Tags Posts tagged with "Joan Dickinson"

Joan Dickinson

File photo by Raymond Janis

A new Easter tradition

Thank you, Arts & Lifestyles Editor Heidi Sutton, for sharing the wonderful recipe for Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole (TBR News Media, “Let’s Eat,” Feb. 22). Every year for decades we have had ham, turkey or lamb for Easter. This year we decided to try something new. The Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole was the centerpiece of our first Easter brunch and it was fabulous. The recipe was easy to follow and the flavor was amazing. We have a new tradition!

 Joan Dickinson

Lake Grove

Clarifying on climate, renewables and electric vehicles

In a letter appearing in the March 28 editions of TBR News Media, Mark Sertoff makes a number of highly dubious assertions.

To begin with he claims “there is no climate crisis” and that “thousands of scientists around the world concur.” Sounds impressive, but really it isn’t. There are well over 8 million scientists worldwide. In addition, scientists are not equal climate experts. What a geologist, astronomer or nuclear physicist thinks about global warming has little more weight than what you or I think. What does matter is what actively publishing climate scientists think. The answer is that close to 100 percent agree that human-caused global warming is occurring.

He claims Germany is backing off renewables because of “massive problems in reliability and cost.” This is simply untrue. On Jan. 3, Reuters reported that Germany’s power grid reached 55% renewable power last year, a rise of 6.6%. It’s aiming for 80% by 2030.

He’s worried about birds killed by wind turbines, as well as whales. I share his concern, but the fact is that by far the biggest human-related cause of bird mortality is collisions with buildings (Flaco the Owl being a recent sad example). As far as whales, entanglements in fishing gear and strikes by large ships are the leading human-related causes of whale deaths. And there’s no observational evidence linking whale deaths to offshore wind turbines, either in construction or operation. 

Getting to the subject of electric buses he plays on fear. The fear of getting stuck in cold weather. The fear of explosions. Kings Park school district is currently purchasing propane-fueled buses. Propane can explode if not handled properly. As for diesel, studies have linked breathing diesel fumes to harmful effects on student respiratory and brain health, also decreased performance at school. And the range of electric school buses is more than adequate for our suburban Long Island districts, even in the dead of winter.

As far as the depreciation of electric vs. standard vehicles, the claim that “you can’t give away a used EV” is misleading, to say the least. The reason for higher depreciation is currently EVs cost more than standard vehicles to begin with. That’s likely to change in the near future. He omits to mention that electric school buses are significantly cheaper to operate.

It’s perfectly valid to disagree on the pace of transforming school bus fleets to electric. What’s not valid is climate change denialism and spreading misinformation about renewables.

David Friedman

St. James

The U.S. government needs to better protect its citizens

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently finalized the Comprehensive Asbestos Reporting Rule, and we must ask the question: Why has it taken so long? We know there are hundreds of toxic chemicals that lead to disease in this country, yet why is the U.S. one of the last to protect its own citizens? 

Asbestos has been a known carcinogen for decades, causing over 40,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, and now our government is finally banning it. In 2016, during the Obama administration, the federal government passed legislation to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. However, why did it take 40 years to update a bill on toxic substances? 

Twenty-two years ago, after my grandmother died from breast cancer, I founded the Community Health and Environment Coalition to address the high rate of cancer in the area. I wanted to know why it was happening and how to prevent it. Community members, elected officials and health professionals challenged the NYS Department of Health to do more. The Health Department did this by launching an investigation that left us with more questions than answers. During the investigation, most residents expressed concerns about our environment, particularly our water. Today we have identified toxic chemicals in our water including PFAS “forever chemicals” and 1,4-dioxane. 

Decades of illegal dumping, military and industrial use of toxic chemicals dumped in the ground and now-banned pesticides have contributed to our long toxic chemical legacy. We are finally seeing some progress after years of grassroots environmental advocacy and government policy proactively holding those responsible, but more must be done. 

As the chemical industry continues to exert power over the government, we must understand that cheap utilitarian toxic chemicals may seem helpful at first, but the long-term health effects may negate any cost savings and may put our lives at risk.

It’s been over 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed thousands of people. Since then, many first responders have suffered delayed symptoms and continue to lose their lives due to exposure to toxic chemicals. Now that we better understand the long-term health effects of toxic exposure, we must hold those responsible and insist that they do more to protect lives.

