Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley excited students and faculty alike at his State of the University address on Sept. 16 with the announcement of several plans for the upcoming year, including brand new plans to renovate Melville Library this winter, a $19-million renovation of the Student Union and the continuing construction on the new Toll Drive residence hall.
Along with accolades to Stony Brook’s highest scholars and award-winning professors, Stanley welcomed a number of new faculty members, apprising them that Stony Brook is “absolutely committed to your success.”
Stanley opened the address by welcoming new faculty and expressing gratitude for the work of those leaving the university this year. Stanley praised his faculty, calling them “absolutely critical” to the university’s success.
“This is the most distinguished faculty in SUNY,” Stanley said. “It’s also one of the most distinguished faculty in the world.”
He announced that Stony Brook is now the seventh most selective public university in the Association of American Universities and that of its 25,000 students, the quality is the highest it has ever been in terms of SAT scores and GPA. Though U.S. News & World Report ranked the university as the 37th best public university in the country, Stanley said the goal for Stony Brook is to be among the top 20 universities in the United States in upcoming years.
“We can do better,” Stanley said as he revealed for the first time plans to renovate Melville Library. The project, set to begin in December and conclude before the beginning of the next fall semester, was met with a cheer of approval from the audience as computer-generated images of the future look of the library appeared on a slideshow behind the president. New furniture, upgraded learning spaces and “lots and lots of electrical outlets,” Stanley said, were just a few of the innovations the new “Knowledge Commons” would feature.
“It’s fun to hear about the exciting things that are happening,” Anna Sweet, senior budget analyst at the university, said. “The Melville Library being redone is really cool. From our perspective, it’s all very exciting being able to look forward to managing new projects and things of that nature.”
“These great students and this great faculty needs facilities and infrastructure to help them succeed,” Stanley said as he applauded the opening of the new computer science building.
Stanley also noted progress on the new Medical and Research Translation building and hospital pavilion which will include the Children’s Hospital.
“It’s going to change the face of the East Campus,” Stanley said about the $480-million project — one of the largest Stony Brook has ever taken on.
Stanley outlined several new initiatives to address social issues around campus, such as HeForShe to promote gender equity, the Green Dot program to end violence on campus, StandUp to stop bullying and Safe Space for LGBT students.
Stanley then shifted his focus to income equity and the commitment Stony Brook has to its Educational Opportunity Program students. While noting that Consumer Digest ranked Stony Brook among the top five U.S. public colleges and universities offering the most academic value per dollar, he placed importance on access to education, calling the economic and social mobility of students a “core part of our mission.”
“I think Stony Brook is going in the right direction,” Cordia Beverley, the assistant dean for community health policy at Stony Brook’s School of Medicine, said. “As a resident of New York state and as a faculty member, I’m very proud of what we are accomplishing here.”