus to realize its potential.

“It is so important from so many different vantage points not the least of which is the educational opportunities which will give rise to the economic possibilities that will solidify that college and solidify the role we have always wanted it to play on eastern Long Island,” said Bishop, who has had four generations of his family born at Southampton Hospital and who also served as the provost for Southampton College when it was owned by Long Island University. “Let’s go forward and make this happen.”

Like Bishop, Thiele has roots in both the hospital and the college. Born at Southampton Hospital and a graduate of Southampton College, Thiele noted his life literally would not be what it is today without both institutions.

“And to see those things brought together and married together into something that is going to benefit so many people in this community is just something I couldn’t be more proud of,” said Thiele.

According to the terms in the letter of intent, the next step in the process is for the two hospitals to enter “a due diligence phase,” during which they will exchange business, financial and legal information. Final agreement would also require the approval of numerous New York State regulatory and legislative authorities as well as the Southampton Hospital Board of Trustees.

For LaValle, Monday morning’s press conference was the first step in realizing a 20-year dream. The concept of a regional healthcare system for the East End has been on LaValle’s mind for two-decades, since he passed a bill allowing loan deferral for medical students who agreed to work in a medically underserved area like the East End for as long as five years.

“That was the first recognition that the community I represented was medically underserved,” said LaValle.

He would later talk to former director and CEO of Stony Brook University Medical Center, Michael Maffetone about a vision where Stony Brook was the center of a regional healthcare system for the whole of the East End, including Southampton Hospital, the Peconic Bay Medical Center and Eastern Long Island Hospital.

“It is all about the delivery of quality care and as was mentioned not only will people be getting quality care but within the environment we are increasing job creation because what will happen is more doctors will come out here, open office and they have to hire people,” said LaValle. “It is a win-win.”

“Initiatives like this are going to help us provide better medical care to the people of the East End of Long Island,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley. “And it is also going to help Stony Brook University fulfill its mission as an academic medical center to train the next generation of medical care providers.”

Stony Brook University Hospital’s new CEO and vice president for health systems Dr. L. Reuven Pasternak comes to Stony Brook from the Inova Health System in northern Virginia, which Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, the senior vice president of health sciences and the dean of Stony Brook University School of Medicine said has given Dr. Pasternak the tools necessary to help develop another successful health care system on the East End.

“This is truly a great day for the residents of eastern Suffolk County,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “It is a day that marks a new era in health care on Long Island — regional health care.”

Thiele Proposes New Zone for Higher Ed. in Southampton

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By Claire Walla

According to New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the fate of the college campus in Southampton has been put into question more than once in the last decade, which, in his opinion, is disconcerting.

To alleviate any uncertainty that may be swelling around that campus, especially in recent years, Thiele went to the Southampton Town Board last Friday, April 13 to propose legislation that would create a University-25 Zoning District in Southampton Town, specifically where Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus now sits.

There’s been a college campus in Southampton since 1963, when Long Island University built facilities there. And there the campus remained, relatively untouched, until 2005 when Long Island University announced it was for sale.

According to Thiele, a moratorium was then placed on the campus while a planning study was conducted. A year later, Stony Brook University stepped in and took over.

“When Stony Brook bought the campus [in 2006], all was well with the world,” he joked. “Then, of course, the sustainability program was transported to [the main campus], the dorms were closed and it was undetermined what the fate of the campus would be.”

In a surprising, last-minute decision, Stony Brook University decided to close all undergraduate operations at the oceanside campus at the tail end of the 2009-2010 academic year. The only operations that remained were graduate programs in creative writing and marine sciences.

After much debate and backlash from both students and lawmakers (Assemblyman Thiele and Senator Ken LaValle leading the fight), Stony Brook rescinded its decision in 2011, made a formal apology, and is now making plans to bring programs back to the campus.

The push to create an educational zoning district would be to ensure that the land always be used for higher education, no matter what.

