Stony Brook University is poised for growth thanks to state and philanthropic support that has begun to allow the university to invest more money in hiring new faculty members.
That's according to university president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who formally welcomed more than 70 new faculty members at the annual university convocation on Wednesday.
It marked his third "state of the university" address since beginning his tenure as president. Stanley reflected on his first such address, in which he said he talked about the need to invest in university faculty despite the state's financial crisis and said the university was at a crossroads.
"Enrollment had grown without any increase in the faculty – the result, bigger classes, and more importantly fewer sections, making it difficult for students to get the classes they needed to graduate on time," he said. "Unchecked, this would be an obstacle towards student success, and ultimately a path towards mediocrity."
He said two factors allowed the university to begin growing its faculty again: The passage of the NYSUNY2020 plan under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which allowed rational tuition increases and other measures to preserve funding, and increased philanthropic support from alumni and community members. NYSUNY2020 will allow the university to hire 250 new faculty members over the next five years, while nearly $235 million in donations to the university over the past three years will help recruit and retain faculty as well as help create endowed professorships.
"And we continue to push for funds to support graduate education and undergraduate scholarhsips so we can recruit and support the best students in the land," Stanley said.
He also said the university has increased its efficiency while still remaining effective in the area of administration, achieving savings of about $13 million a year that helps to counteract the $90 million in budget cuts to the university.
"These are monies that find their way back into student support and our academic mission," Stanley said.
He also praised the athletic program, crediting it with helping create a buzz over the university and saying he couldn't have predicted its impact over the past three years.
Stanley cited recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, which put Stony Brook in the top 100 American universities. But while he is skeptical of ratings, he said, he hopes they do reflect the progress Stony Brook has made.
"I am proud to say that I believe Stony Brook University is on the move," he said, "and we are moving in the right direction."