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May 12, 2010 11:48 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Thiele: Stony Brook rejects idea of maintaining residential campus at Southampton

May 12, 2010 11:48 AM

In a meeting with local officials last Thursday, Stony Brook University administrators reiterated that they are no longer interested in running a residential college at the site of Stony Brook Southampton.

Their position is a tacit rejection of a counterproposal by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., which would have had Southampton Town tap its Community Preservation Fund to buy the development rights to the campus from SUNY in exchange for a commitment that the Shinnecock Hills campus would continue on as a four-year residential college.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Mr. Thiele said of the 90-minute meeting, which was held at Stony Brook University’s main campus on May 6. “I didn’t expect Stony Brook officials to suddenly have a eureka movement.”

It is too expensive to house students at the 81-acre campus, according to Stony Brook University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow—a fact that caused the university to announce in early April that it would be shuttering the dorms at the fledgling satellite campus and relocating its sustainability curriculum to its main campus in Stony Brook at the end of the summer session. The cost-saving plan, which came in the wake of massive state funding cuts to the university, would leave only the graduate writing program and the marine sciences research center operating at the campus.

“The suggestion about using the Community Preservation Fund would not in any way address the $34 million deficit that we’re facing with these budget cuts,” Ms. Sheprow said the day after the meeting. “[Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley] has said that one-time solutions, a one-time funding effort, does not resolve the cost-per-student issue out there.”

It costs about $30,000 a year to educate a student at Stony Brook Southampton, compared to approximately $12,000 for a student at the much larger main campus in Stony Brook, according to Ms. Sheprow. With tens of millions in cuts handed down from Albany over the last two years, it became hard to justify keeping Stony Brook Southampton running in its current form, Ms. Sheprow said.

“Housing students at that site just doesn’t work,” she said.

Since Stony Brook Southampton welcomed its first students in 2007, 61 had signed up for one of the school’s six sustainability majors, Ms. Sheprow said. After August 31, those students will be allowed to finish their degrees on the main campus, according to Ms. Sheprow. The remaining 312 undergraduates at Stony Brook Southampton are part of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which is based on the main campus.

Stony Brook University purchased the campus from Long Island University for $35 million in 2006, and invested tens of millions of dollars in an effort to build it into a hub for sustainability and environmental studies. Now that that dream is over, the future of the land remains unclear. At the meeting with elected officials from Southampton Town last Thursday, Dr. Stanley was mum about his plans for the sprawling campus, according to Mr. Thiele.

“They have absolutely no plan for that,” Mr. Thiele said. “And I think that’s what makes everybody nervous.”

Ms. Sheprow said that the university is currently in talks with SUNY Farmingdale, Suffolk County Community College and Empire State College about how to use the site in the future, although she declined to elaborate further. She added that Dr. Stanley is setting up a panel in order to generate ideas for the future of the campus.

“I think they’ll look at any and all ideas for that,” she said. In any case, university officials have stated that they will hold onto the land to use for education, and have no intention of selling it off to developers.

Mr. Thiele said that his proposal for Southampton Town to purchase the development rights to the campus was intended, in part, to bring university officials to the negotiating table and to “smoke out” the real motives behind the cuts to Stony Brook Southampton. He said that the university’s response leads him to believe that the state funding cuts were not the driving force behind the decision.

“It really isn’t all about money,” Mr. Thiele said, “They just don’t want to operate a residential campus at Southampton—regardless of the money.”

The university has stated that the cuts to Stony Brook Southampton will save $6.7 million per year.

Dr. Stanley was present at the meeting on Thursday, along with SUNY officials, who were in touch via a conference call. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher did not participate in the discussions, Mr. Thiele said. A SUNY spokesman did not return calls seeking comment this week.

Representing Southampton Town along with Mr. Thiele was New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Jon Schneider, a representative for U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, and Bob Martin, who sits on the Stony Brook Southampton Dean’s Council, among others, according to Mr. Thiele. Other Stony Brook University officials were also present, he said.

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Will Long Island's Green Campus be shutting down. Watch this video...
By js (44), NY on May 6, 10 6:02 PM
Sure, shut down a campus which was trying to focus on sustainability issues (which could save The Earth trillions of dollars, and counting) for 6 million cost savings per year.

Are the people running this circus educators, or myopic idiots who need to be educated in macro-economic issues?

Were they in charge of rescuing (murdering) the whale "Montauk" in East Hampton recently?

Where is the long-range planning?

Where is the vision?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 6, 10 6:32 PM
I thought the whale comitted suicide.
By Terry (380), Southampton on May 6, 10 6:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Were they in charge of rescuing (murdering) the whale "Montauk" in East Hampton recently?"

Seriously PBR?