It’s called University-25 because a minimum of 25 acres would be needed before the law could be enacted.  Although, at 82 acres, the Southampton property well exceeds that limitation; all 82 acres would fall under the town’s new educational zoning law, if enacted.

While Thiele said the property could theoretically be sub-divided at some point, he added that he couldn’t imagine a scenario in which that would take place.  Stony Brook University, which currently owns the land, is actually in support of the new zoning district.

Any voices of dissent could certainly challenge the new code (if enacted), Thiele continued, which would prompt the town the show that there’s “rational basis” for the zoning district to be enacted.

“I think the fact that it’s been a college for 50 years is certainly rational basis!” he said.

At the work session, Thiele said the thought of taking action to preserve this land for educational (and related) uses only came to him in a relatively random fashion.

“Quite frankly, I was doing research for something else when I came across Ithaca’s zoning ordinance,” Thiele explained. Ithaca, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, has a zoning district reserved for higher education. He continued, “I had one of those ‘eureka!’ moments and said, ‘This would be great for the Southampton campus.’”

Because this would be town-wide legislation, Thiele pointed out that it would apply to the Long Island University campus in Riverhead, as well. When asked whether or not this zoning legislation would affect Stony Brook’s ability to build a hospital in Southampton, Thiele said it would not. The hospital would be regarded as a “related activity.”

The Southampton Town Board would now have to adopt a resolution to create the proposed University-25 Zoning District.

“In my view, this is a good goal, to [also work toward] maintaining that open space,” said Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming. “I want to do whatever we can to preserve that.”

According to the town’s Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray, a public hearing on the matter will be set for May 22.

Resuscitating the College

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“Honestly, after all this, I think I want to go to law school,” upcoming Stony Brook University sophomore Katie Osiecki said in this week’s front page story “Students SUNY Suit Succeeds.” The kind of courage Osiecki, her peers, and members of the Save the College organization displayed when filing a lawsuit against the state university is admirable; and we are glad to see Osiecki is not only undeterred but energized for a life of engagement and taking on “the big dogs.” No doubt the narrative of the university versus the students has played out like a David and Goliath tale. In providing a great education, the university also taught their students to question and critique. These young minds are employing this education by questioning, criticizing and taking action against the university for their brisk attitude in effectively shutting down their campus.

At best, this verdict proves the university is lousy at following procedures of law – like including their own council in a dismantling of much of their East End program, with the exception of the Marine Science and masters writing degrees. At worst, as Assemblyman Fred Thiele believes, the higher ups at Stony Brook University concocted this plan in a closed door fashion, making sweeping — and, to some, devastating changes — without a passing thought to their Southampton-based students. No matter which side of the coin you look, or however the situation is spun by their publicist, the ruling doesn’t bode well for Stony Brook University.

When analyzing the numbers we were shocked by the meager savings the univeristy’s proposed plan will effectuate — just $6.7 million. The state reportedly slashed the budget by $60 million over two years, which adds up to roughly twenty percent of their annual budget. The proposed savings appear paltry compared to the overall loss. We wonder if the university lost their will or strength to run an aggressive funding campaign. Don’t misunderstand, $60 million is a great deal of money but we think the community at large here — including those with deep pockets whom we call our neighbors — would embrace a school that actually reached out to the community and fulfilled a need.

The fall semester is fast approaching and it appears the Southampton campus’ doors will remain shuttered. In the meantime we hope local politicians will be able to come up with a solution to make the campus whole, and we, the community, will be waiting to welcome back this invaluable student body, who have no doubt become their own assets to the East End.

Stony Brook Council: Lap Dog or Watch Dog?

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By Karl Grossman

 The decision by a state Supreme Court judge that Stony Brook University acted illegally in shuttering the Stony Brook Southampton campus was strong. Justice Paul Baisley, Jr. “annulled” the closing and “enjoined” the university from taking any further action to close the campus.

  State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor, in whose district the campus sits, said “pursuant to the court decision, we will seek the re-opening of the Southampton campus.”

