April 08, 2010

SUNY Stony Brook to close Southampton Campus; fate of UUP members uncertain

Source: NYSUT News Wire

The fate of 75 members of United University Professions at SUNY Stony Brook's Southampton campus is uncertain, following an announcement by Stony Brook President Samuel Stanley Jr. that undergraduate programs at the campus will close this summer.

In a news release announcing the closures, Stanley also warned of "some still-to-be determined job losses."

UUP President Phil Smith reacted sharply to the announcement, which he called premature.

"Given that the state budget has yet to be approved, it's difficult to fathom how this decision was made without any public discussion or forewarning," Smith said. "We still don't know how much state funding SUNY will receive, so how can a campus be closed based on what might happen?"

Stony Brook spent $78 million four years ago to buy the former Southampton College on Eastern Long Island, refurbish the campus and recast it as a college of environmental sustainability. The newly remodeled Southampton campus, which has an enrollment of 525 students, has been hailed as innovative and progressive. Just a year ago the new dean and administrative vice president, Mary Pearl, in a profile in the New York Times, outlined ambitious plans for expanding the services and buildings.

Some programs are expected to continue at Southampton, including the Marine Station of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program; and the Southampton Writers Workshop.

Stanley had announced the closure earlier this week in a closed-door meeting with U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, a Democrat whose district includes Southampton; and the two members of the Legislature whose districts also include the campus: state Sen. Ken LaValle, a Republican member of the Senate Higher Education Committee; and Assembly member Fred Thiele, a Republican from Bridgehampton.

Thiele immediately issued public criticisms of the closure plan, calling it "wrong on every level."

Word of the Southampton closure coincided with a message by UAlbany president George Philip to students and faculty in which Philip announced the creation of a campus budget advisory group that would take into account "a substantially lower resource base over the next two years."

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