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SBU News > Academics > College of Arts & Sciences > Norman Goodman, Distinguished Sociology Professor, Dies at Age 88

Norman Goodman, Distinguished Sociology Professor, Dies at Age 88

Norm was a very bright, caring and loyal mentor and colleague. He was loyal to his three children, loyal to his wife, Marilyn, even as her health declined, loyal the New York Mets even during their heartbreaking years, loyal to his students, his friends and his colleagues, loyal to the Seawolves even when they were not competitive, and, importantly, loyal to Stony Brook where his tenure here was among the longest of any professor.

He was at Stony Brook when mud and construction were the mainstay of campus through its growth to a major national research university. As Fred [Walter] remembers, Norm was never shy about “speaking truth to power” standing up to our various presidents and administrators advocating for faculty colleagues, professional staff and students for the betterment of our shared university. He was loyal to governance and a tireless proponent of shared governance — a collegial decision making philosophy in which all constituent groups at the university had a voice in the develop of policy versus a hierarchical, top down administrative style in which chief administrators make decisions about policy in their image of what is in the best interests of the university — often with good intentions — but with little or no input from other constituent groups.

This philosophy was codified when he authored the original University Senate constitution and by-laws. As you can imagine, this caused some friction with our administrators who saw Norm as obstructionist. His passion for governance resulted in his facilitating and recruiting new leadership for governance — myself included — resulting in my service to the University Senate at Stony Brook and at the state-wide faculty senate for more than a decade. It was hard to say “no” to Norm Goodman.

Norm Goodman was a good man who was tireless in his caring for others. He will be sorely missed. Those who knew him are better people as a result of our relationship with him.

Edward L. Feldman
Associate Professor of Clinical Family, Population and Preventive Medicine
Past President, University Senate


I don’t recall when I got involved with the Senate — certainly over 20 years years ago. Norm was always a presence, in the A&S Senate, in the University Senate, and the University Faculty Senate. He never had compunctions about speaking truth to power, and questioning authority in firm yet generally polite terms. I can’t say he got me involved in governance (that was Deane Peterson and Hugh Silverman), but he was always a fount of knowledge about the university and its governance.

He served untiringly on many governance committees, probably ignoring our term limits in some cases. In the Executive Committee he was fast to support his positions, or state historical precedence, often in no uncertain terms.

Norm was adamant that the staff were as important to the University as the faculty, and were owed a prominent role in governance; I think he never forgave anyone who called the “University Senate” the “Faculty Senate.” He was also a strong supporter of the students and the student athletes. He had season tickets to Seawolves football, in section 105, just across the 50 yard line from my seats. I’m told he was often seen courtside at basketball games.

We allow him a big debt of gratitude, and I for one will miss him.

Frederick Walter
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Past President, University Senate


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. 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. 

Nancy Tomes
SUNY Distinguished Professor of History
Past President, University Senate

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4 comments

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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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