Abridged Conceptual Framework

Stony Brook University

The State University of New York (SUNY) has sixty-four campuses distributed across the state and is the nation’s largest public institution of higher education. SUNY has 418,000 full- and part-time students enrolled in over 7,650 degree and certificate programs. SUNY enrolls 40 percent of all New York State high school graduates, and its total enrollment represents 37 percent of the state's entire higher education student population. The sixteen SUNY institutions that offer teacher education programs graduate 6,000 certified teachers annually. These account for one quarter of all teaching certificates granted by the State Education Department to students completing registered programs.

Stony Brook University, the crown jewel in the SUNY system, is located in Suffolk County on the North Shore of Long Island, about sixty miles east of New York City. The university was established in 1957 as the State University College on Long Island for the preparation of secondary school teachers of mathematics and science.In the early 1960s, Governor Rockefeller and the chancellor and trustees of the State University designated Stony Brook as one of four University Centers and charged it with pursuing national prominence. Stony Brook is the only such research center in the Long Island/New York City metropolitan area, and, with more than 14,000 employees, it is the largest single-site employer on Long Island.

In the fifty-two years since its founding, the university has grown in quality, intellectual breadth and stature, and it is now a world-class research university comparable to the flagship campuses of major state universities across the country. In 1995, the National Research Council ranked Stony Brook as the leading public research university in the northeast, and the Carnegie Foundation has identified Stony Brook as one of the nation's seventy leading research institutions. The Rise of American Research Universities ranked Stony Brook right after the University of California at Berkeley as one of the best public institutions of higher learning in the United States1.

Funding for Stony Brook's research programs has grown faster than at almost any other university, making it the major research campus in the SUNY system. In 2001 Stony Brook was invited to join the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization representing North America’s 62 major research universities. As a highly regarded comprehensive Research I university, Stony Brook is recognized as one of the leading public universities in the United States with several of its departments, including Mathematics and Physics (which are home to several of our programs) consistently ranked among the most distinguished programs in their disciplines.

Since 1957, the Stony Brook faculty has grown from about 175 to more than 1,900, and its student body has grown from 148 to over 24,000. The number of students applying to Stony Brook has grown dramatically in recent years, and the quality of our students has steadily increased. The entering freshman class for the 2008-2009 academic year has 2,800 students with a combined mean SAT score of 1221.

Suffolk County has the largest Hispanic population in the state outside New York City; its Asian population has more than tripled in the past two decades; and our undergraduate, master’s and professional certificate programs, which draw most of their students from the New York metropolitan area, reflects the diversity of the region. Nearly one quarter of the 2008 freshman class come from homes where languages other than English are spoken, and nearly half of all full-time graduate students are native speakers of other languages. The inauguration of the Stony Brook University Manhattan site has further strengthened the University’s presence in New York City, while the opening of the Southampton campus has created a learning community focused on environmental sustainability, public policy, and natural resource management that draws on our established strengths in these areas. No teacher education and educational leadership programs are offered at the Manhattan or the Southampton campuses.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Stony Brook and SUNY describes Stony Brook’s distinctiveness, its demographics, faculty development and scholarship, inter-campus collaboration, and the development of its infrastructure and technology.

The mission that has guided the University during this period of growth has been to:

  • Provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality;
  • Carry out research and intellectual endeavors of the highest international standards that advance theoretical knowledge and are of immediate and long-range practical significance;
  • Provide leadership for economic growth, technology, and culture for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region;
  • Provide state-of-the-art innovative health care, while serving as a resource to a regional health care network and to the traditionally under-served;
  • Fulfill these objectives while celebrating diversity and positioning the University in the global community.

As part of this strategic plan, Stony Brook has re-committed increased funding and resources to its original mission of teacher preparation. Stony Brook University’s paradigm for teacher education and educational leadership diverges from that found in most other institutions. Its uniqueness and strength are inherent in its university-wide, distributed model that places its teacher education and educational leadership programs in their respective academic departments. This departmentally-based model ensures academic rigor in the discipline, the integration of pedagogical theory and practice, and close contact to faculty and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, as proposed in the Boyer Commission Report on recommended enhancements in undergraduate programs located at Carnegie Category I Research Universities. Education faculty appointments within their respective academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences provide fertile academic environments for research and scholarship. Faculty and teacher candidates engage in a range of department-based experiences that include research-based learning, scholarly investigations, broad use of technology and multimedia, and professional development activities with both colleagues and peers.

Education faculty are also members of the Professional Education Program (PEP), which was established to coordinate the Stony Brook teacher education and educational leadership programs and to promote academic, professional, scholarly and intellectual excellence in the preparation of P-12 professionals.

PEP’s purpose is to bring together the diverse educational units on our campus, each one a part of an academic department, and form them into a coherent unit with common principles, goals, outcomes and assessments. PEP promotes cross-disciplinary discourse and curriculum development, and it brings faculty and teacher candidates together for joint exploration of shared concerns, goals and visions. PEP provides a forum for faculty to broaden the diverse disciplinary and pedagogical perspectives of their programs, and it creates opportunities for the cross-fertilization of pedagogic ideas and practices for both faculty and their teacher candidates.

The PEP paradigm for teacher education and educational leadership provides a framework that promotes professional excellence and growth for faculty and teacher candidates, fosters diverse disciplinary perspectives and learning communities, and cultivates lifelong inquiry and learning, leadership, and professional service. Each teacher education program brings forth its own unique disciplinary perspectives and approaches into PEP for joint research and investigation of shared concerns for teacher candidates and alumni. Our paradigm strengthens the integration of disciplinary content and pedagogy within and across departments. It enhances appreciation of diverse academic perspectives, and it strengthens collaborative partnerships. This is the context that drives our conceptual framework and our goals in building a united, yet inherently diverse, professional community that includes faculty, teacher candidates, alumni, educational personnel and P-12 students in partnering schools. PEP provides a unifying vision and philosophy; it fosters a cohesive approach to research-based curriculum design and assessment; and it ensures unified programs for fieldwork and clinical practice.

1.Hugh D. Graham and Nancy Diamond, The Rise of American Research Universities: Elites and Challengers in the Postwar Era (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).