Dr Stanley, President , SUNY Stony Brook- “The Future”
December 17, 2010 @ 12:00 am EST
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This morning we were back in at the MacArthur Holiday Inn with a full room of members and friends ready to hear an update on what is happening at SBU, one of Long Island’s most important institutions and its largest single-site employer A biomedical researcher by trade, Dr. Stanley came to SBU eighteen months ago from Washington University in St. Louis, a very different place than Long Island. Much of the time since his arrival has been spent getting to know Long Island, and the state government that SBU is part of. Part of his getting to know the island has been learning of its special gifts and challenges. The university sees its core mission of education as a primary tool in helping to address those needs.
The large academic health center that SBU runs is an important part of maintaining quality of life on Long Island, and the research performed at it helps drive innovation and economic development. Dr. Stanley reminded us that sponsored research from the NIH and NSF helps address the imbalanced flow of Federal tax dollars out of New York State, and urged the audience to support that research in the budget.
A manager at the top of his game, Dr. Stanley demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of his business’s metrics, letting loose with a torrent of statistics about the characteristics of the student body and SBUs ranking among its fellow research universities in North America. An institution with a $2.1 Billion dollar budget, 3 Nobel Prize winners, and a medical center that is visited almost 300,000 times per year. SBU is an integral part of Long Island. Co-running Brookhaven National Lab with Battelle, the university partners with other research institutions like the Cold Spring Harbor Lab. It also develops its own particular research centers and incubators, such asLIHTI, which spawned James Simons’ Renaissance Technologies, CEWIT and the new Energy Center, which will have the first Platinum LEED! certified building on Long Island.
Energy research should be a primary focus for the 53 year old institution. To accomplish this and cement SBU into the same group as UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, and University of North Carolina it will take the capture of federal dollars to perform that cutting edge research. The challenges to that mission are the current state budget situation and the need to grow the faculty ranks. Dr. Stanley had Bain consulting come in and assess the opportunities to trim costs, but the real solution is to grow your way out of the situation.
To foster this robust growth will require growing tuition revenue to bring SBU from the lower levels of state schools to a more average level. This growth will fund more faculty, support staff, smaller classes, more student support and more research and lab space. It would also enable the university to support more than three thousand additional students.
Another aspirational goal is to create a children’s hospital, which doesn’t currently exist in Suffolk County. The chair of the children’s hospital task force, hotelier John Tsunis was in attendance and excited about the project. State funding had dried up last year, but through the community’s embrace of the project and realization of its importance, the project is beginning to move forward. Good news looks to be on the horizon for the project.
The Q and A was extensive, where we learned that SBU has gotten permission to create a department of Civil Engineering. The focus of most of the questions was how to keep SBU grads on Long Island and how to get them interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs. To that end, the U wants to be an engine of economic opportunity for those grads, and a partner with the K-12 system to foster that interest in STEM, especially among girls and build a pipeline of local students that will end up attending SBU.
Once again it was another educational opportunity to be at LIMBA meeting with an excellent speaker and learn more about a Long Island institution that serves as a keystone of the local economy and a beacon for innovation. Please join us for these Friday morning sessions that finish the work week off on a high note and never fail to be of value.
Recap by Craig Plunkett.