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Jul 28, 2010 12:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Stony Brook Southampton committee discusses expanding arts, marine sciences programs

Jul 28, 2010 12:09 PM

An advisory committee charged with guiding the future of Stony Brook Southampton discussed the possibility of expanding the few remaining programs at the Shinnecock Hills campus during its first official meeting held earlier this month, group members said this week.

Stony Brook University convened the 13-member council, which is composed of officials from Stony Brook University, the State University of New York and other colleges, as well as East End residents, for the first time at the satellite campus on July 15. The council will help determine the future of the 82-acre campus, which will be stripped of most of its programs at the end of August in the wake of massive state funding cuts, university officials said.

At the meeting, council members discussed the possibility of expanding on the two programs that will remain after the cuts take effect: a graduate program in writing, and marine sciences research courses. That idea remains highly tentative, according to Stony Brook University Provost Eric Kaler, who co-chairs the council.

The campus was known for its creative writing and marine sciences programs long before Stony Brook University purchased it from Long Island University in 2006 and began transforming it into a hub for sustainability studies. In sweeping budget cuts announced this April, Stony Brook University said it will relocate the sustainability programs to the main campus in Stony Brook and shutter the dorms at Stony Brook Southampton at the end of the summer, leaving only the graduate writing program and marine sciences research center operating at the site.

“I think all of us would say that building from the existing strengths is probably going to be part of the strategy going forward,” Mr. Kaler said in an interview on Tuesday, referring to the two remaining programs.

A press release issued by the university on Friday stated that one of the concepts under consideration is to develop the campus as a “center for excellence for the creative arts.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Kaler acknowledged that the council, whose members were selected by Stony Brook University, has considered recommending adding other graduate arts programs to the curriculum at the Shinnecock Hills campus. Graduate programs in the creative arts, he explained, play to the strengths of the East End, which has a thriving contingent of well-known artists. Graduate programs are also less costly and bring in more tuition money, he said.

“We’ve been able to get top-quality faculty who are attracted to the programs and are willing to help us at a lower cost,” Mr. Kaler said of the existing creative writing program at Stony Brook Southampton. “We need to play to strengths, and certainly graduate arts programs play to that strength.”

A priority of the council, Mr. Kaler said, is to ensure that Stony Brook Southampton is not a financial drain on the SUNY system. The university has stated that it lost some $10 million per year operating the site as a small residential campus geared toward environmental sustainability studies. “Anything that we bring forward now has to be at least revenue neutral,” he said.

Steve Kenny of Remsenburg, a former Southampton Town councilman and member of the Stony Brook Southampton Advisory Committee, confirmed Mr. Kaler’s account—that the council wants to play to the campus’s strengths.

“One of the points that was raised was the reason that the writers program was so successful is that it draws on the existing human resources of the East End—writers,” Mr. Kenny said. He also noted that Mr. Kaler spoke at the meeting about maintaining the writing and marine sciences programs as the continued “core” of the campus.

Mr. Kaler said that students from throughout the SUNY system may be able study marine sciences at Stony Brook Southampton during a “semester at the sea,” although that idea is “not as far along as the others,” he said.

“The idea is really to use the site to benefit, obviously, people on the East End, but also to benefit SUNY programs systemwide,” Mr. Kaler said.

The advisory committee has tentative dates set in September for a second meeting, Mr. Kenny said. Mr. Kaler said that it would meet throughout the fall to develop a strategy for the Shinnecock Hills campus that would eventually be forwarded to university officials. It will likely not issue a written report, he said.

Bob Martin, who once chaired the Stony Brook Southampton Dean’s Council and is now a member of the advisory committee, called the meeting on July 15 a “positive first step.” In early April, immediately after the cuts to the campus was announced, Mr. Martin sent an open letter to media outlets stating that the Dean’s Council and Mary Pearl, the former dean of Stony Brook Southampton, were in the process of drafting a new strategic plan for the campus. The plan, the release states, is “one that accelerates the positive momentum of the sustainability program and leverages the full potential of the Master in Fine Arts program by expanding it into new areas.”

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Hmm... I wonder what the alarmists and anti-SBU people will have to say about this... Let me guess, this is just a "smoke screen" so they can distract us while they sell the land right?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 28, 10 2:40 PM
Uh, let's see...based on past experience...that would be...uhh...yes!
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jul 28, 10 10:23 PM
Is a resident who lives in the Southampton community a member of this mysterious panel? If so please tell us who. Diana Weir lives in Wainscott, not Southampton.

Long Island Housing Partnership visits Stony Brook Southampton
By Oliver Peterson, Southampton Press
Oct 3, 08 4:57 PM

Diana Weir has stated "And building new affordable homes is difficult here because “there’s no more land.”

"Mr. Berbig said he requested that Ms. Weir visit Stony Brook [Southampton] ...more
By VenecianWaters (6), southampton on Jul 28, 10 11:21 PM
See js's response below... SH Town is well represented.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 10:18 AM
I agree with VOS -- especially since Diana Weir, head of the Long Island HOUSING Partnership is co-chairing that advisory panel to determine new uses for the campus & is talking about how Southampton Hospital needs affordable homes in the area to help it attract staff.
By js (44), NY on Jul 29, 10 2:52 AM
In his 2009 inaugural address, SBU's president referred to the "SUNY REACH Program being developed by the four SUNY academic medical centers and the College of Optometry" for disease research and stated it would need "new facilities and shared infrastructure" to house that collaboration of the 5 SUNY colleges & whatever private corporations they would be working with. At the same time, he said "the SUNY plan may help us identify Stony Brook programs that might be better sited elsewhere". Closing ...more
By js (44), NY on Jul 29, 10 3:00 AM
Your example doesn't work... you are not financially locked into SBU. You paid for 1 year of education and recieved 1 year of education. They are offering you the same education @ SBU if you so choose to go there. It's unfortunate, and a shame but life isn't fair. The LIU kids who went through the exact same thing seemed to have faired okay.

