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Stony Brook searches for a new leader

A sign for Stony Brook University is pictured

A sign for Stony Brook University is pictured on March 1, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Now hiring

Are you an “enthusiastic, articulate and visionary leader”?

Then you check one of the many boxes to be considered for Stony Brook University’s presidency.

The official application to become Stony Brook’s next president is open online, through Isaacson Miller, a search consulting firm. It’s also being advertised in a variety of publications.

The basic online description serves as both an advertisement of sorts for Stony Brook, noting that the school is Long Island’s largest single-site employer and is ranked 25th among public universities in a Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranking, and in the top 100 in U.S. News & World Report’s list. It also highlights Stony Brook’s partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory and its $2.7 billion operating budget.

“In its next President, Stony Brook University seeks a demonstrated visionary and strategic leader with administrative experience and with a thorough understanding of and an uncompromising commitment to academic distinction along with a demonstrated track record of support for diversity, equity and inclusion,” the description states.

A complete 17-page description of the job is more attentive to some of the school’s challenges, noting that the next president should be able to develop a relationship with Long Island and statewide representatives, while also developing trust and communication within the university community. It cites the concept of “shared governance” — the need for collaborative leadership — which some inside the university have said was a shortcoming in the previous administration. And it focuses on the importance of research, innovation and health care.

And there’s a description of the president’s home, called Sunwood, which “sits on a beautiful site in Old Field with beach access” and is “close to running and walking trails, fishing and kayaking sites, and provides a special space for university events.”

Applicants should have served in senior administrative positions at a university “or equivalent organization,” be committed to public higher education, and have political acumen, a “collaborative, transparent and inclusive leadership style” and an “appetite for fundraising.” 

If that’s you, apply here.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Battle for Smithtown

John Kennedy may struggle to unseat Steve Bellone as county executive next Tuesday, but will the Smithtown Republican lose the vote in his hometown? 

Bellone won the town with 53 percent of the vote in 2015 against little-known challenger James O'Connor, but this year, Republicans count on Smithtown as the path to victory for Kennedy, of Nissequogue.

GOP leaders are upset that Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim is ignoring the local Republican, who represented a chunk of the town as county legislator before he became county comptroller. Wehrheim has done just about everything to show his support of Bellone, but has stopped short of endorsing the Democratic incumbent.

This past month, Bellone seems to have taken up residence in the GOP stronghold, appearing with Wehrheim at a series of events, including one involving new housing across from town hall and another about the critical project to bring sewers to Kings Park. Not only is the supervisor not endorsing his fellow Republican, he also has heaped praise on Bellone, saying the pair have a "good working relationship.” 

The Smithtown GOP is so concerned that Kennedy's support is eroding in his base that it printed a campaign flyer featuring an old photo of Wehrheim and Kennedy under the banner "Smithtown's Hometown Team."  Wehrheim told the local paper that he did not authorize the use of the photo in Kennedy's campaign literature.

Meanwhile, Bellone, who has pounded Kennedy in copious TV ads and mailers, again will appear with Wehrheim Friday at the historic St. James General Store.

—Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Pencil Point

The king has spoken

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Final Point

Lessons from Ken Burns

It has become a Twitter trope to say that politics in the age of Donald Trump feels as implausibly scripted as a bad TV show. No surprise then at this week’s Ken Burns twist, in which one of the filmmaker’s documentaries was found by The Washington Post to feature a young Alexander Vindman, the newest central figure in the impeachment saga. 

The 1985 film is “The Statue of Liberty,” produced by Burns and cinematographer Buddy Squires. It’s about the construction and meaning of the monument, and Burns went in search of immigrants to talk about their idea of liberty. In Brooklyn, he happened upon Vindman as a child. 

Vindman is sitting with his twin brother, and the two talk excitedly over each other, chatting about how they made their journey from Kiev to America. 

The Point reached Burns on Wednesday and asked about this wild coincidence. Burns said he had gone searching in the “melting pot” of Brooklyn for subjects, and he wasn’t even sure which Vindman twin was which. He never talked to Alexander Vindman again. 

What does Vindman the citizen represent today, after reportedly testifying about his concern about President Trump’s fateful call with the Ukrainian president?

“I think he just represents the continuation of the American dream,” says Burns.

Vindman the immigrant reportedly called himself a patriot during his testimony this week, even as the president began trying to impugn his credibility.

The question of “who we are” as a country, Burns said, has been questioned recently, as it has in various anti-immigrant moments of the past.

“Obviously, this assumption that we had of our values has come into question recently,” he said, “and I think it might be important to just understand how many people who are the fabric of who we are now, either in the military or just in the corner store or whatever it is, that they represent who we are.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano


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