Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley kicked off the 2013 Stony Brook Convocation today with its main event, the State of the University Address–Stanley’s fifth. After looking back at last year’s accomplishments and the university’s future plans, Stanley stated that “the State of the University in 2013…is strong.”
President Stanley made sure to highlight Stony Brook’s many key accomplishments, including gaining membership into the 62-member Association of American Universities, the establishment of the Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya and the success of Stony Brook athletics.
The address also focused on Stony Brook’s place in the world and how the University is expanding its role. Focusing on the different Stony Brook-affiliated campuses around the world, President Stanley pointed at the recently established SUNY Korea as an example of Stony Brook’s expansion, stating “Stony Brook is the founding institute of Songdo [South Korea] global campus, becoming the only American university accredited in Korea.”
But to the surprise of some, instead of focusing on the accomplishments of last year, President Stanley placed the most emphasis on the plans for improving Stony Brook University over the next decade.
As Stony Brook senior English major Andrew Meerwarth said, “obviously a speech like this is just kind of just touching on the best points of our university, but he not only talked about the good things we have done, but how we will do more things in the future.”
At the start of the address, President Stanley acknowledged the approximately 100 new faculty members coming to Stony Brook University this year. After a long applause for the new staff, he said, “I want you to accept this applause as a sign of our commitment to all of your academic endeavors.”
In the coming years, Stony Brook students can look forward to several new plans and additional funding for key programs at the university. President Stanley, as Meerwarth put it, “brought it back home with all these new grand designs that we have and the important scientific research we are doing.”
Stony Brook students can also expect a new core curriculum created by university faculty members. “Our faculty have created a new core curriculum designed to help our graduates for the world beyond the University,” President Stanley said.
This new plan, simply called The Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC), is expected to be in place by the fall of next year, according to a memo by the Stony Brook Curriculum Implementation Group. The curriculum is meant to replace the D.E.C. program currently in place.
President Stanley will also be providing an additional $1 million fund for students that are members of the University’s “Education Opportunity Program” (EOP). As President Stanley noted, “I believe that it is critical that we show support for EOP on this campus.”
One of the more surprising plans for the university, which is highly recognized as a research-based institute, is a plan to provide an additional $1 million fund to the school’s humanities, social sciences and arts departments for the proposed purpose of small grants.
“I want to emphasize that it is absolutely imperative that we also support cutting edge work in the humanities and social sciences,” President Stanley said.
One of the members of the audience who was surprised by this but deeply appreciative of the plan was Meerwarth.
“I didn’t expect him to talk about the humanities as much as he did. Often times, I think there is lip service given to the humanities,” Meerwarth said. “But he’s not only supporting the humanities verbally but also financially.”
The main improvements Stony Brook will see in the next decade will come from new buildings and renovations. For the first time, President Stanley revealed a ten-year plan to provide “critical renovations, new classroom spaces, new dormitories and dining facilities, a re-purposing of the South Campus to residential areas, with new homes for the School of Dental Medicine and a massive renovation of the Student Union.”
Plans were also revealed for the renovation of the Melville Memorial Library and for the start of construction of the Medical and Research Translation complex, or MART.
President Stanley jokingly noted that Stony Brook has come a long way since its “Mudville” times, as seen in Stony Brook’s many accomplishments.