Evoking our vision, momentum and passion as a world-class research university, Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. delivered his seventh State of the University Address on Wednesday, September 28.
“We are ready to extend the reach and impact of the University on a local, national and global stage,” Stanley said.
Immediately after his speech, President Stanley welcomed the university community to the newly refurbished Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library, delivering on a promise that generated much excitement during the previous year’s address.
In a presentation that highlighted recent accomplishments while acknowledging the challenges ahead, President Stanley reinforced the University’s commitment to access to excellence, highlighting the economic development and groundbreaking commitments on both main and Medicine campuses, bringing attention to unprecedented diversity initiatives, celebrating faculty research that received attention around the world, and emphasizing the importance of continued federal, state and philanthropic support.
As is traditional, Stanley also used the occasion to welcome newly hired faculty. “You are the future,” Stanley said. “One of the reasons we stand so strong is the incredible quality of our faculty.”
President Stanley stressed the critical importance of diversity to the university’s quality and stature, highlighting the launch of Stony Brook’s Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. He hailed progress already made toward fulfilling the plan, including the creation of gender-inclusive and accessible spaces, increasing content on bias and gender equity in freshman orientation and classes, and enrolling the largest EOP/AIM class in University history.
He laid particular stress on the need to help students “Finish in Four,” noting that four-year graduation rates are important to the university’s national reputation and rankings.
President Stanley also highlighted the overall growth of the University, describing its national and global reach, and pointing out the upward trend in caliber of students. The class of 2020 is the most competitive (more than 35,000 applications for 2,900 spots) and selective ever in terms of average GPA and SAT scores, he said, making Stony Brook the 12th most selective public university in the AAU. He spoke of the high quality of new faculty, mentioning that Stony Brook has added 300 new faculty since 2011, “which is very important to the University’s future.”
Following the address, a ribbon-cutting and tour, hosted by President Stanley and Dean of Libraries Constantia Constantinou, introduced community members to what Stanley called “the biggest transformation in library history.”
On display was a $3 million modernization of the North and Central Reading Rooms, transforming the library into a centralized, interdisciplinary learning environment offering the high-tech features contemporary students require.
Costs of the renovations were offset by a $1 million gift from the Stony Brook Foundation. In recognition of the gift, the North and Central Reading Rooms will be known as the “Stony Brook Foundation Knowledge Commons.”
President Stanley thanked the Foundation and also acknowledged the contributions of students to designing a “flexible space for outstanding scholars, designed to meet the needs of a diverse student body.”
The revamped rooms now offer high-tech study suites featuring the latest technologies, 100-plus computers, increased WiFi access and about 1,000 seats specially designed for comfort, study and socialization. The spaces are beautifully appointed and designed to meet the highest standards of ADA accessibility.
“Student academic success today depends on meaningful collaborations,” Stanley said. “These renovations turn our Library into a dynamic space that promotes both independent and collaborative learning by maximizing our seating capacity, creating spaces for intimate groups and installing state-of-the-art technology wholly accessible to the Library’s 2.2 million annual visitors.”