“Complex institutions like universities don’t change easily. It is extraordinarily difficult to build new programs from vision through development to implementation. Southampton Graduate Arts has been spectacularly successful many times over in putting plans into action, and Stony Brook University is far better because of their relentless drive to realize their broad vision. We could all learn from their persistence and meticulous planning.”
— Charles Taber, Stony Brook University VP and Graduate School Dean, 2018
Southampton Campus Acquired by Stony Brook
Robert Reeves is hired by Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny in January 2006, and charged with building “strength in the creative arts” for the new Southampton campus. Reeves’ first hire in February 2006, is Carla Caglioti, to partner on the new arts enterprise.
Southampton Creative Arts Programs
Founding Principles: Creative inquiry into the human condition is equivalent to scientific inquiry, and offers similar benefits to individuals and to society. Creativity is becoming more important to our futures, not less.
Program design: Student-centered, project-driven, taught by the most distinguished practitioners in the world.
Position within the university: Creative Arts programs should be gathered together, not housed in traditional academic departments. The enterprising spirit of creative arts most closely resembles the culture of science research.
Procedure: Embrace change. Always innovate. Respond with intelligence and agility to the continuous disruptions to the creation and delivery of art in society and the marketplace.Tone: Creativity requires confidence and a sense of humor. Do not cower. Laugh whenever possible.
MFA in Creative Writing and Literature
Our flagship program, designed by Reeves and Caglioti, approved and registered by SUNY in May 2007.
Since then: Continuous growth in applications and enrollment. Recruited the premier creative writing faculty in the country. Established important secondary location in Stony Brook Manhattan (then at Park Avenue South), beginning the two campus design.
Project driven: The work itself is as important as the degree. A sterling record of student success.
Southampton Writers Conference
June 2007: The MFA in Creative Writing fully integrated into its curriculum the Southampton Writers Conference, an East End institution for 45 years, widely regarded as the premier literary conference in the country. In the last fifteen years, the Conference has served as a summer “term,’ offering MFA students the opportunity to study with world-renowned writers, including Nobel Laureates, Poet Laureates, winners of National Book Awards, Academy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Emmys, Tonys and Grammys. Christian McLean has served as Director for the last six years.
The Southampton Review
Founded Summer 2007: Central to the identity of the MFA in Creative Writing. Over time, phenomenal growth in number and quality of submissions from established and emerging writers, as well as visual artists. Founding Editor-in-Chief, Lou Ann Walker, and founding Publisher, Robert Reeves. The award-winning literary and arts journal celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2022.
Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP)
Founded 2008-2009: Teams of MFA students teach creative writing –playwriting, essay, fiction and poetry– to middle and high school students. Designed by Emma Hamilton and Will Chandler, YAWP began with a small number of local schools, and reached a pre-pandemic of 13 Long Island and New York City districts and 1000 students every year. Special programs reach underserved populations, including workshops at Shinnecock Nation, Brooklyn, and Harlem. Self-supporting through school payments for instruction and contributed income.
Children’s Literature Fellows
Founded August 2010: Our first “boutique” graduate program offering advanced training in a special discipline. Designed by Julie Sheehan and Emma Walton Hamilton. Students work with mentors to produce a manuscript ready for market. “Alternate Residency” program offers one summer residency in Southampton and one winter residency in Manhattan. Impressive record of student success: publishing, awards, and agent representation.
The Southampton programs first gathered as “Southampton Arts,” a plan developed by Reeves and approved by then Provost Eric Kaler. Building upon the success of the existing programs, the new vision included expanding locations beyond Southampton, as well as building new programs, undergraduate and graduate, both degree-granting and advanced training.
Minor in Creative Writing
Responds to enormous demand on West Campus for innovative creative arts instruction. Julie Sheehan extended the graduate in-the-practice model to undergraduate education. Begins three-campus design of the Southampton Arts enterprise. Steady growth since inception. Currently 120 undergraduates have declared a Creative Writing Minor. In Fall 2022, CW offered 52 courses and reached 776 students.