 “Outlaw University” was a headline on the judge’s decision. This reflected well the judgment on how Stony Brook U.—led by its president, Dr. Samuel Stanley—ordered the closing of the campus.

The reaction of the Stony Brook administration didn’t refute this. A central issue in the lawsuit, brought by Stony Brook Southampton students, was that state Education Law “requires the Stony Brook Council to review and make recommendations on ‘major plans’ that affected SUNY Stony Brook,” noted the judge in his decision. He agreed and found that the Stony Brook Council did not do this when it came to the closing of Stony Brook Southampton.

In response, the university administration issued a statement declaring that Dr. Stanley, on May 11, at a Stony Brook Council meeting, “apprised the council…about both the budgetary impact of residential operations at Southampton, and his intention to relocate a number of academic programs from Southampton to the Stony Brook campus.”

Yes, but Dr. Stanley’s announcement of the closing of Stony Brook Southampton was made more than a month before—on April 7.

The judge, in his August 27 ruling, pointed out that the Education Law states “the operations and affairs of each state-operated institution of the state university shall be supervised locally by a council consisting of ten members.” It is supposed to “review all major plans of the head of such institution” and this includes “care, custody and management of lands, grounds, building and equipment.” This is a “statutory mandate,” he emphasized.

And, indeed, when Stony Brook University in 2005 took over what had been LIU’s Southampton College, the council “passed a formal resolution expressing its strong support for the acquisition.” The “acquisition of the Southampton campus was acknowledged by respondents to be a ‘major plan’ involving the council’s statutory review-and-recommend duty and authority.”  But not its closing — and thus the law was broken.

Declared Mr. Thiele in a press release: “The students of the Southampton campus are to be congratulated for taking action against this unfair, ill-considered, and now illegal action to close their school. They have fought for their rights and won. In the process they have benefited us all”

“Stony Brook University made the decision behind closed doors to shut down the Southampton campus.” And “not only” was there no consultation with the Stony Brook Council “as required by law” said Mr. Thiele, but also “a failure to consult with elected officials, community leaders, students and even administrators at the Southampton campus. The entire process lacked transparency and openness. The reason is obvious. The closure of the school cannot be defended in an open discussion.”

 “New York State has invested $78 million at the Southampton campus,” he continued. “That investment was beginning to bear fruit.” The “school was well on its way to meeting the ultimate goal of 2,000 students.” It “was succeeding.”

But “a new Stony Brook president with a hidden agenda to close the campus had to lie to the public to justify his decision,” said Mr. Thiele, skewering Dr. Stanley on numerous grounds. 

What’s next? Will the university council — nine of its members appointed by the governor — stand up and function independently. Or will it now just rubber-stamp Dr. Stanley’s decision?  The council hired Dr. Stanley. Does this mean it has to stick with his whopper of a bad decision? In recent years we have seen how so many corporate boards became lapdogs of management, not watchdogs. Will the Stony Brook Council take a different stance on Stony Brook Southampton? We hope so.

Tale of Two Cultures


By Karl Grossman

It’s a tale of two cultures in one university. On one side, there is the Stony Brook University Medical Center and the compassionate care it provides. That is mirrored in the approach to health care as taught at its associated medical, dental, nursing and public welfare schools. On the other side, there’s the university itself, historically less than supportive of its undergraduate students.

Why the different sides?  It’s because the man behind health sciences at Stony Brook was the extraordinary Dr. Edmund Pellegrino. He came from a humble background in Brooklyn. The son of Italian immigrants, this almost prevented him from getting into medical school. He would tell the story of how one Ivy League medical school complimented him on the outstanding grades he received at St. John’s University, but declined his application stating in a letter that he would be “happier with” his “own kind.”

His father, a food salesman, was able through a restaurant owner he knew to approach a restaurant regular, the dean at NYU Medical School, and after a review of young Pellegrino’s sterling academic record, NYU welcomed him.