Sarah Anker 

Sarah Anker (D) is a former Suffolk County legislator and is running for New York State Senate in District 1.

Northville is potentially a local treasure

Monday evening, March 25, I attended a gathering. 

It was not intended to be a gathering. It was intended to be a hearing, and the hearing was about Northville Industries proposal to put either warehouses (plan A) or apartments (plan B) on its Belle Mead Road property. 

Only local residents were notified of this “hearing” but apparently these residents felt strongly enough to enlist friends and relatives from Northern Brookhaven to attend. The “hearing” was so well attended that it had to be postponed and relocated.

Let me state that both options are terrible choices. Plan A comes with immense truck traffic, while plan B comes with dense-pack zoning and IDA funding. 

What is IDA funding you might ask? That’s when the town gives away taxpayer money to subsidize private development. This means incredibly low taxes for the developer for up to 15 years and then a gradual increase thereafter. All the services that you and I receive for our taxes will be rendered, but at your and my expense. 

But here’s the thing. The Northville property is potentially a local treasure — this is not hyperbole. The future of transportation, including railroad, and electrical generation is with hydrogen.

We cannot go green enough without it. Foreign countries are building hydrogen trains and are putting them on the rails. Hydrogen is a solution to our truly poor-quality railroad transportation. The European market is investing $5 billion in a Swedish steel plant. The electricity for the plant will come from hydrogen.

But where do you store the hydrogen?

Well, the pipeline rights-of-way are already in place for Northville. This can be done safely and it can be an enormous boon to our Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and even New York State economies (Alstom, a subsidiary of GE, manufactures hydrogen trains in Plattsburgh). The alternative is that we purchase trains in America from foreign countries.

The vacant and underused parts of the Northville property must be protected for future use to meet New York’s climate standards.

Please come to the new hearing and tell your representatives that both plan A and plan B are unacceptable. 

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

Embracing 3V schools reconfiguration

The Three Village Central School District has finally made the decision to move into the 21st century and reconfigure our schools to a middle school model. This is a move that is decades overdue and was overwhelmingly supported by students, staff and the community at large.

An Opinion piece published in the March 14 edition [“Preserving what works in 3V school district”] is a direct contradiction to all that this long-awaited, and very necessary, reconfiguration represents. Anthony Dattero, a district guidance counselor and author of this piece, has stated his dissent regarding this move citing the “history” and “uniqueness” of the district. To that I must say that there is a stark difference between one of a kind and one left behind. 

As a dual certified teacher, licensed social worker and former guidance counselor, I simply cannot fathom why the benefits of this monumental change are not obvious to everyone who is committed to the growth and success of all of our students. And as a Ward Melville alumni and parent of a Three Village student I am thrilled for the students that will bask in the new opportunities that the reconfiguration will offer.  

Sixth graders will now have access to the study of a foreign language as well as an array of academics that peers in every other district in New York — except for one —- have. Ninth graders will finally, finally be housed in a high school as high schoolers. No longer will they be subjected to bus rides for upper-level courses and JV athletics. 

Gone will be the limited elective choices in art, music, technology, etc., as well as sacrificing these opportunities due to scheduling conflicts. This reconfiguration is akin to hitting the refresh button on a page long left with the cursor blinking.  

In Dattero’s Opinion piece and his many public comments at Board of Education meetings, he has claimed that the district did not do its due diligence and that the 100-or-so people that he has spoken to are now questioning the changes that are indeed coming. He doesn’t understand why the district is in such a hurry to reconfigure something that “isn’t broken.”

I counter his position with my own experiences speaking to those in Three Village and several other districts. Fellow 3V members are excited for their children’s new opportunities and cannot believe it has taken so long. Those outside of our community are stunned that our antiquated system still exists as no other ninth graders on Long Island are considered “junior high school” students. If we are hurrying this through, then it’s the quickest two-decade race I have ever observed at a sloth-like pace.

I am not always a fan of the decisions in this district, just ask Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, but my family has been a part of Three Village my whole life. My mother spent nearly three decades teaching at Ward Melville, my sister and I are graduates, and my daughter will be too. I have seen this place ebb and flow through good and bad, and we have been calling for this change for way too long. The community has spoken, and the time has finally arrived. Middle school here we come!

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Setbacks and uncertainty for Port Jeff LIRR electrification

There is even more bad news for those who support the $3.5 billion MTA Port Jefferson Branch Long Island Rail Road electrification project. 