MFA in Film
MFA in Film approved Spring 2015 -- the first in SUNY system. Film program of future: small footprint, DIY sensibility, storytelling across platforms.
Designed and launched by Magdalene Brandeis and Reeves. First hire as Artistic Director: Christine Vachon, co-founder and principal of legendary indie film production company, Killer Films. The MFA in Film frequently makes “top programs” lists. Numerous student awards and festival honors.
The Food Lab
Founded 2015: Our first “incubated” program: leverages East End location and talent, including Executive Director Geof Drummond. Emphasizes Food Education, Food Policy, Food Media, Entrepreneur Training. First conference held June 2015. Virtually limitless opportunity for growth.
FoodLab Education initiative led by Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, supported by recently created FoodLab Education Fund.
Fall 2017: Founded by faculty novelists Meg Wolitzer and Susan Scarf Merrell. Our second "boutique" program.
Design: Highly selective manuscript-development program. Accepts only the most promising student novels from around the country and takes them to fully realized form.
High demand: Dozens of applications arriving from the best student writers in the nation and from around the world. Significant number of participant manuscripts getting representation and getting published. Scholarships supported by First Page Endowment Fund, established in 2021.
Minor in Filmmaking
First offered in 2017, sponsored by the Graduate Film programs, and created by Karen Offitzer.
Design: Delivering expository information through a short narrative film is a basic competency, not unlike first-year expository writing. Students shoot and edit a short film using a smart phone or similar device. Especially popular with science majors who create short documentaries explaining their research.
Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing and Film
Following the end of the SBU lease at Park Avenue South, Reeves, Caglioti, and Scott Sullivan, on behalf of the Southampton programs, identified a location, negotiated and funded a lease for a space dedicated to creative arts. In 2017, 535 8th Avenue was officially designated by SUNY as the Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing and Film, with Scott Sullivan as Director.
MFA in Writing for Television
Graduate Courses launched in Fall 2017 as part of the MFA in Film. High demand led to a proposal for a dedicated MFA. Perfectly positioned between MFA in CWL and MFA in Film Production.
Designed, launched and directed by our first TV Writing hire, Alan Kingsberg.
Program designed to place students in writers’ rooms. Students study with show runners, staff writers, executive producers, and observe actual writers’ rooms in action
Audio Podcast Fellows
Founded Fall 2018: Our third “boutique” advanced-training program.
First of its kind in an area of explosive growth. Audio podcast is on-demand radio programming, closely aligned to the future of storytelling and intellectual discourse. Program created and directed by Kathie Russo, in partnership with Frank Imperiale.
Design: Innovative in-the-practice model. Extremely high demand in its first five years, drawing applications from around the country and the world. An undergraduate course in podcasting was launched in 2021
BFA in Creative Writing
Approved June 7, 2018.
The second BFA in Creative Writing in the SUNY system and the first affiliated with an MFA in Creative Writing program. Leverages the strengths and prestige of the graduate programs and extends to a new population of incoming SBU students. Program design by Julie Sheehan, with Carla Caglioti spearheading SBU, SUNY, and NYSED approval.
The Lichtenstein Reeves Endowment Fund created and funded
Created in 2020 and funded by longtime supporter of the Southampton programs, SBU Board Trustee member, Dorothy Lichtenstein. The fund agreement, created by Reeves, is designed to ensure the long-term sustainability and financial stability of the Southampton programs, and also to support the creation of a new institutional identity.
Minor in TV Writing
Sponsored by the MFA in TV Writing and designed by Karen Offitzer, the new minor complements the existing undergraduate offerings, addressing a creative discipline of high interest and demand
The new umbrella identity for the Southampton creative arts enterprise, as envisioned in the Lichtenstein Reeves Endowment Agreement. The Center spans three locations and includes three MFAs, a BFA, two minors, and four advanced training programs. Home to over 145 grad students, over 200 declared majors and minors in Creative Writing, Film, and TV Writing, with over 120 students participating in advanced training every year.