There was no long range planning because it was part of Shirley Strum Kenny's bid to take over the world via SBU
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 6, 10 10:23 PM
“It really isn’t all about money,” Mr. Thiele said, “They just don’t want to operate a residential campus at Southampton—regardless of the money.” That is exactly what Assemblywoman, Deborah Glick, said to my students when they were in Albany to lobby on behalf of their college. She was very clear that there was political motivation to privatize the SUNY system. My students deserve better than to be the collateral damage of this politicking. Our community deserves better too.
By heatherdune (12), Hampton Bays on May 6, 10 7:47 PM
well SBU isnt the only SUNY college. If they dont want to run it for a few years before it can stand on its own, maybe another with more interest in the environment can.
By js (44), NY on May 6, 10 8:45 PM
ok so "no plans to SELL to developers". (Note the operative word). They didnt SELL the property to the developers that are building a Hilton Gardens hotel on the main campus either.
By js (44), NY on May 6, 10 8:53 PM
Come join us for an amazing night at Atlantis Marine World as we support the cause to Save the College at Southampton!!

May 20th, 2010 at 7pm.

Enjoy our benefit dinner in a unique night at the Aquarium.


The event will feature keynote speaker
Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long ...more
By js (44), NY on May 6, 10 10:14 PM
Eventually, people are going to see $78M worth of buildings on a beautiful campus and wonder why they are empty. And Stony Brook will start adding courses again, and eventually some people will want to stay in the dorms again. Eventually the campus will resemble a college again. Except the Environmental Studies programs will be gone.

The MFA program is excellent but tiny and mostly only alive a couple of weeks a year in the summer. The marine sciences program will not hold classes here, ...more
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 7, 10 9:05 AM
when did fred know it wasn't really about the money? oh well another feckless politician has spoken. now fred can go concentrate on walking that womans doggie up on noyac road to pass his time.
By uncleronk (136), southold on May 7, 10 9:09 AM
Waffling Thiele and Which Way is the Wind Blowing Lavalle are just trying to cover up their ridiculous deal, that they facilitated, to purchase the Southampton campus in the first place. This site is not economically feasible, without a large endowment attached to it... LIU never broke even with this campus... Lets stop pretending... there is no CPF money that can be used to purchase development rights...this is just another political dog and pony show that Lavalle and Thiele are engaging in to ...more
By grimag (38), southampton on May 7, 10 9:59 AM
Apples and oranges. LIU was a private college. Public colleges, by definition, do not turn a profit. Every major at every SUNY, CUNY and community college operates at a loss. That's why we pay taxes to support these schools. There's a public benefit.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 7, 10 10:36 AM
At the present time... there is no money to fund this project.. The state is broke, and virtually bankrupt...The best benefit to the public is for the state to stop spending our money... especially on campus purchases that we cannot afford.
By grimag (38), southampton on May 7, 10 10:43 AM
The funds were offered from other sources and rejected. Did you notice the recent newsday article that reported "..Stanley's seeking other uses, such as fine arts, medicine and a conference center..." So who do you think is going to be paying for a new medical research facility and 'conference center' at Southampton? Im a medical professional. When we go to educational conferences, we need hotel accomodations - the conference center usually has those on site. The article also says "...and he's ...more
By js (44), NY on May 7, 10 10:55 PM
BTW... the 5 story Hilton Gardens Hotel that is being built at the main campus is being billed by Stony Brook as an "academic conference center" too. If he's talking about putting "conference centers" in your backyard, you might want to get a look at the ramifications it's causing at main. Check these out:
By js (44), NY on May 7, 10 11:19 PM
What would you care? It's not your money directly. The money comes from all taxpayers in the state -- including people from as far as Buffalo -- to fund Southampton. Upstate has tons of public colleges. Why don't we deserve one?
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 7, 10 11:03 AM
where is tim bishop hiding these days? why does he have meetings that are not announced so we can attend and try to ask a question? why is he soooo unavailable? hey timmy, where are you?
what's that LASSIE? timmy is looking for another job? he'll have to after November.
By uncleronk (136), southold on May 7, 10 11:20 AM
Folks like you are ALWAYS looking to blame Bishop for something. Pathetic.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 7, 10 12:57 PM
folks like you are ALWAYS trying to cover up for LOSERS like BISHOP. Pathetic
By uncleronk (136), southold on May 7, 10 2:42 PM
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May 20th, 2010 at 7pm.


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Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long Island

Price of Tickets is a Tax-deductible charitable donation!
PurchaseTickets at: http://savethecollege.org/events.html

Checks ...more
By js (44), NY on May 7, 10 1:02 PM
If the State can't afford the college, let it go! It's not up to the Town, we can't afford it, nor should we be in the business of running a college! As usual our soon to be unemployed congressman Bishop is no where to be seen, he can't announce when he'll show up because he will be held to account for all his votes that have hurt us as a nation and his blind support for the Marxist in Chief Barak Hussein Obama mmmm mmmm mmm.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 9, 10 9:02 AM
How can you say if a State can't afford the college, let it go? We are students here, preparing for the future where green jobs and the environment will be some of the most prominent things affecting our economy and daily lives. Keeping this college on Long Island helps to prevent the "Brain Drain" that is destined to happen at the current rate of housing and taxes. We need to be here for the future of Long Island and the world. If you ever take a look at the coastal resiliency website and observe ...more
By SBS Student (5), Southampton on May 9, 10 6:46 PM
There is nothing preventing SBU from having a college of sustainability at their main campus. At this point in time it's just not fiscally prudent to keep SBS open.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 9, 10 8:47 PM
SBS: While I sympathize with your situation, there is a bigger picture. There's not enough money to keep the college going in it's current incarnation. It's an economic move that the SUNY system has determined is the most prudent at this time.I assume you haven't taken economics yet. As to resolving the problem of flooding in a major storm event, all you can do is get out of the way and clean up after it's over.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 10, 10 6:56 AM
I have taken economics, several classes. If you've actually researched the topic you would know that this decision is NOT based on money. There are other, deeper reasons to closing this campus that involve politics. It involves the privatization of SUNY and the research that President Stanley is so insistent on doing. Why do you think SoMAS is staying on campus, because they are world renowned for research and why are they keeping the writing program? Because it's famous and world renowned as well. ...more
By SBS Student (5), Southampton on May 10, 10 9:13 PM
SBS's closing should not have any affect on your ability/intelligence/drive.