It is clear that the MTA for decades has never been serious about supporting this project. The project was not included in the March 11 announcement from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg [D] concerning President Joe Biden’s [D] FY25 budget request under the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations Fiscal Year 2025 Capital Investment Grants New Starts Core Capacity Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program for the Federal Transit Administration. This would have been the federal funding source to finance these projects.  

To date, neither MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, NYC Transit President Richard Davey, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, have never been on board for electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch line. You will know within nine months if the MTA is serious about advancing this project. Funding would have to be included in the next MTA $51 billion or more 2025-2029 Five Year Capital Plan. It has to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2025.

Larry Penner

Great Neck


Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis, right, enjoys a string performance during the CommUniversity Day event held Saturday, Oct. 14. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University
By Samantha Rutt

Stony Brook University showcased the many facets of its campus community during the CommUniversity Day event Saturday, Oct. 14.

Starting at noon, the event highlighted the campus through hands-on interactive activities, entertainment and thought-provoking mini-talks, as stated in the campus newsletter. The free event welcomed all members of the community, faculty and staff, friends and families.

Although rescheduled from its original date, the community response to the event was extolled by CommUniversity Day executive director Joan Dickinson.

“Despite weather delays and changing plans, CommUniversity Day 2023 was a wonderful event for visitors of all ages,” Dickinson said. “The response was amazing.”

Held in the uniquely designed university staple, the Charles B. Wang Center, CommUniversity Day featured “neighborhoods,” or stations, for community visitors to explore. Some attractions included Tech & Discovery Zone, The Arts and Kazoo-university, Find Out in 15, Rubber Duck Race, Health, Safety and Traditions.

“We had a couple of past favorites, such as the Teddy Bear Clinic and the Instrument Petting Zoo, as well as some new activities, such as the Tooth Fairy Story Time and the Appliance Autopsy,” Dickinson added. “CommUniversity Day is a great way to give the community an inside look into Stony Brook through hands-on learning.”

Several students displayed research projects on topics ranging from the arts to health care and medicine. Karen Kernan, director of programs for research and creative activity at SBU, expressed her excitement for the event.

“I have always enjoyed CommUniversity — it’s great to see families connecting with all the wonderful activities showcased, from the arts to the environment to health care and medicine,” she said. “The picture would not be complete without our wonderful student researchers. We’re so proud of the work they are doing.”

Also present at the event was Stony Brook’s Island Harvest Food Drive, encouraging all eventgoers to bring nonperishable food items to contribute to the cause and for a free cooler bag.

CommUniversity Day was introduced to the Stony Brook community in 2017, created to connect the campus cultures and the surrounding area, cultivating stronger ties. SBU plans to continue holding this event for years to come.

“It was an incredible day,” Dickinson said.

Heather Banoub. Photo from SBU

Heather Banoub, Assistant Director of Communications for the Office of Government and Community Affairs at New York University (NYU), has been appointed Assistant Vice President of Community Relations for Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine. 

Effective July 27, Banoub will lead Stony Brook’s efforts to engage with surrounding communities and collaborate with local organizations. She will also manage marketing and personnel for the University and Hospital Community Relations Office.

“Heather’s deep background in community relations and her solutions-focused ability to engage on and off campus partners around the issues that matter to the broader community will make her an excellent addition to our campus community,” said Judy Greiman, Chief Deputy to the President/Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations. “Please join me in congratulating Heather and welcoming her to our campus.”

Banoub’s accomplishments during her nine years at NYU include generating an outreach framework and standards for construction that enabled renovations in more than 2,000 faculty apartments, serving as the primary spokesperson for the campus’ physical expansion plan that included construction of academic space, faculty and student housing, a new athletic facility and public open spaces, and developing the Urban Farm Lab, an experimental classroom for urban agriculture studies that was approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Banoub has also worked in government and nonprofit agencies, which included serving as a community liaison and caseworker for Congressman Gary L. Ackerman. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics and law from Binghamton University and a Master of Public Administration in public and nonprofit management from NYU, where she spent nine months as a project associate focused on advocacy process improvements with the United Nations’ NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security.

