When Oliver Street III leaves Stony Brook University on Oct. 28, he will leave behind a lot more than just his office on the Melville Library’s third floor. He will also be leaving behind his post as the director of the Honors College, which he has held since August 2010.
Street, known to some as “Trey,” is leaving Stony Brook to assume the position of assistant dean of student services in the School of Journalism at West Virginia University. In his new position, Street will manage and oversee the West Virginia University School of Journalism’s student services, such as academic advising, recruitment and retention, internships and career placement.
Street also said that he has been tasked with creating a political communications course at West Virginia University. Although he did not study journalism and is not a journalist by profession — he instead majored in international politics and relations during his time at Georgetown University — Street believes that he is up to the task.
“Many people who are involved in journalism didn’t major in it,” Street said. “Communications are at the heart of journalism.”
However, according to Maryanne Reed, the dean of West Virginia University’s School of Journalism, Street’s credentials in student service had played an important part in his selection.
“We selected ‘Trey’ through a competitive process and we were very impressed with the variety of experiences in the student services field,” Reed said. “We are particularly excited about his work with the Honors program at Stony Brook, since one of our goals is to attract and retain high-caliber students.”
In relation to his role at Stony Brook, Street says that “there are many things that have strengthened academic rigor and our reputation, and all these things have contributed to a sustainable and vibrant Honors College.”
But for some students of the Honors College, which Street calls a “vocal minority,” Street’s legacy may not be so fondly remembered.
“First off, it was not a ‘vocal minority’ who was unhappy, it was a silent majority who was unhappy, including a substantive number which was calling for his resignation,” said Deborah Machalow, a senior political science and economics double major in the Honors College as well as the Executive Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government, or USG. “The only reason more students did not speak up was because they were afraid of ‘Trey’ and what he could do to them.”
The end of Street’s role as director of the Honors College marks an important development in a controversial struggle between Honors College students and administration regarding the resequencing of the five seminars that Honors College students must now take in order: HON 105, 106, 201, 301, and 401.
“As much as I loathe to admit it, I was the student on the committee that selected him,” Machalow said. “I don’t think I can elaborate on the hiring process, but he interviewed quite well, and I never would have expected this.”
The changes in the academic requirements for the Honors College instilled a fear of delayed graduation among current members of the program, who, according to Machalow, “need an environment that encourages academic excellence, including the flexibility to create our own schedules.”
“The biggest problem was the complete disregard for student input, student opinion, and student needs,” Machalow said. “It seems irrational to tell students, who were told about their academic program one, two or even three years before that suddenly the requirements have been altered and that they had absolutely no say in the matter.”
The decision to enforce the mandatory sequencing, which Street said has been in the curriculum since 1989, was approved by the university’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee in October 2010. Street said that a building of cohort and a facilitation of dialogue between students in the same year are among the positive effects of the resequencing.
“There was always a speed limit of 55, just not a cop on that street,” said Street in reference to the mandatory sequencing that was outlined in the curriculum.
Beginning Nov. 1, Jessica Klare, a senior staff assistant with the University Scholars program, the Living Learning Centers and Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA), will serve as the interim Honors College director and provide advising for Honors College students in the 2012 and 2013 classes while a replacement for Street is found. According to Klare, many things still have yet to be determined, such as who will sit on the committee, the qualities the committee is looking for in its candidates, and approval from school administration to conduct the search.
Regardless, Street says that his positive interactions with students and faculty are among the things he will remember most about his time at Stony Brook.
“While I am sad to leave the Stony Brook community, I am grateful for the time I spent here and I am excited to see what the future will bring,” Street wrote in an email to Honors College students.