STONY BROOK, N.Y., September 25, 2013 – During the 2013 State of the University Address held at the Staller Center for the Performing Arts, Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, welcomed new faculty and outlined for them the meteoric rise of Stony Brook University and transformation from a modest teachers college to a University that has global impact in the areas of education, research, and healthcare and economic opportunity. He spoke of Stony Brook’s important role in educating economically disadvantaged students, and how it ranks fourth among all AAU member institutions for the highest percentage of Pell grant eligible students, and how Stony Brook has the second lowest in-state tuition and fees among all AAU peers.
Based on crowd reaction, the highlight of the address was when President Stanley acknowledged that while the University is investing in key enabling disciplines such as imaging, informatics, genomics and information technology, he announced a $1M commitment to supporting cutting edge work in the humanities, social sciences and arts.
“As we all know, the federal government has slashed support for scholarship in the humanities, arts and social sciences,” said President Stanley. “We will continue to advocate for more funding for these critical disciplines, but in the meantime we must work to create a funding stream that will support our outstanding faculty and innovative programs in research and education … I am announcing today that we are committing $1 million to establish a fund to support scholarship in the humanities, social sciences and arts. This will be in addition to funds already provided by Provost Assanis to support these areas.
“[Funding key enabling disciplines] is vital,” he continued. “But I want to emphasize that it is absolutely imperative that we also support cutting-edge work in the humanities, social sciences and arts. The notion that a university can produce an educated citizen or have an impact on major societal problems without vibrant teaching and scholarship in the liberal arts is flat out wrong ... the humanities, arts, and social sciences are at the core of what makes a great institution. They really matter.“
President Stanley also announced $1M in new funding over the next four years for programs to support economically disadvantaged and under-represented minority students in the University’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).
“We have had extraordinary success in helping economically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students succeed in attaining their college degree,” said President Stanley. “EOP works, and EOP at Stony Brook works incredibly well, therefore I am pleased to announce a $1 million award to EOP for use over the next four years to improve and hopefully expand the program.”
He also pledged $250,000 for the University’s Turner Fellowship Program, which he characterized as one that supports outstanding graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, which has resulted in Stony Brook University producing more minority doctorates than any SUNY institution.
“This extraordinary program deserves additional support,” he said.
Dr. Stanley discussed the University’s focus on student academic success during a time of concern and turmoil regarding the future of higher education. He said thanks to the foresight of Governor Cuomo and New York State legislators, NYSUNY 2020 is enabling Stony Brook to grow faculty to provide a better student-to-faculty ratio, expand the number of classes and sections available to help with completion and to provide more opportunities for experiential learning and research.
“We are also using SUNY2020 funds to expand tutoring on campus, and are looking at renovating Melville Library to create more learning spaces,” he said.
He spoke out on finding ways to increase support for graduate students in the areas of helping to identify affordable housing resources and improving the quality of their experience at the University.
“Graduate students are an absolutely vital part of the research effort,” he said. “And if we are to grow our research expenditures, and push our economic development agenda (after all graduate students form more start-up companies than faculty), we must find ways to attract and retain the best and brightest graduate students at Stony Brook.”
He emphasized the importance of advancement and philanthropic investment in Stony Brook, recognizing the record-breaking fundraising that has taken place over the past three years, building on the generous gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation.
“I am proud to say [the Simons] were not alone in their support, and there are thousands of individuals who now are investing in this great institution,” he said. “I want to extend my thanks to each and every one of them. Their generosity is supported by the remarkable work of our Advancement Office, led by Dexter Bailey. We have much still to do, philanthropy is critical to our success, for it provides the margin for excellence. We could not recruit or retain outstanding faculty at Stony Brook without the help provided by endowed professorships and the gifts that support start-up funds.”
The President concluded his address by touching upon the importance of the Start-Up NY initiative, and emphasizing Stony Brook’s role in improving the economic growth, health and quality of life in the region.
“The new Start-Up NY program turns the Stony Brook University campuses, most importantly, the Research and Development Park, into tax free zones, where selected industries can locate and establish research or manufacturing enterprises without any State or local tax liability, (including corporate, property and personal income taxes). This program is designed to attract companies from out of state and to help start- up companies thrive in New York. The potential benefits to Stony Brook University and the Long Island region are enormous.”