Banoub’s arrival follows the retirement of her predecessor, Joan Dickinson, who contributed more than a decade of service to Stony Brook and will continue teaching in the Honors College while leading the university’s efforts this year to bring back its popular CommUniversity Day which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Joan Dickinson, left, and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. Photo by Leah Dunaief

For Joan Dickinson, the new year will be a little less hectic after her retirement — which officially began on Jan. 6 — from Stony Brook University.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce awarded Joan Dickinson, second from left in front row, with its Harold Pryor Award for her community service. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

Dickinson retired after 25 years with SBU. For the past year and a half, she was assistant vice president of university and hospital community relations. Before her most recent position, she was community relations director in government and community relations for a decade after first working in the university’s communications department for 15 years.

Dickinson entered the world of academia in 1997 with a background in the corporate sector. While she found it to be different initially from her prior work experience, she tackled various roles, grew professionally and faced and met several challenges successfully.

Among the lessons she has learned during her tenure was the importance of listening.

“Every person has a story, and I became fascinated with hearing them,” she said. “That helped me become better at mediation and negotiation.”

She also discovered her leadership skills when “putting ideas and people together to solve a problem or create a program.”

Through the years, she interacted with people at SBU, local businesses and the university’s neighbors and worked to connect them with the right department at the college.

“I had the benefit of working with every corner of the campus community, and relationships with so many departments,” Dickinson said. “They are the ones who helped me get the job done.”

Relations with the community

One of the biggest challenges SBU encountered during her tenure was issues with off-campus housing in the Three Village area. University officials became involved with improving rental conditions for students and helping to make them better neighbors by working with former Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), the town’s Law Department, Suffolk County Police Department and the grassroots organization Stony Brook Concerned Homeowners. Dickinson said it was a good opportunity for the campus to work with the community.

“We all got together and came up with a plan, and I think that’s why that worked,” she said. “It was a very good town-gown solution.”

‘Every person has a story, and I became fascinated with hearing them. That helped me become better at mediation and negotiation.’

Tackling the issue led to better guidelines for rentals in Brookhaven, SBU programs to educate students on how to be good neighbors and what a legal rental as well as a rental agreement looks like. She said it was vital to teach students that tenants have rights, too. The program is still offered each semester. 

“Some of the landlords were just in it for the money, and some of the students were put in unsafe conditions,” she said.

Dickinson is proud of the K-12 program she ran while at SBU, which brings thousands of students from primarily underserved communities to the university for campus tours, hands-on learning activities, also empowerment and inspirational talks. The activities include a wide range of programs, including about health and STEM careers as well as art crawls. Dickinson worked with the Long Island Latino Teachers Association and several local school districts.

“The opportunity to bring students who never thought college was within their reach, bring them to campus and show them what’s possible, that was a lot of fun,” Dickinson said.

Besides interacting with the SBU community, Dickinson has been connected with local chambers of commerce and other organizations in surrounding communities such as Three Village, Smithtown, Middle Country, Port Jeff and Ronkonkoma.

“It was important to see how the communities live, because every community is different,” she said. “So, you find the best solutions to problems when you understand where the people are coming from.”

She said residents from various areas would call her when they had a problem with students or the university at large.

“I think that’s why having the community relations office is such an important part of the conversation between the campus and the community, because they did know they could call me at any time,” Dickinson said.

She added she always tried to relay to residents the value the university brings to the region as everyone is welcome to the campus to walk through the paths, look at art in some of the art galleries and more.

Overcoming the pandemic

She also created CommUniversity Day at SBU, which she called one of the highlights of her career, despite the event being stalled due to COVID-19. Before the pandemic, she said the university was able to organize three of the annual events, the last one being held in 2019, that invited local residents to campus.

‘It was important to see how the communities live, because every community is different.’

Dickinson said she was disappointed when COVID brought it to a halt as each year she was building on the event to make it bigger and better, with more departments participating. By the third year, she described it as “a well-oiled machine” with a wide variety of activities.

As for the pandemic, during the earlier months, Dickinson pulled together a team and headed up a PPE drive for hospital workers that not only included personal protection equipment for employees but also donations of iPads, comfort care items, chewing gum and tissues from the community.

The first few months of the pandemic were an unpredictable and intense time at Stony Brook University Hospital, she said. “We didn’t know from minute to minute what was happening, and I credit the leadership of the institution for getting us through that.”

The retiree said she will never forget the 2020 Easter season when store owners called to say they wanted to donate items because no one was buying anything. They donated flowers, chocolates, eggs that wouldn’t be used for holiday egg hunts and other seasonal items. Dickinson and a team organized the donations for hospital workers to take whatever they needed if they celebrated Easter.

