Stony Brook Southampton



“Stony Brook Southampton [is] a campus with such promise for the future that I predict it will provide a model for other institutions.”

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We have, of course, been raising funds on our own. The Stony Brook Foundation Endowment Fund is now almost seven times the size it was 14 years ago. Our total assets in the Foundation have increased almost tenfold, from $21.5 million to $201 million.  In 1993-1994 we raised about $4 million; in 2007-2008, the number was almost $50 million. The Capital Campaign, now in its seventh year, will raise more than its goal of $300 million by the end of this academic year. We now award more than eight times as many dollars for merit-based scholarships, thanks in large part to the work of the Stony Brook Foundation. We have also received—yet again—the largest gift ever given to SUNY, an honor first captured by the Charles B. Wang Center and now by the new Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, given by our former chair of Math Jim Simons, and his wife and former doctoral student Marilyn Simons. Two other former faculty members, Henry and Marsha Laufer, will soon announce a major gift for a new Center in Computational Biology and Genomics.

Once in a while, I have a vivid memory of times past. It happened to me recently when we were opening the spectacular new Phase One of the Hospital Major Modernization, and there, in a flash before my eyes, were vivid images of The Scaffolding—the multilevel eyesore that held together the Health Sciences Center from 1988 to 1998. There it sat for ten years, most of them before I was here, to hold the cladding to the building because the builders had substituted for the stainless steel tie wires an inferior product that soon rusted through; the scaffolding kept the great blocks sheathing the building from crashing down. Then there was the Bridge to Nowhere—that Bridge did begin to crash down.

In 1994 the central campus Mall was an enormous—enormous!—splay of blacktop, from one edge to the other. I was told it was blacktopped so that the crew wouldn’t have to mow the grass, but I haven’t had that verified. The only distraction was a squat, broken pedestal for—something; I never knew whether it had held up a statue or a fountain or a sundial, and in fact, it was a really ugly pedestal. There was no sign of a flower. No students. No faculty. No indication that life existed in these precincts. I mention that because now it is so pleasant to walk on campus, greet one’s colleagues, run into students, dodge skateboards and bikes, and notice what is in bloom. There was a point at which I was at Berkeley and came out of my meetings to see hundreds of students enjoyed the sunlight on campus; I wished our campus was as full of sun-soaked students as theirs. Well, now it is. Students do enjoy the amenities of the physical campus, and we also have an incredible Student Life staff, who has brought this campus alive with activities.

In 1996, faced with the unrelieved blacktop desert, we enlisted Green Teams of faculty and staff to begin to plant and care for our own gardens. We also put tables and chairs around the Academic Mall. And by April 2000, the blacktop had been supplanted by our current Mall and we celebrated with our first Fountain Fest. The decision to redesign the Mall was a practical one: We didn’t have the money to replace or reface the neo-penal buildings—we could only afford to divert the eye. 

Far more remarkable, of course, if not as controversial, is the number of new and renovated buildings that we have managed to construct in these 14 years. I’ve donned a lot of hard hats in my time. First came SAC, Phases I and II, followed by the Centers for Molecular Medicine, the Heavy Engineering Building, Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, the West Apartments, the Child Care Center, the Charles B. Wang Center, the Humanities Building, the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), and for our new School of Journalism, the Newsroom of the Future. The Hospital expanded with its Ambulatory Surgery Center, the Cancer and Imaging Center, and Phase I of the Major Modernization. There was also a stunning renovation of the Avram Theater at Southampton, thanks to a gift from the donor, and we are completing the Library there that had been begun before we purchased the property. Now in progress is the new space for Biomedical Engineering and the major renovation of the old Chemistry Building, as well as design for the new Energy Center. For student life, we are completing residence facilities for 600 more students, the renovation of Roth Cafeteria, and the design—finally—for the Student Recreation Center. Outdoors, we created the Staller Terraces, the Administrative Circle garden and fountain, the new entrance drive, Javits Plaza, and many road improvements. One of the most amazing facts is that despite all the new gross square footage on campus, some 16 percent in total, in the past six years our crackerjack Facilities team has managed to restrain electricity usage to an increase of only 6 percent, and they actually decreased gas and steam usage by 24 percent and water by 38 percent. Absolutely amazing!

But, of course, our footprint has spread far beyond our 1,100 acres on the Stony Brook campus. First came Stony Brook Manhattan, all 15,000 usable square feet, now expanded to twice that size. Next came the new Incubator space at Calverton, complete with 50 acres of land. Then we really got serious about what one wag called our “Manifest Destiny” policy. We added 246 acres for the new Research and Development Park; that land and that mission will prove to be one of the most important strategies for economic development on Long Island. The first building, CEWIT, is ready for business, and we are beginning to build the second one, for energy innovation. In all, there will be ten buildings focused on critical areas of research and development such as biomedical, ecological, and transportation research.

And finally came Stony Brook Southampton, a campus with such promise for the future that I predict it will provide a model for other institutions. It is not just its ecological sustainability mission; it is also the design of the curriculum, the pedagogical innovations, the interdisciplinarity, and the interaction of students with faculty and administrators as well as the community. This will be a widely emulated learning environment of the future.

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