That was the early 1940s. Twenty-five years later, Dr. Pellegrino was given the task of creating a hospital and schools of health sciences at SUNY’s new Stony Brook University. As a health professor and administrator, he had become a pioneer in promoting humanism in medical education and care, a “virtue-based” interdisciplinary approach. I covered Stony Brook back then for the daily Long Island Press and wrote about his dream.

My wife and I have had a good many, as they say, “health issues,” and been treated at Stony Brook. Just last week, she had a successful operation there. Every time I’m there, I’m amazed to see the vision of Dr. Pellegrino continuing, an enduring legacy.

Sitting in the surgical waiting room, I was pleased to see Anita Lee, its long-time attendant, approach people with information about the procedure their loved one was undergoing and otherwise offering help. The medical staff is all remarkably kind and sympathetic. My father, before dying last year, was in several major Manhattan hospitals. Stony Brook is far superior. The caring culture that Dr. Pellegrino created lives on.

However, across Nichols Road is the main Stony Brook campus. The university’s early presidents, physicists, focused on it becoming a research institution. Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, who began in academia as an English professor, was president between 1994 and 2008 and endeavored to reform its undergraduate education. She told me the university was facing having Middle States Association lift its accreditation if this wasn’t done.  Dr. Kenny was succeeded by Dr. Samuel Stanley who is similar to the initial presidents.

It was Dr. Stanley who ordered the shuttering of Stony Brook Southampton this year despite  the state having spent $78 million on what was to be a satellite campus of Stony Brook U. offering, unlike the main campus, small classes, and be a teaching institution specializing in environmental education.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. of Sag Harbor has had the same experience with the Stony Brook University Medical Center that I’ve had. “My experiences have been wonderful,” he was saying last week, noting his mother was hospitalized there for six months before she died in January 2009. “It was a very difficult time and they were terrific.”

But the other side of the university, he noted, too, is another story. He said Dr. Stanley’s decision to close Stony Brook Southampton “behind closed doors in secretive ways very late in the year so the students had no options available,” and the “uncaring” manner in which they are still being dealt, is “appalling.” He has been calling for Dr. Stanley’s resignation and the transformation of the now forlorn Southampton campus into an independent SUNY college. Indeed, this is the only way it can again move toward its important potential.

Meanwhile, the health sciences side of Stony Brook continues to shine brightly. Dr. Pellegrino, now 90, who went on to become president of the Catholic University of America, is still championing humane health care. You can view on YouTube a presentation he gave last month on “medical humanities” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mrHEKt2HC8.

Thiele et al Sit Down With Stony Brook Over College’s Future

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By Bryan Boyhan

While local officials would like to see the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University become an independent college of the state university system, the Stony Brook University administration appears unwilling to give up the school they acquired four years ago. A meeting set for  Thursday between the two parties may lead to a resolution.

At least, said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele yesterday, he hopes they can find a way to keep the campus operating as a full time, four-year residential school.

Three weeks ago, Stony Brook University’s president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley announced he would be closing most of the campus, including the dormitories and recently renovated library, and move all programs except marine sciences classes and the masters writing program, to the main campus. The move, he said, was an effort to close a budget gap that has resulted from a dramatic cut of $54 million in state aid. The closure would result in an estimated savings of about $7 million.

Local officials, including Thiele, State Senator Ken Lavalle and Congressman Tim Bishop — all who helped shepherd the deal for the state to acquire the campus from Long Island University in 2006 — argue the plan disrupts the college careers of the nearly 400 students currently on campus, and the roughly 400 more who were expected there this fall. In addition, it removes from the East End the only local four-year school, and one with a much heralded progressive program in the sustainable sciences.

Two weeks ago Thiele and Lavalle were on campus with officials from the Town of Southampton to announce the town would be interested in buying the development rights for the 82 acres on campus, the revenues of which, they said, would more than satisfy the financial needs of the university. In addition, the officials proposed the school become independent of Stony Brook and requested a meeting with university officials.

