Tag Archive | "Stony Brook University"

East End Supervisors Budget $200,000 for Wastewater Management Plans

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Southampton Town Supervisor allotted $100,000 in her tentative budget for 2015 to found a partnership with Stony Brook University. They intend to do nitrogen mapping in an attempt to prevent future toxic algal blooms, like the one that took place in Sag Harbor Cove, above, this summer. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and her East Hampton counterpart, Larry Cantwell, have both advocated for improving water quality on Long Island, and in their proposed budgets for 2015, each has allotted $100,000 to wastewater management plans.

Eastern Long Island lies over a sole source aquifer, meaning all of the drinking water in East Hampton and Southampton comes from one groundwater supply. There is no external source of water to import, and both private wells and “public water,” installed by the Suffolk County Water Authority, get their supply from the groundwater.

In his budget message, Mr. Cantwell said, “Management of wastewater is a challenge staring us straight in the eye.  The town needs to continue developing a town-wide wastewater management plan to address this key issue.”

“To date, the town through its staff and outside consultants has begun to gather, sort and analyze data that will eventually result in a comprehensive wastewater management plan for the town,” he continued.

According to East Hampton Budget Officer Len Bernard, the next phase is a continuation of the work Pio Lombardo of Lombardo Associates has been doing. Mr. Lombardo has written a draft wastewater management plan for the town, which includes neighborhood wastewater treatment centers and enforcing septic system inspections.

The management plan is concise and provides information for the many different areas of East Hampton Town and tentative solutions for each issue. “All the background numbers are done. Now they’re going toward specific actions with specific places,” said Mr. Bernard.

“I have included $100,000 in the tentative budget to begin the development of specific actions of the plan, recognizing that once the basic plan is completed and presented to the public, capital-funded construction and improvements will be required to carry out its recommendations,” Mr. Cantwell said.

“In order to reach that point, however, we need to fund the groundwork that must be performed now,” he said. That groundwork, Mr. Bernard said, will include the formation of “working groups” for different areas and neighborhoods. Those groups will have meetings Mr. Lombardo will attend in order to come up with appropriate wastewater management systems for each part of the town.

Mr. Cantwell also included an extra $10,000, for a total of $20,000, to go toward water quality testing in East Hampton.

This money, the supervisor said, is “for the specific purpose of performing more water quality testing to ensure water bodies that should be open are open and those that should be closed are closed, with the causes identified and mitigation plans established.”

According to Mr. Bernard, the water testing will be done jointly in conjunction with the East Hampton Town Trustees and will involve the same scientist they use for their testing, Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Ms. Throne-Holst put $100,000 into Southampton’s operating budget to fund a partnership with Stony Brook University that will seek to mitigate excessive nitrogen in town waters.

Dr. Gobler himself compiled the partnership proposal for the town, which has two main objectives. The first is to attempt to identify the amount of nitrogen that needs to be removed from specific waterways in order to improve water quality.

According to Mr. Gobler, “Recently, a series of serious water quality impairments have emerged within Southampton Town waters including harmful algal blooms that have led to declines in seagrasses and fisheries.” One of the prime causes identified as intensifying the algal blooms is excessive nitrogen loading.

In the past two years, thanks to support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Dr. Gobler has collected enough data to identify how much nitrogen loads must be reduced by in order to minimize the effect of toxic algal blooms on waterways and their ecosystems.

The second prong of this partnership will be to promote an awareness program about nitrogen loading for the residents of Southampton. According to Jen Garvey, Ms. Throne-Holst’s deputy chief-of-staff, some of Mr. Gobler’s doctoral students have developed a “nitrogen home footprint model.”

In this model, which will be available through the town website, homeowners can enter the size of their property, what fertilizer they use, the number of bathrooms, information about their septic systems, and so on. The model then estimates their household nitrogen output and offers personalized solutions for how to remove nitrogen from wastewater.

According to Dr. Gobler, “this proposal seeks to support the Town of Southampton within both efforts by enhancing public awareness of the nitrogen loading problem, how it has changed with time, and how they contribute to the problem, as well as by identifying specific nitrogen loading rate reduction strategies that will lead to improved water quality and ecosystems within Town of Southampton waters.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst Proposes $88.5 Million Budget for Southampton

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, pictured above, presented the Town’s Tentative 2015 Budget on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented Southampton Town’s $88.5 million proposed operating budget for 2015 on Tuesday, September 30.

“The 2015 tentative budget, and my previous four budgets, is based on the notion that sound financial footing is the bedrock upon which all town services rests,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

“The degree and quality for which the town can provide for public safety, safe and well maintained roadways, clean and accessible beaches, parks and public spaces—and a host of other services that support and improve the quality of life for our citizens depends on our ability to provide that sound financial footing,” she continued.

