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“The master’s program in creative writing is being offered this fall for the first time at Stony Brook Southampton. The program engages many of America’s best writers...”

 

 

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This year we have several new undergraduate academic programs, including an approved major in journalism in the first School of Journalism in SUNY. The program will give students experience in three media: print, broadcast, and the Internet. Because each of these media requires a different kind of writing and different shaping of materials for publication, the triple approach will set our students in good stead. They will also have opportunities for internships on Long Island and in New York City, and, I hope, eventually in Washington, D.C., and beyond, to give them real-life experience. Howard Schneider, who heads the program, is developing “the newsroom of the future” and populating it with first-rate practicing journalists including Marcy McGinnis, an Emmy Award winner and the former senior vice president for News for CBS, and Bob Greene, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Howie is also developing a course in News Literacy, which I firmly believe all students need—a course in critical reading to determine what is fact, what is fiction, and what is opinion, in an increasingly confusing journalistic mélange.

The master’s program in creative writing is being offered this fall for the first time at Stony Brook Southampton. The program, headed by Robert Reeves, engages many of America’s best writers, including essayist and novelist Roger Rosenblatt, former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, memoirist Frank McCourt, playwright and cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and acclaimed novelists Kaylie Jones and Ursula Hegi.

Stony Brook is intellectually and philosophically a product of the 1960s when federal support of research grew and universities began rearranging their priorities to meet the nation’s needs. Research has always propelled our campus, and now, appropriately, we have expanded our concept to the undergraduates’ “right to research,” as the Boyer Report calls it. But our major research productivity, particularly in the sciences and technology, continues to be the hallmark of this University. It is therefore of some concern that our total expenditures of research dollars slipped a bit this year (Charts 7 and 8). There are numerous reasons for that, some of which are a matter of circumstance, including the termination of certain grants, the beginning dates for others. Most distressing is the declining funding available at various federal agencies. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the federal research investment will continue to decline this year despite increases in the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy research budgets. Federal research funding peaked in 2004 and has fallen subsequently, the decline exacerbated by steep cuts in NASA, the Department of Defense, and other agencies’ research budgets for fiscal 2007. Despite a reduction in federal grant dollars awarded to universities nationwide over the past three years, we at Stony Brook are determined to increase our expenditures this year. In the Medical Center this will mean a greater emphasis on translational research, where funding streams are growing, at the same time that we continue our world-class basic research. Stony Brook has recently brought in more federal dollars than any other SUNY campus—and we plan to continue to excel.

Our faculty honors for research are impressive. Robert Aumann, a member of our Economics faculty, received the 2005 Nobel Prize for his work in game theory. Mathematician Dennis Sullivan received the 2006 Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the highest distinction given by the American Mathematical Society, after having been awarded the 2004 National Medal of Science. These are merely two of a very long list of honors recently received by our faculty.

Our facilities staff has worked hard to keep up with the needs of the campus, not only through new construction but through critical maintenance as well. Stony Brook has unique problems because our campus was built in the 1960s and ’70s, a period of brutalist architecture and substandard concrete; as a result, critical maintenance issues have now hit the entire campus. We have a veritable epidemic of spalling bricks and broken pavement. Many of our most important classroom spaces have been afflicted, and so has the infrastructure—hot water pipes have burst; unhealthy building materials had to be replaced; leaky roofs—we may lead the world in leaky roofs—had to be repaired; roads had to be made safe. The facilities staff had to address all those issues, prioritizing the most urgent and important needs because, as you know, it will take a long time and a lot of money to complete the needed repairs. The new SUNY five-year capital plan is based entirely on critical maintenance. We can certainly put our share of the money to good use.

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