Before leaving office, former New York governor, Eliot Spitzer declared both Stony Brook University and the University at Buffalo as flagship institutes that would propel in research and would bring about economic development. However, with the new administration in place, the future of the whole SUNY system, including Stony Brook, is on hold.
‘Flagship status has been put on the back burner,’ confirmed President Kenny in an interview. She said that the real question at this time is how SUNY is going to deal with the budget cuts issued by the state. ‘We are on hold in terms of funding,’ Kenny said.
However, President Kenny did not completely ignore the status as a flagship university and reinforced that we are still a member of the Association of American Universities that consists of the top 62 public and private universities in North America. ‘In many ways, we are still a flagship, but Spitzer made a point of giving us the status officially,’ she said.
Spitzer had promised higher funding for both the SUNY institutions and had also called for a state lottery system that would create a $4 billion higher education endowment. Instead of gaining financial backup, however, SUNY witnessed the first budget cut of $50.6 million, out of which Stony Brook had to bear $6 million.
President Kenny has called for a budget advisory committee that will decide how to make these cuts on campus.’ The committee will make ‘decisions that will harm academic and research as little as possible,’ Kenny said.’ Recently, SUNY faced another big budget cut of $96.6 million. This was the biggest budget cut in history from any institution other than prisons. Kenny said that ‘the worst place you can cut money from is a university.’
She also urged everyone, including Stony Brook students, to let the governor know that this is not the place to cut. ‘It is very important that all of us let the governor know how important SUNY is and how strongly people feel for it.’
With the current budget, each SUNY campus has been granted permission for critical maintenance and one project.’ Stony Brook is choosing to build a Campus Recreation Center (CRC) for Stony Brook. This new facility, which will be located between the Sports Complex and the Student Union, is a $37.5 million project that will spread over 85,000 square feet.
Recognizing the future of Stony Brook under the new government, President Kenny said that Stony Brook’s national stature as a research institute is not going to suffer because this is only a one-year situation.
Kenny also said that to compete with other nationally recognized research institutes, Stony Brook University needs funding, which is going to be very difficult.
‘However, if this drags on, then it is going to get harder and harder to keep the status that we have worked so hard to achieve,’ she said.