SUNY OKs changes at Stony Brook's Southampton campus

Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook University's Southampton campus.

Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook University's Southampton campus. (April 7, 2010) (Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The State University of New York trustees Wednesday ratified Stony Brook's decision to end undergraduate and residential programs at its Southampton campus, but officials said they hope to add new programs from other SUNY colleges in horticulture, culinary arts and possibly nursing.

David Lavallee, SUNY's provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, said his office has coordinated discussions between Stony Brook, Farmingdale State College and Suffolk County Community College about nonresidential programs that could be offered at Southampton starting as early as next fall.

"We're really quite excited," he said. "We think we can teach a lot more students at the site than we have been," Lavallee said. "Where there does appear to be demand, we'll try it."

The SUNY trustees held a vote on the Southampton program changes in response to a State Supreme Court ruling that the university should have obtained approval from its advisory panel, the Stony Brook Council, before announcing last spring the closure of the Southampton dorms and relocation of undergraduate sustainability programs.

After the August ruling, the council voted Oct. 4 to approve the university's decision.

Ratifying that vote, the SUNY trustees Wednesday voted 15-0-1, with an abstention from student trustee Julie Gondar, who after the meeting said she was neither for nor against the resolution, but felt she had to abstain because of the hardship the relocation had caused some families.

In an ongoing legal battle, Stony Brook and plaintiffs suing the university have submitted to Judge Paul J. Baisley Jr. papers arguing whether the university has complied with his ruling.

Lavallee said discussions on the future of the Southampton campus began last spring and were put on hold in August, at the court's direction. Those discussions will resume once SUNY verifies they would be in compliance with the judge's ruling, SUNY officials said.

Farmingdale and Suffolk Community College could offer two-year programs with their own faculty at Southampton, and pay Stony Brook a facilities fee, he said, adding that the steering committee would first study the demand for such courses on the East End.

In other business, the SUNY board approved the purchase of 3 acres in Ronkonkoma currently leased by Stony Brook for administrative and warehouse space. The trustees also voted to request State Legislature approval for a 12-acre ground lease to build additional medical office space and parking facilities near Stony Brook University Hospital, and a separate ground lease for Farmingdale State's Broad Hollow Bioscience Park to allow broader public-private partnerships at the facility's high-tech incubator.

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