A University President does not get a lot of time off, much less a summer vacation. But before she addressed the class of 2006 at the New Student Convocation, President Shirley Strum Kenny sat down for a Statesman exclusive.
During the one and a half hour interview she reflected on the past year, divulged some information regarding the new academic year and, most importantly, addressed the needs of students.
For Kenny, entering her eighth year at Stony Brook University, preparing for the influx of SBU’#146;s 20,000 students has become an annual rite. The task is one that she takes on with renewed vigor each year.
‘Fall is going to start out with a bang,’ Kenny said. ‘We have a lot of big events planned and a lot of fun stuff for the students. There will be a big celebration on Sept. 19, which will be Salute to Stony Brook Day, we have SAC Phase II opening, as well as, the stadium’#146;s formal opening.’
The 2001-2002 academic year was Stony Brook’#146;s 40th anniversary, but the celebration planned to commemorate it was planned for Sept. 11, and never took place. On Sept. 10, there will be a ceremony and garden dedication for the 22 individuals from the Stony Brook community who passed away in the tragedy. A University-sponsored nondenominational service will follow on Wednesday, Sept. 11 during Campus Life Time.
Another anticipated event is the opening of the Charles B. Wang Center, slated for October. Originally, the Wang Center was received as a $25 million project, and at that time was the largest single gift ever given to a public university.
Since its inception, the building plan has tripled in size and according to Kenny boasts many additional aesthetic treats.
‘It’#146;s glorious! This building is Charles B. Wang’#146;s vision. It is a building for all students,’ Kenny said. ‘We have many Asian students so the Center’#146;s focus makes it special’#133;It features a Pan-Asian architectural style, containing many pools and gardens.’
When it opens, the compound will contain a food court with up to six different stations serving Asian cuisines, and house cultural and scientific conferences as well as artistic performances.
President Kenny is proud of the University’#146;s recent expansions, both cultural and geographical. Last year, the campus branched out to New York City by establishing SBU Manhattan,which is designed to tie the University with New York City. A move that appears even more important when one considers that 45 percent of the incoming freshmen come from one of the five boroughs.
‘It will act like a Harvard Club, linking Stony Brook to the city,’ Kenny said.
The facility, located on one floor of a corporate building on Park Avenue, contains four classrooms, offices, and two conference rooms. The academic component of the satellite campus will include short courses and lecture series on a broad range of topics, including philosophy, history and global security. New York City is still the financial and media hub of the world, Kenny said, and fundraising and public relations elements are of vital importance
‘It gives us an ability to connect with alumni that live and work in NYC,’ Kenny said. ‘It will be easier for them to come out [to campus sponsored events].’
By encouraging alumni to donate generously, the President hopes to vastly increase the University’#146;s financial resources.
‘SBU is fairly new at raising external funds,’ said the President. ‘A capital campaign of $250 million or higher will be the goal’#133;[but] we haven’#146;t decided on [exactly] what the target is. You look for a capital campaign to give you the margin of excellence about which the state provides for.’
According to Kenny, this fund may be used to subsidize named professorships and endowed chairs, offset the costs of some building projects, provide additional research funds and expand scholarships to help bright students.
‘This is a golden year for us,’ Kenny said.