By Michael A. Bernstein
From Ivy League institutions such as Harvard University to state institutions such as the University of Connecticut and several SUNY campuses, including Stony Brook, all are facing financial constraints that are prompting them to review or institute program suspensions ranging from academics to athletics. For Stony Brook, that means making difficult decisions to address budget reductions throughout all academic and administrative units.
Investments in more than 240 new faculty hires, coupled with a tuition freeze followed by a modest increase and no adjustments in state support to cover negotiated salary increases have created a structural operating deficit at Stony Brook. While we continue to work to develop new revenue sources and redouble our efforts to increase both state and philanthropic support, it is incumbent upon us to build a strong, stable foundation for continued excellence at our university.
Our budget issues are real. Strategic change is the only way to maintain our quality and offer the best and most efficient options for our students. Serious and consistent program review is necessary to ensure we are spending our scarce resources wisely, building upon our high-quality programs as well as those for which there is high student demand. This is why our program changes focus on those areas with low enrollments. In response to this, only a small number of assistant professors in the tenure track and lecturers have been directly affected.
Similar review is happening throughout West and East campuses, resulting in the suspension of admission to five programs — three in the College of Arts and Sciences and two in the School of Health Technology and Management. We have also mobilized resources to invest in areas such as Africana studies, art and creative writing and film as well as a variety of areas in the social and natural sciences.
These measures reflect our urgency to maximize our resources as we continue to support and invest in programs of excellence and impact; engage in cutting-edge research, scholarship and art-making that attract external funding and recognition; and do everything possible to empower students, meet their demands and ensure they receive an outstanding education at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
As an institution, we remain focused on our missions in education, research, scholarship, art-making, professional service and community engagement. And, as a public university with an exceptionally talented faculty and staff committed to serving a diverse student body, we must be outstanding stewards of the public’s trust and resources, constantly examining how best to invest in areas of strength, promise and need.
Michael A. Bernstein is the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University.