Dr. Stanley agreed, and in a letter last week proposed today’s meeting, although he gave no indication they were willing to surrender the campus.

In the letter, Dr. Stanley and State University Chancellor Nancy Zimpher wrote: “We too are concerned about the future of Southampton and remain committed to its students. Most importantly, despite repeated claims to the contrary, the Southampton campus will remain open. To this end, we will maintain the Southampton location as a vital and vibrant site for teaching and research, most notably at the pioneering Marine Station, home of Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and through the renowned Southampton Writers Workshop. Currently, plans are in the works for several other SUNY campuses to make productive and expanded use of Southampton’s facilities.”

This week Thiele questioned the possibility of other state schools using the local campus.

“That’s been part of the party line for a while,” said Thiele. “But when you look at it, nothing has materialized.”

The letter also observes it costs about $30,000 annually to educate one student at the college.

“With SUNY’s tuition set at $4,970, and average State support for all campuses (excluding community colleges) of $5,500 per student, we are left with an unfunded balance of $19,530 per student,” the administrators write.

They further argue that Long Island University had a similar problem and were unsuccessful in balancing their budget.

Thiele dismissed the comparison between a private and public school, and said the underlying issue is political.

“Southampton is being used by SUNY,” the assemblyman asserted. “It’s all about their attempt to get control of their campuses’ tuitions.”

Thiele said the state university system has made a proposal for determining their own tuition rates for all the campuses, and in the last budget cycle did not even ask for more money, instead asking the state to pass legislation giving SUNY autonomy.

“That failed, and now they’re just going to hold their breath,” said Thiele.

Asked about his hope for today’s meeting’s outcome, Thiele said: “We want to talk about what we’ve proposed; but I’m willing to discuss any proposal that will keep the campus open as a full time, four-year school.”

Testing Faith

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Stony Brook’s decision to all but close its Southampton campus is not one only residents on the East End should be enraged by, but taxpayers state-wide as it represents a colossal waste of public money, and the opportunity for the state’s school system to develop what appears to have been a growing, and successful, campus in Southampton.

While Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. has released a statement saying the university remains committed to research and education at Southampton, in the cuts alone – the elimination of student and faculty housing, ending new undergraduate admissions, reducing the use of the 81-acre campus to just two buildings and the course offerings to marine sciences and the graduate writing program – Stony Brook has signed the death warrant on its Southampton campus. It is inconceivable to imagine the campus will once again flourish with such limited capabilities.

And it did appear to be on the verge of flourishing once again. According to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., who vehemently opposes these cuts, admissions applications are up over 50 percent and 800 students were ready to attend Southampton this fall, up from 200 in Stony Brook Southampton’s inaugural year in 2006, when state leaders helped broker the $35 million purchase of the school from Long Island University. That the students and educators who have begun to rebuild this campus have had the rug pulled out from under them in such a fashion is deplorable, particularly when it appears their hard work was actually paying off. 

Even worse, as when Long Island University was on the verge of selling off the campus for development five years ago, the loss of an institution of higher education will have dire economic consequences for the East End, not only in lost jobs, but also in the economic boost a university can provide commercial districts and the rental housing market.

The enormous waste of state monies – our taxpayer dollars – in this venture may be the most difficult to swallow. With Stony Brook’s assurances that they would not only maintain, but also expand the level of higher education on Eastern Long Island, the state legislature provided some $78 million of taxpayer dollars for the purchase of the campus and capital improvements. These improvements included completing the campus’s new library, refurbishing the entire campus, most of which will now be darkened, adding to the marine sciences department facilities and renovating the dormitories, now likely to never host students again. 

We call on state leaders – and it appears they are ready to do so – to prevent the closing of a university that is so much a part of our community and economy. Short of that, we demand Stony Brook and the SUNY system return the investment taxpayers willingly gave them, trusting the promises they made were in good faith. As things currently stand, our faith in Stony Brook University remains rocky at best.