Why is SUNY REACH bad? I could understand being in an upraor if SBU said they were going to sell the land to the highest bidder (which they ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 10:17 AM
There is only one Southampton community resident on that advisory panel. The rest are SUNY and SBU administrators, planners and a private construction developer


Co-Chairs: Diana Weir (Executive Vice President Long Island Housing Partnership, Inc.), Eric W. Kaler (SBU Provost and VP for Brookhaven Affairs)

Richard D. Britton (Suffolk County Community College)
Lucia Cepriano (Farmingdale State College SUNY)
Barbara ...more
By js (44), NY on Jul 29, 10 5:23 AM

"There is only one Southampton community resident on that advisory panel."

You then proceeded to list 2 community residents (Steve Kenny and Laura Sillerman) in adition to Richard Warren who is a chair of the Southampton Business Alliance, Bob Martin who is the former Chair of the Dean's Council @ SBS and Barbara Chernow who is the SBU Vice President, not to mention Kenneth Wright who is a local (but he doens't count because he is a big bad builder). Oh, and of course Diana ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 10:04 AM
2 members liked this comment
Not to beat a dead horse, but it still sickens and saddens me that SUNY Southampton can't remain intact educating our kids, grandkids, etc. I can think of no more admirable or necessary use for this property. I wish there was something that could be done or someone who could afford to step forward and preserve this property as a college--as it is intended to be.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 9:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
It can and is... did you not read the article? There are 2 existing programs there and they are looking to expand upon them...
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 10:11 AM
Yes, I did read the article--your sarcasm was not necessary. Expanding two programs does not cut it for me. The article says, "Council will help determine the future of the 82-acre campus." This is not definitive at all.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 11:08 AM
There wasn't any sarcasm - it was a legitimate question since you implied that SBS will no longer provide education for our "kids and grandkids". You also stated that you wish the someone would preserve this property as a college, but there has been no proposal that would make it something other than a college.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 11:15 AM
Expanding two existing programs is not what I am talking about. If a student plans on attending any college, liberal arts courses, fine arts courses, social science courses, etc. in addition to the student's major are required to graduate. It seems like Southampton is going to be run more like a satellite of SUNY Stony Brook--and that is what saddens me.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 11:34 AM
FYI - SUNY Southampton was not purchased to serve ONLY SOUTHAMPTON RESIDENTS! It is a State University and anyone from the state, the country and the world can attend. The closing impacts all the surrounding communities on the East End. So how about being a little inclusive to those residents who live to the east and God Forbid - even Riverhead, Shelter Island and Southold who might have children who want to attend. Narrow minded and provicial comes to mind.

By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Jul 29, 10 3:34 PM
I totally agree, Wainscott Resident. That is why I am supportive of the campus remaining a State University open to all that are accepted and that it offer all courses necessary for its students to receive their degree. My own daughter has taken couses at Southampton during the summer which has been a great savings and convenience.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 4:13 PM
Thank you Mrs. Sea. East End ressidents or anyone else from outside the Town of Southampton should be involved in helping to keep the campus a provider of educational programs that will help sustain the campus until the horrible state budget mess is resolved. Nobody is talking about selling the prioperty! Why keep bringing that up? Let's support all ideas that might result in a great solution to make the campus more vibrant and diversified. We all want it to be an integral part of our area. ...more
By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Jul 29, 10 5:00 PM
If this is till going to be an educational institution any students are going to be educated there, why kick out the students who already were being educated there? I dont see anybody saying this is just to get the rough financial time & once its all settled, those students can come back. All I see from this is SUNY getting those students out of the way so it can bring in other students. My concern is not for your property. My concern is for the havoc that has been wreaked upon my child & her ...more
By js (44), NY on Jul 30, 10 5:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
So what if the Shinnecock Nation leased the land from SUNY and built its casino there? Getting a portion of the take would make SUNY one of the wealthiest educational institutions in the world, no more grubbing to Paterson, Thele or Lavalle or any other clowns in Albany for money.
By bluelightning (21), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 10 9:32 PM
"...The State’s investment in the future of Southampton was prudent and must not be wasted. The social and economic future of the East End requires that it continue to have a 4 year college for its residents. However, based on the experience with both LIU and Stony Brook, it is clear that the business model of operating the college as a satellite to another institution will never properly ...more
By js (44), NY on Jul 30, 10 9:37 PM
" is clear that the business model of operating the college as a satellite to another institution will never properly serve the needs of the community."

Isn't that an acknowledgement that the SBS setup was not a sufficient one and simply could not work under the given circumstances?

No one is arguing that Southampton College isn't an important asset to the community or that it should be used for education. All I have been saying is that the current system hasn't worked, and ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 30, 10 10:12 PM
That land belongs to the Shinnecock Nation. Give it to them in lieu of all their other land claims. It is better they have it rather than let more greedy developers ruin it.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Jul 30, 10 10:21 PM
Might work, especially with the Shinnecocks' interest in tribal-centric education, but only with a no-casino provision. It's been shown that the East End isn't the place for a gaming facility, and that includes the campus.
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Aug 3, 10 11:23 AM
"Measure thrice, cut once."

Shinnecock College.

Institute for Earth Sustainability and Marine Sciences.

The Great Spirit smiles on this possibility IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 3, 10 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
This sounds wonderful! will it also include cultural courses about the Shinnecock and other Native American Tribes?
By WarriorMom (61), Southampton on Nov 9, 10 12:07 AM