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Oct 28, 2012 9:03 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Stony Brook Southampton Writing, Marine Science Programs Praise Hospital Addition To Campus

Nov 2, 2012 12:42 PM

For more than a year, Southampton Hospital officials have been touting the benefits they say a move to the Stony Brook Southampton college campus could bring, such as an infusion of new graduate-level courses in the health care and health technology fields, and new life in the campus dorms.

Now that the hospital has officially unveiled its intentions to build a new state-of-the art hospital on the campus via a stronger partnership with Stony Brook University—a facility that Southampton Hospital President and CEO Bob Chaloner has said he would like to be built within five years—leaders in the existing writing and marine science graduate programs on the campus have spoken out in favor of the move.

In addition, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, two key figures behind the hospital’s move and the planned revitalization of the campus, said that two leading ideas for sites for the new hospital on the campus are on its northern side, near the railroad tracks and County Road 39, one where a shuttered sports complex sits and the other in place of unused playing fields.

The plans mark a significant turnaround from just two years ago, when Stony Brook axed most academic programs in a move blamed on significant state budget cuts. With a medical center and health education added to the campus, it is likely certain dormant features, such as the campus library, will be reopened.

“Basically, the hospital, they keep people alive, and the arts, we make life worth living,” Robert Reeves, the longtime director of the university’s graduate writing program, said from his office in Chancellors Hall.

Mr. Reeves said the health education and health technology component brought from a new hospital would bring another “wonderful anchor graduate program” to the campus. The campus currently houses Master in Fine Arts programs in creative writing and literature, as well as theater, and a new film program has been brought aboard.

“Now we’re going to unfurl it in a dramatic way,” he said of the film program.

The Southampton Review, a publication of fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry and visual art from top talents, is also a hallmark of the campus.

Meanwhile, marine science professor Dr. Chris Gobler also spoke favorably of the hospital move, noting it would bring an influx of new building and infrastructure to the campus, including a wastewater treatment facility, which he said is needed for any additional expansion on the campus.

More specifically, the marine science program could benefit because the hospital has many instruments that could have applications within the marine sciences, he said, noting that his research currently uses multiple facilities at the main hospital at Stony Brook.

A cafeteria is another feature all could enjoy. “A hospital on campus could also take some of the pressure off of the current academic programs with regard to financial considerations,” he said. “That is, instead of the fiscal bottom line being the sole responsibility of marine sciences and the writing program, the burden could be shared by the hospital, which is likely to have a greater means for income than simply student tuition.”

Mr. Thiele noted that the move could provide valuable training for certain health care professions, such as nursing, lab technicians and health information technology. Because the high cost of living on the East End makes it difficult to attract health care professionals here, the ability to train people in those fields right in Southampton could serve to recruit and retain them.

“The main focus is creating a kind of intellectual energy on the campus, which certainly doesn’t exist today because the campus is underutilized,” he said. Five years from now, the campus will be a “beehive” of education and economic activity, he said.

Mr. LaValle noted that Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, after “stubbing his toe on Southampton” and having gotten “bad advice” when he first became president, has now put a lot of energy into enlivening the campus.

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