With the departure of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. as Stony Brook University president July 31 and the appointment of Michael Bernstein as interim president, the school and the State University of New York have begun the process of finding a new permanent president. Elected officials and community groups have called on SUNY to include local representatives in the search committee and selection process.
“Stony Brook University is one of the crown jewels of the SUNY system,” said Ed Romaine (R), Town of Brookhaven supervisor, in an Aug. 26 letter sent to Kristina Johnson, SUNY chancellor.
Citing SBU as being ranked one of the top 35 public universities in the nation and a major health care provider for the community, Romaine described SBU as “an integral part of our community as an educational resource, employer and economic driver.”
“Because of this, I urge you to include at least two representatives from the community on your search committee for a new university president,” Romaine said.
The supervisor recommended eight different community groups that he felt had qualified individuals that could serve on the search committee.
“The president of the university is a huge part of the community. I believe the community should be invited to the search committee for the new president,” Romaine reiterated in an interview. “We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”
The Brookhaven supervisor brought up the issue of off-campus housing, particularly illegal rooming homes, which he acknowledged the school has worked with the town to crack down on landlords.
Romaine brought up traffic, especially the issues on Stony Brook, Oxhead and Nicolls roads.
“I proposed to the county they consider making three lanes north and south from 347 to the university because that’s where it really jams up,” he said. “… The university is already working with us, but the best way to confirm that is to make sure the local community is represented.”
The Three Village Civic Association also sent Johnson a letter.
“We appreciate the many benefits of being the home community of a large world class university,” the association stated in the letter. “However, with those benefits come many challenges for our small community. We think it would be beneficial for the search committee to include a civic perspective that can help bridge the specific needs of the university with those of the surrounding community.”
“We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”
– Ed Romaine
University officials, said in a statement that SUNY board of trustees sets the procedure for the search and determines the mix of committee members. Members of the Stony Brook Council will be included who are also community members.
SUNY Guidelines for Conducting Presidential Searches require that the local college council, the Stony Brook Council, follow a prescribed process and submit names to the SUNY board for consideration.
The search committee would consist of four members of the local council, including the chair, seven members of the full-time teaching faculty of the campus, one undergraduate student, one graduate student, one alumni representative, two campus-related foundation representatives, one academic dean, one professional or support staff member, one incumbent or retired SUNY president from another campus or a member of the chancellor’s senior staff designated by the chancellor.
SBU said members are nominated by faculty, staff and students. The faculty then vote via a secret ballot on the seven faculty positions, and the rest of the positions are selected by the council chair from the list of nominees.
Nominations for the committee took place over the summer, according to university officials. Voting on faculty representatives began on Aug. 26 and runs until Sept. 6. Once the faculty results are in, the council chair, Kevin Law, will finalize his selections and will convene the first search committee meeting. The first meeting will likely be in late September.
SUNY could not be reached for comment before press time.