The Stony Brook University sign on Main Campus. Stony Brook was formally designated as a flagship public university of New York State by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Jan. 5. JOCELYN CRUZ/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University (SBU) was formally designated as a flagship public university of New York alongside the University at Buffalo (UB) during New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first annual State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

Prior to being named joint flagships, SBU and UB were two of the State University of New York (SUNY) system’s four “university centers,” along with Binghamton University and the University at Albany. Hochul’s proclamation officially elevates the pair as New York’s two most premier public universities.

“Our ambition, as leading public research universities, is to grow our combined annual research expenditures to bring jobs, innovation and renown to New York State,” Stony Brook President Maurie McInnis said in a statement to The Statesman. “This recognition by the State of New York will strengthen our mission to deliver the benefits of our research, clinical care and education locally, regionally, nationally and globally. We thank Governor Hochul for her decision to designate our campus as one of two SUNY flagships.”

To emphasize her dedication in strengthening SBU and UB to the level of their equivalents in other states, Hochul announced $100 million in funding for the construction of a new multidisciplinary engineering building at Stony Brook and $102 million for a new building at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Stony Brook and Buffalo are currently the only New York public schools in the Association of American Universities (AAU), an exclusive organization of 66 North American research universities.

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With the official flagship designation, Hochul’s goal is for Stony Brook to receive $1 billion annually in federal research funding by 2030, which is more than two times its current level and among the top 20 national public universities. She pointed out the disparity in research expenditures between New York’s university centers and schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin, hoping that turning Stony Brook and Buffalo into flagships will help close that gap.

The initiative also lists increasing athletic competitiveness through investment in Women’s and
Men’s Division [I] teams” as a supporting element.

“The excellence and reputation of a public flagship university attract and retain the world’s best faculty and students, elevating the educational experience as a whole, bringing an influx of national and global talent to the region and state, securing federal investments in academic research that tackles pressing societal problems, and catalyzing growth and innovation across business and industry,” Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said in a joint statement.

Hochul expressed lesser goals for the future of Binghamton and Albany, seeking just $500 million in annual research funding and “transforming” them into research and teaching universities.

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Hochul also announced that SBU would be partnering with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to launch Neuro AI, a field that combines artificial intelligence with neuroscience through machine learning. New York will further expand SBU’s Center for Clean Water Technology to create the Suffolk County Wastewater Management District, which is targeted to protect the Long Island aquifer system.

“We strongly support and applaud the Governor’s visionary agenda to move our higher education system to new heights — to attract the best and the brightest minds to our world-renowned campuses and universities, educate and train our future workers and leaders, and to continue to provide opportunity and access that our university system was built on decades ago,” the SUNY Board of Trustees said in a statement to The Statesman.

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