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Norman Goodman, Distinguished Sociology Professor, Dies at Age 88

Norm goodman featuredNorman Goodman, a distinguished teaching and service professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Sociology who enjoyed a 56-year career at Stony Brook University, died June 26 at the age of 88.

Goodman, a member of the university’s founding generation who began teaching sociology at Stony Brook in 1964, was honored in August 2021 by the University Senate, which officially designated the Senate Conference Room in Psychology B as the Norman Goodman Senate Conference Room.

Admired not only for his dedication to his students and his field but also for his passion and advocacy, Goodman, a sociologically oriented social psychologist, was the first person in SUNY to be awarded two distinguished professorships — one for service and one for teaching. He was one of the early members of the Department of Sociology, and was active in shaping it from the beginning. Goodman chaired the department for 20 years (from 1973 to 1989, and again from 2000 to 2004), during which time he sought to recruit others to the department. Thanks to his years of service at Stony Brook and his active engagement in the university, Goodman advised the department based on his institutional memory and firsthand knowledge of the procedures and policies.

Goodman also served as president of the Arts and Sciences Senate, twice president of the University Faculty Senate, served as vice president for the senate for three terms, and edited the SUNY University Senate Bulletin for more than 20 years. He was also active in the Executive Committee and Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation, among others.

“During his over half-century of leadership at Stony Brook University, Norm helped several generations of faculty, staff, and students understand the importance of university governance,” said Nancy Tomes, SUNY distinguished professor of history and University Senate president from 2018-2020. “During my term as president of the University Senate, he inspired me and challenged me to do the best job I could. Although we sometimes disagreed, we did so with deep appreciation for the other’s point of view. Norm was my mentor and my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

Frederick Walter, president of the University Senate from 2010-2014, said that Goodman was a significant presence and a “fount of knowledge” about the university and its governance. “Norm was adamant that the staff were as important to the university as the faculty and were owed a prominent role in governance,” Walter said. “We owe him a big debt of gratitude, and I for one will miss him.”

“Norm Goodman was a good man who was tireless in his caring for others,” said Edward Feldman, associate professor of clinical family, population and preventive medicine and University Senate president from 2014-2018. “He will be sorely missed. Those who knew him are better people as a result of our relationship with him.”

Goodman once said that he was particularly proud of his role in facilitating Stony Brook’s transition to a major, internationally renowned institution of higher education and being a major player in the effort to ensure that campus policies and practices are established through a process of shared governance.

Goodman was the author/co-author/co-editor of 10 books, including four textbooks in Introductory Sociology and two textbooks in Marriage and the Family. Goodman also served on the SUNY Distinguished Academy Board from its conception until his retirement last year.

“Norm was an inspiring figure, an impressive stalwart with a tremendous legacy,” said Nkiru Nzegwu, chair of the board of the SUNY Distinguished Academy and a distinguished professor at Binghamton University. “His thoughtful comments moved discussions forward, and his willingness to always speak his mind displayed his deep and abiding commitment to the Distinguished Academy both as an organization that represents the best of SUNY faculty and campuses, and one with an abiding mission of excellence that served the State as a whole.”

Read further reflections from SBU faculty on the next page:

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  • Norm Goodman was an important faculty member in the development of the university when I was an undergraduate student at Stony Brook in the late 1960s. As a member of the SUNY University Faculty Senate from SUNY Polytechnic Institute on and off for more than three decades, I came to know Norm as a close friend, a colleague, and a role model.

    Norm’s influence on the SUNY system can not be understated. He was instrumental in successfully reasserting faculty control over general education after the Board of Trustees unilaterally imposed a new general education plan in the 1990s. He also played a central role in establishing a system-wide course transfer policy that preserved curriculum integrity while protecting students from needlessly repeating coursework taken elsewhere. Norm served with distinction on two University Faculty Senate visitation teams that sought to heal relations between campus presidents and the local governance structure.

    As others have said Norm was truly a good man – a principled individual whose influence on the Stony Brook campus and the State University of New York will be felt for years to come.

  • Professor Goodman was elected as one of our five best Professors by the Class of 1968. Fifty years later he regaled us with stories from Stony Brook’s early years at our 50th Reunion. He was a true legend. I regret never having taken one of his classes, but consider his Reunion talk the height of that weekend. His dedication to his students and to Stony Brook will long be remembered.

  • Norm was there to meet incoming freshmen like me at O’Neill College where he was the master. We were connected from that minute forward — I remember Norm most of all in his O’Neill role — encouraging and facilitating student-run academic classes right in the dorm. The Residential College Program was the best aspect of Stony Brook U back in the day. Norm got me interested in student polity and under his sway I drifted from Chem to Soc and became the person I am today. RIP to a truly good man. =marc (’73)

  • Norm was a human welcome mat. However he was not the least bit shy about reminding this incoming freshman of the responsibility of “participation ” to this vision of a future StonyBrook. Buildings grew into towers, lecturers into legends and pizza delivery from “outside”became routine as “town and gown”intermingled beyond the “loop”

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