“I will never forget this woman who stood there and looked at me and was crying, and she said, ‘I haven’t had a chance to go shopping for my son for Easter. Now he’s going to get something.’”

She added the hospital workers were working around the clock.

“I credit the hospital with saving our community,” Dickinson said.

Looking ahead

The SBU alum, who lives in Lake Grove with her husband, isn’t saying goodbye to the university altogether. She will teach two classes this semester in the honors college, after teaching at the university for 10 years. But with more free time, Dickinson, who said she is a writer at heart, plans to spend time on various personal projects.

Her former position, which she described as a “dynamic job” is still open as a replacement has not been found.

“Part of the reason why I liked it is I always said I never walked into the same office twice,” Dickinson said. “I never knew from one day to the next what was going to be on fire or put on my plate. It was always changing, and I found that that was just fun to me. That was just captivating. You never knew, and it kept you on your toes. I was never ever bored.”

Dickinson had some advice for whoever takes her place.

“I would recommend that the person, whoever takes over this position, that they have a clear understanding of where we’ve come from,” she said. “How has the university changed? How has the campus culture changed? And, understanding where we are now at this point in history.”

In the fall, OLLI classes were contained in the Social & Behavioral Sciences building, the Charles B. Wang Center, above, and Student Activities Center this fall. Photo from Stony Brook University

Continuing education students in Suffolk County recently found out speaking up can garner better results.

Students and workshop leaders enrolled in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University, a program that offers workshops, lectures and activities to retired and semiretired individuals, breathed sighs of relief when SBU representatives informed them at a June 27 meeting at the university that all OLLI classes will remain on campus. A few months ago, due to increased enrollment of SBU and OLLI students, it was proposed by university representatives that some OLLI classes be held off campus and members were told they could no longer park in the lot reserved for staff and faculty.

“There are some questions. So, I think there’s room for tweaking here.”

— John Gobler

Judith Greiman, chief deputy to SBU president and senior vice president for government and community relations, said while all classes will be held on campus, they will only be scheduled Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays instead of every weekday. Class duration will also be changing from 75 minutes to 60. OLLI students will be required to use the metered parking lots where they will need a hang tag, so they won’t have to put coins in the meters. The new parking arrangement will mean an added $75 in OLLI fees per semester.

The changes came after complaints from members and several meetings with Greiman, SBU community relations director Joan Dickinson and OLLI representatives, according to past OLLI president Robert Mirman. He said both sides had to bend a little.

“It’s understandable that the students of the university have priority, and they’re growing, there’s no ifs, ands or buts,” Mirman said. “But the majority of our members, the feedback that we got, was that they would prefer to be on campus.”

Workshop leader John Gobler said he believes the new plans are an improvement over initially proposed ideas, but said he and other members feel issues still exist. The new schedule has an hour break between classes, which will cause a good amount of downtime for those who take more than one course a day. He said at the June 27 meeting, members complained about the additional $75 a semester fee. Not everyone brings their car since they carpool, others need to park in handicap spots at the university and metered parking is limited, according to Gobler. Mirman said overall the $75 additional fee per semester will be less expensive than using the meters.

“The misperception, on the part of some, was that somehow the university didn’t want people on campus.”

—Judith Greiman

“We do have the support of the university, and they’re trying to help us, I’m sure,” Gobler said. “There are some questions. So, I think there’s room for tweaking here.”

Gobler also has concerns about equipment since classes will be offered solely in the Charles B. Wang Center, Student Activity Center and Social & Behavioral Sciences building, where the rooms don’t have the same technology equipment as other buildings. The one benefit of OLLI classes taking place in the three buildings instead of various buildings is OLLI members will know where their class location is as soon as they register. In the past, they had to wait until SBU
students completed registration to know where a class was going to be held.

Dickinson said current discussions with OLLI representatives has led to helping members become more involved with volunteer and community opportunities. She said many didn’t realize there were university events they could take part in like an international science competition where members can meet with the participating students and see their projects. She said many agencies in the community reach out to SBU and ask for help with reading to local students, musical performances, hosting campus tours and more. Those same volunteer opportunities will exist for OLLI members.

“Those kinds of connections and becoming more a part of the campus will be there,” Dickinson said.

Greiman said the university is happy to work with OLLI.

“The misperception, on the part of some, was that somehow the university didn’t want people on campus,” Greiman said. “In fact, we very strongly support the program and see the OLLI members as ambassadors and as part of the Stony Brook family.”