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Shirley Strum Kenny
Shirley Strum Kenny, President




“It is certainly an appropriate time for such multifaceted success on campus, for 2007 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the little college that became Stony Brook University.”


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Presented in Fall 2006
Shirley Strum Kenny, President

This is the most exciting opening of school I can remember. There is a kind of electricity, a new pulse of energy. Every place I go I see more people than I’ve ever seen on campus, day and night, weekday and weekend. I hear more and more from faculty about how bright their students are. More students tell me how much they love Stony Brook, a sentiment I don’t remember hearing too often a decade ago. Our students are involved in activities; our athletic teams are beginning to win; we even have a marching band. Finally people can get to the Staller Center without facing inconvenient construction paths, and they are coming in droves.  By every measure—enrollments, quality of students, quality of the curriculum, curricular innovations, research initiatives, capital improvements, and fundraising—this is an extraordinary year. And most remarkably—it is a good budget year.

Moreover, we have every reason to hope, based on this year’s budget, that the future will prove better yet. It is certainly an appropriate time for such multifaceted success on campus, for 2007 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the little college that became Stony Brook University. We have many reasons to celebrate.

Let me just provide a few. First, our rising national and international stature is redefining our student body. This year we have the largest freshman class ever and the most students we have ever had (Chart 1). Enrollments are up about 500 students over those of last year, for a total of 22,500 students (Chart 2). The increases emanate from both sides of Nicolls Road. Nationally SAT scores declined by seven points; at Stony Brook SAT scores have risen by two points, despite that national decline, to an average of 1215 (Chart 3). So we not only attracted more students, we got better ones. This year we have 17 new freshmen who are National Merit Finalists and three Semifinalists, as well as five Intel Semifinalists, one of whom is a National Merit Semifinalist. We also have 17 valedictorians and 21 salutatorians among our new recruits.

For the first time SUNY’s Central Application Processing Center handled more applications for Stony Brook than for any other campus. Our freshman applications increased by a significantly greater percentage than the number of students admitted; there were more than 21,000 applications in all (Chart 4). The number of applicants has increased by two-thirds in ten years, and actually increased by 3,000 students since last year, from 18,000 to 21,000, an increase of 17 percent in a single year. As a result, our selectivity index—the percentage of applicants that we accept—improved dramatically (Chart 5). Ten years ago we admitted 58 percent of the applicants; last year we admitted 51 percent; this year it was 48 percent. Let me point out that a selectivity index of 50 percent is an important measure in judging the quality of institutions, so this year marks an important milestone for Stony Brook. Transfer selectivity also improved, from 61 percent last year to 53 percent this year. We have increased quality significantly, and this year’s statistics show how rapidly our heightened reputation is not only reflecting but probably affecting the quality of our students.

We have also dramatically increased the percentage of out-of-state undergraduates—from 6 percent of the freshman class ten years ago to 12 percent this year (Chart 6). Because we have a much larger class than we did then, we actually have more than three times as many out-of-state students. SUNY is encouraging an increase in out-of-state students, and Provost Robert McGrath has committed to increasing the out-of-state freshmen to 30 percent within five years; we are comfortably on track to reach that goal. Our doctoral students hail, of course, from many other states and countries. This year 45 percent of our new doctoral students are international, coming from 35 different countries. Overall we have students from more than 100 countries. Our master’s degree students, understandably, are more locally based since many master’s degrees are acquired by local teachers, business executives, and returning students.

The five health-related schools are flourishing, increasing undergraduate as well as graduate enrollments. The School of Medicine has determined to increase the size of its entering classes for the next five years because of the great demand for doctors.

Our curriculum has changed for the better. All our freshmen are now affiliated with undergraduate colleges, organized under six different themes. Every freshman takes a freshman seminar, an opportunity to explore academic interests, get to know top professors, and be introduced to research opportunities. The importance of freshman seminars should not beunderestimated—they were recommended by the Boyer Commission Report Reinventing Undergraduate Education at the Research University, which has been adopted by the best universities in the country. The undergraduate colleges and seminars will make a significant difference in retention and graduation rates.


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