Stony Brook University today completed its purchase of the former Southampton College for $35 million, taking possession of the 82-acre property, where it plans to develop academic programs focusing on the environment and its sustainability. The purchase, hailed by East End community leaders and public officials, ushers in a new era for Stony Brook Southampton, as the campus will now be known.
"Stony Brook Southampton today begins an exciting new chapter in the history of SUNY," said SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan. "Students and faculty from around the SUNY System now have access to world-class academic, scholarship and research opportunities in marine sciences, the environment, health sciences and the arts."
He added: "Stony Brook Southampton summer academic and cultural programs will attract leading artists and scholars from around the globe and add luster and brilliance to the State University's reputation and greatly enhance the culture and economy of the Eastern Long Island community."
"This is an extraordinary day for Stony Brook and for the people of the East End," said Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenny. "Stony Brook Southampton will be a place where the critical issues of the environment and ecology will be explored in interdisciplinary programs that attract students from across the nation. These environmental issues are crucial to the planet, to the region, and, particularly, to Eastern Long Island."
Kenny also announced that the public is invited to an "opening celebration" of Stony Brook Southampton on Saturday, October 14 from 11:00 AM-2:00 PM at Chancellor's Hall.
In addition to Chancellor Ryan, Dr. Kenny praised State Senator Ken LaValle, who secured the legislative funding for the purchase of the property from LIU, Congressman Tim Bishop, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick A. Heaney, and other local and legislative officials for their support of the agreement.
"As chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I am extremely pleased and that the shared vision of two great universities has resulted in the expansion of one of the highest ranking public education institutions in the nation," said Sen. LaValle. "Stony Brook University's presence on the East End will greatly enhance program offerings and provide local residents with affordable and respected educational opportunities."
Approximately 200 students are taking courses at Stony Brook Southampton this Fall, including those already enrolled in the existing undergraduate Marine Sciences program which Stony Brook absorbed from Long Island University last year. About 2000 students are expected to enroll within five years.
The purchase completes a series of steps Stony Brook took to preserve the campus for educational purposes after LIU announced in 2004 that it would close its programs at Southampton.
In February, 2005, the acclaimed marine science undergraduate program at Southampton College was transferred to Stony Brook's Marine Sciences Research Center, which already offered a prestigious graduate program. In September, 2005, the SUNY Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the campus as negotiations began in earnest. Stony Brook and LIU reached a final agreement on the conditions of the purchase in March.
The sale includes the purchase of 42 buildings; the academic and other major facilities consist of art studio buildings, residence halls, and classroom and library buildings. Stony Brook will begin to make infrastructure improvements on the property, including the renovation of residence halls, completion of the library, and refurbishment of academic and administrative buildings.
The campus will offer primarily undergraduate courses that will be shaped and taught in an interdisciplinary fashion, addressing issues regarding the environment and ecological sustainability. For instance, students will not only study environmental and ecological topics, but also will focus on political, economic and social issues related to the environment.
"The environment and sustainability are the most critical issues for the 21st century," Dr. Kenny said. "It will be an extraordinary opportunity for students to help shape our response to the global challenges we face."
In addition to the Marine Sciences program and the programs related to the environment, Stony Brook will offer an MFA creative writing program, headed by Robert Reeves, who directed the writing program at Southampton for LIU. The Writers Conference, a 30-year institution on the East End, annually attracting leading authors and artists from across the country, was held at Stony Brook University last month, and will return to Southampton next summer. Stony Brook also plans to offer courses and events at Southampton related to its Center for Wine, Food, and Culture.
Earlier this month, Dr. Kenny named Martin Schoonen Interim Dean of Stony Brook Southampton. Dr. Schoonen is currently Stony Brook's Associate Vice President for Research, and Professor of Geochemistry in the Department of Geosciences. He has been a member of the faculty since 1989.
The acquisition marks a milestone in Stony Brook's regional expansion as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2007. The University plans to break ground on a new Research & Development Campus, adjacent to the Stony Brook campus, later his year. Dr. Kenny has already announced plans to expand the administrative and classroom space for Stony Brook Manhattan.
The University is currently conducting a $300 million capital campaign, which recently attracted a $25 million contribution-the largest single cash gift in Stony Brook's history and, in fact, the largest single cash gift ever given to any SUNY institution-from the foundation of former Mathematics Chair Jim Simons and his wife, Marilyn. At present, $190 million has already been raised.