" could have been the person who has created the solution to the oil spill in the gulf, but now I don't have that opportunity for any future disasters. What good will my degree at the West Campus be if by the time I graduate my major will be phased out?"

If you honestly give up that quickly, you weren't going to solve any oil spill problems to begin with - the environmental world will throw much harder ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 10, 10 10:10 PM
I'm not looking to start a fight and you're taking everything I'm saying to close to how I say it. I am stating things that we at this campus are working on, a future where we are working to maintain, preserve and conserve what we as humans have established on planet earth. Stony Brook University has no desire to keep us. As I said, even the professors here are being offered different jobs then what they currently maintain. Professors are being offered positions they carried on years ago when they ...more
By SBS Student (5), Southampton on May 10, 10 11:21 PM
The way these students have been treated is disgraceful. Some, like my kid, turned down other acceptance and scholarship from other colleges because of the promises that were made to them about the education & opportunities they would have at Southampton. To lure them in last August, only to say oh never mind, & throw them out in April is reprehensible. Not to mention the financial losses that their families have incurred. But if you dont care about these students & the money they spent in your ...more
By js (44), NY on May 12, 10 4:22 PM

By js (44), NY on May 12, 10 4:29 PM
A few short months ago, I believed SBU's claims that SUNY was commited to growing the college at Southampton. I also believed the president's promises about the education my child would receive at Southampton. Look how that turned out. You may believe the SBU president's claim that there are no current plans to sell the campus property at this time. Seeing how they operate, only a fool would trust a word that comes out of mouths of SBU or SUNY.

"The future of the land is again at risk. ...more
By js (44), NY on May 12, 10 4:43 PM
I agree that it is a shame that the college has closed, and that the students dreams were shattered and promises were broken. I know people who were involved in the LIU closure and it was very hard for them at first - but they perservered.

My question to you, js, is why are you apt to believe anything a politician says anymore than what SUNY says? Politicians are notorious for their lies and mistruths, and Theile is lying to your face when he says CPF funding is a good and legal idea. ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 13, 10 11:58 AM
Mr. Nature, thank you for your comment. I do believe you may have misunderstood me. I did not mention CPF funds at all. I do not live in your community and I dont know if that is the right way to go to prevent the loss of the the college. I am not talking about CPF. There are other ways such as reorganizing. For instance, Southampton campus is the universiity's environmental sustainabilities center and also is where the SoMAS marine centers is located. So, instead of moving all these students ...more
By js (44), NY on May 15, 10 8:42 PM
Nature, Mr. Thiele graduated from this campus. He returns calls personally to parents of the students, and he visits with the students on a Sunday morning. Bishop worked a variety of jobs, including Provost at this campus, over 29 years. His wife runs a daycare center on the campus, to this day. Senator LaValle is upset because this campus "was my baby."
They are all trying to preserve a 4 year college education for the East End of Long Island, just as they did 5 years ago. So many East Enders ...more
By VenecianWaters (6), southampton on May 19, 10 8:10 PM
I'll pose a few questions to help digest your massive post:

What is "PHEEIA"?

Why hasn't Bishop, who has deep ties to the college (as you pointed out) done/said anything?

Do you have a better idea for SUNY SBU saving $34 million/year?

Do you think that Shirley Strum Kenney is completley innocent in this? It's my understanding that she was virtually obsessed on spreading the Stony Brook name everywhere and weilding her power (SBS, SBU Manhatten, Flower Fields, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 20, 10 9:37 AM
What is currently happening at Southampton is an indication of what is to come if the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA) is ever enacted. PHEEIA would remove legislative oversight over most university transactions. This would lead to more unilateral decisions by campus officials and irrational changes to our public higher education institutions, without regard for the impact it will have on students, their parents and the college community, the local community, and the ...more
By js (44), NY on May 23, 10 12:08 AM
PHEEIA is a legislative piece called the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act that Gov. David Paterson had included in his budget. Its not a law yet.

If passed into law as curently drafted, it would allow the different SUNY universities to set their own disparate tutition rates, raise tuition at will without appropriation from the Legislature, and make their own leasing agreements offering up their public campus properties to private entities for corporate purposes ...more
By js (44), NY on May 22, 10 10:10 PM