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Shirley Strum Kenny
Shirley Strum Kenny, President

State of the University Address
September 17, 2003
Shirley Strum Kenny, President

This time of year, as I prepare for my annual State of the University message, I get the opportunity to think short term about what we have accomplished in the past year and long range about where we have come in the entire course of our history, and where we are going now. Every year I show statistical evidence to illustrate what I am saying, but in a lot of ways the statistics, accurate as they are, cannot give a full picture of Stony Brook.

Often in talking about our University I use the phrase “so far, so fast”—that is, in only 41 years this campus has come “so far, so fast”—to describe what a great institution we have.

Together we have created a miracle on Long Island, a hub for economic, social, cultural, ecological, and medical life, a research institution respected and admired around the world, an academic institution that gives the brightest an opportunity to study with the best, even if they cannot afford the most expensive. Our student body keeps growing and getting better; our research dollars continue to grow; we’re about to launch our first capital campaign; our faculty are world-class. And we’re not about to slow down now.

Let’s begin with the budget. Stringent State budgets were not a surprise to us; the devastation in the wake of September 11, 2001, left no doubt that the tax base of the State would decline. We suffered far more, individually and as a nation, in other ways, but our institution was bound to be hit economically. The cuts we could see coming certainly arrived. Last year we had a midyear cut that, we were told, would double this year, but that has not yet happened. The administration prepared well last year and sustained the midyear cut. To be ready to meet this year’s cuts, we delayed equipment purchases and postponed replacement hires. And we’re going to be okay. Tight, but okay.

Let’s look at what has happened to the budget over recent years. First, State tax support is only 60 percent of the state allocation; tuition comprises 40 percent of the total (Chart 1); 15 years ago tuition was a mere 16 percent, and ten years ago, it was still less than 20 percent. So yes, the students are paying a bigger percentage of the costs of their education, and State tax money is paying a considerably smaller proportion. If you look at our total operating resources, you see that tax support is only 10 percent of the total from all funding sources (if you add in State fringe benefits, it is 15 percent); health care is now 58 percent, and self-sustaining operations such as residence halls and food service are greater than tax support (Chart 2). Even more surprising, perhaps, is the fact that research dollars brought in from outside sources have surpassed tax support as a funding source for our work (Chart 3).

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