“I am proposing modest increases in both the operating and capital budgets—principally in the Highway and Public Safety Funds, while proposing offsetting reductions or revenue increases in other areas,” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst has included $695,000 in the budget in order to cover the salaries and benefits of eight new employees. The supervisor intends to hire one administrative position, an ordinance inspector, an environmental analyst, a maintenance mechanic, two police officers and two automotive equipment operators.

“In the past four years we have reduced overall staffing by about 15 percent,” the supervisor said. “However, as you all know, our town population continues to grow, and so then too, the need for services,” she continued.

The budget accounts for a 2-percent annual increases in salary and incorporates increases in employee contributions to health benefits, according to the supervisor. She added Southampton’s contracts represent “the most conservative increases in Suffolk County.”

The budget also includes funds for the town’s 375th anniversary celebrations and for a special prosecutor to focus solely on code enforcement issues.

Money has also been put aside to found a partnership with Stony Brook University in order to create a nitrogen mapping and awareness program, “as part of our overall effort to address water quality in our community and region,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

While the budget calls for an additional $3 million in spending, Ms. Throne-Holst said that steadily increasing revenues and appropriating modest amount from fund balances would offset the budget-to-budget differences and allow for no increase in the total tax levy.

“As anywhere else, our operating costs continue to rise, but fortunately our annual revenue to support the offset has grown as well,” she said. Mortgage tax revenue for 2014 is currently expected to be $1.2 million over the budgeted projection, she added.

Increased permit fees, fines and penalties have provided an increase in revenue as well, she said, as has the more aggressive prosecution of offenders. Combined, these revenues offset roughly $1.7 million of the $3 million in additional spending.

The budget as written proposes to draw the remaining $1.3 million needed to balance the budget from the town’s “very healthy fund balance.” The town’s fund balance is mandated to be 17 percent of the total operating budget; according to Ms. Throne Holst, the current balance is $29 million, which represents 32 percent of the budget.

She added, however, that she would be open to discussing the possibility of a 1.5-percent tax rate increase with the other members of the town board in the coming weeks.

“While my budget proposes a zero tax levy increase, New York State has offered municipalities incentives in the form of a rebate equal to the amount of any town tax increase up to the tax cap limit,” she said.

Governor Cuomo’s Tax Relief Rebate Program would entitle eligible taxpayers to a full rebate of their tax increase, which would translate to a zero increase to the taxpayer.

Ms. Throne-Holst proposed not to increase taxes because of how robust the fund balance is, she said, but also to not add to the tax base in future years. There is no guarantee the rebate program will continue in future years or that Southampton Town will be eligible in the future, she said.

She would be willing to consider the other option, to take advantage of the tax relief program, which could provide funding for future non-recurring projects. Ms. Throne-Holst explained the state program could fund additional necessary police and code enforcement vehicles as well as town fueling station upgrades and public safety communications equipment, all at no increased cost to the taxpayer.

“In such an option, homeowners would receive a tax rebate for the increase and the town would then benefit by not having to borrow or provide for them in future,” she explained.

“This is an option that warrants more discussion, and I look forward to evaluating the merits of utilizing this program with my colleagues as we move through the deliberative process and final budget adoption,” she said.

A series of public hearings and discussions regarding the tentative budget will take place over the next few weeks with the budget adoption slated for November 20.

Wind Partnership Announced

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The offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind announced on Wednesday it will join with Stony Brook University to launch a research initiative on the renewable energy source.

According to a release, Deepwater Wind hopes the partnership will support the development of the Deepwater ONE project, a proposed 210-megawatt offshore wind farm off the coast of Montauk.

Deepwater Wind will provide equipment and funding for Stony Brook’s coastal wind research programs. Two light detecting and ranging systems have already been deployed to the university’s Southampton Campus and to Block Island to collect data on wind, in order to improve their predictions and generate better local wind resource maps.

“This collaboration is truly unique in that it brings together the best science from a world-class research university with the resources of a leading offshore wind developer and the knowledge of one of the world’s most respected wind consultants,” said Dr. Brian Colle, professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

“Combining our respective resources and knowledge should bring some very helpful and informed findings,” he said.

“Offshore wind energy can provide a much-needed source of new, renewable energy for the East End of Long Island while reducing fossil-fuel emissions, stabilizing energy costs and generating new jobs and investment,” Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, said. “We are proud to support research that will lead to a far better understanding of this important resource,” he said.

“We need to have a more thorough understanding of the important role wind can play in power generation, and this collaboration is the first step in achieving that goal,” said Robert Catell, chairman of the board of the Center of Excellence for Advanced Energy and Research and Technology at 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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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 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.