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Stony Brook Southampton To Reopen Dorms, Expand Arts and Marine Science Offerings

Litigation put on hold.

The dorms at  could reopen in the fall of 2012 and the satellite campus of  will vastly increase its academic offerings before then under a plan the university announced Monday.

Stony Brook intends to expand its graduate creative arts and undergraduate marine science programs at the Shinnecock Hills campus, a move the cash-strapped university described as revenue neutral. The plan also includes “Semester by the Shore” residencies for visiting undergraduates.

“We are very excited because this expansion of existing programs at Southampton is fiscally responsible — all related expenses are covered by tuition and fees — while maintaining Stony Brook University’s commitment to academic excellence,” university Provost Eric Kaler was quoted as saying in a press release.

"We have made excellent progress and plan to roll out expanded programs this year,” said university President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.

University officials announced in April last year they would be shuttering the dorms at the campus and relocating the undergraduate sustainability program to the main campus.

A group of students responded with a lawsuit and a state judge ruled in the students’ favor in August, deciding that Stony Brook violated state law when it excluded the university council from the decision to shut down most of the campus. However, the court decision was not enough to force Stony Brook to restore the campus and reinstate the sustainability program there.

Stony Brook claimed the university came into compliance with the law in May when the council signed off on the plan to shrink operations at the Southampton campus, and asked the judge to amend the judgment. The council passed a similiar resolution in October to affirm the university's decision.

The students, with the backing of state and federal elected officials, continued to seek restoration of the campus as it once was — a small residential school dedicated to environmental sustainability.

But last week it was announced that the university and the students had come to an agreement to put litigation on the back burner for 30 days.

“The students agreed to put their motion on hold and Stony Brook agreed to put their appeal on hold,” state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said Monday.

Thiele said the agreement came because the forces that want to see the campus reestablished as a four-year residential college have seen changes in recent months that have improved their position.

For instance, Thiele said, state Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle, a fervent supporter of Stony Brook Southampton, is once again chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, a position he had temporarily lost at the time the cuts to the school were made.

Additionally, Stony Brook is facing cuts under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget, and Thiele said the university will be looking to the state legislature for help.

“Stony Brook University, like all the SUNY campuses, is facing another 10 percent cut — about $12 million — to its direct state support in this budget cycle,” university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow wrote in an e-mail Monday. “Stony Brook has been cut $75 million over the past three years.”

Thiele said LaValle would not be satisfied with a budget amendment to restore funding to SUNY schools that does not include reopening Stony Brook Southampton.

“As a well-known champion for higher education, Senator LaValle brings a great deal of experience and insight to the role of chair of the Higher Education Committee,” Sheprow said. “It is unclear how that will impact Stony Brook's efforts to expand already existing programs on the Southampton campus.”

Thiele said he is optimistic open the campus' future. “I certainly feel that things are now headed in the right direction”

“Stony Brook has proposals for the Southampton college which I think we find to be interesting,” he said, giving theater, film, visual arts and visiting programs as examples.

Undergraduate visiting programs would attract students from all over SUNY and the country for a semester, Thiele explained.

“We’re looking for a little bit more than that, but it’s a start,” he said. “There are a lot of thorny issues that still remain.”

“I would say the major stumbling block is still over the future of the sustainability program — and the future of students who were in that program.”

Most of the students who were displaced when cuts were made to the campus followed the sustainability program to the university’s main campus.

“Senator LaValle and myself and Congressman [Tim] Bishop have always said that any settlement has to involve the restoration of a residential campus, so that means reopening the dorms,” Thiele said.

julie March 01, 2011 at 11:51 PM
The SB-Southampton students who filed that lawsuit, & their classmates, put the public pressure to bear on the university to reconsider its ill-conceived decision to close their sustainability. Those students were instrumental in these new developments. But all the press is talking about is the expansion of arts & writing programs. What about the sustainability students who fought to get the college reopened?? Are they an after-thought now that their efforts have succeeded? The sustainability program at the main campus is not the same caliber as the one these students signed on for & were promised at the at Southampton campus. The sustainability students fought to get themselves & their successful, growing sustainability program back to the Southampton campus and the environment is that is their laboratory. They are not fighting to just reopen a college. They went all the Supreme Court in a fight specifically to restore their sustainability progam to that campus. It will surely be a kick in the teeth if the sustainability students won the fight to reopen a residential college at Southampton, only for it to remain closed to them. Stony Brook kicked those students off campus & caused turmoil in their lives because it said couldn't afford a residential college at Southampton. Now that it will be reopening the dorms, RESTORE THE SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM & DISPLACED STUDENTS TO SOUTHAMPTON!
julie March 02, 2011 at 01:01 AM
SUNY's campus at Purchase, NY is already an entire college dedicated to the visual, performing & fine arts. But SUNY threw away its only college for sustainability studies when it illegally shut down the southampton campus. The reopened college should be more than a duplicate of the programs at SUNY Purchase. Bring back the Sustainability program to Southampton too. It was SUSTAINABILITY students who brought the lawsuit that stopped the closure & they did it to get their SUSTAINABILITY college reopened. If they are putting their lawsuit on hold, it is to work to restore their sustainability programs & themselves back to the environment that is their laboratory - southampton. If any students are back on that campus, it should be the sustainability students first.
marc March 02, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Why would anyone trust the heads of Stony Brook ever again. The students that went to Southampton for the sustainability program went there under the guise of certain promises by the administration. Many of those students have left the program altogether. Many more have failed or just withdrawn from the main campus, unable to adjust to programs and a lifestyle they never signed on for. Reopening the school as an arts program may satisfy the local residents of the community, but they will never be able to correct the fraud perpetrated upon the students that signed up and attended the sustainability program.
BD March 06, 2011 at 02:24 PM
What about running summer camp programs for HS students in Marine biology and Sustainability?Great way to help subsidize needed income. College students could run the program for work study credits and income.Many other colleges run summer programs for High Schoolers-such as Brown...

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