An issue that is galvanising the local community here on the East End of Long Island, where I spend part of the year, is the proposed closure of Stonybrook’s Southampton Campus. The main mover behind the scheme is the President of Stonybrook, Samuel L. Stanley, a technocrat who has betrayed all the promises made to the local community to ensure that the Southampton Campus has a long-term future. The rationale peddled by Samuel is that his hand has been forced by budget cuts. The real reason, however, seems to be Samuel’s wider ambitions to force through the privatisation of the entire SUNY system. This is a terrible, though fashionable, idea, which will put education beyond the means of all but the financially well-off and turn universities into corporations, whose bottom line becomes not the education of students but profitability. Rumours abound about what is planned for the campus further down the road, from a teaching hospital ( Stanley comes from a medical background) to a hotel and conference centre: concrete monstrosities that will be completely out of character with the local environment.
If money truly is at the heart of the closure then perhaps President Samuel should start by axing some of the managerial fat cats, whose bloated salaries are paid for by the state. Does Stonybrook University really need 22 – yes, that’s 22 – Presidents and Vice-Presidents ? The roster reads like the nomenklatura of a Soviet-era bureaucracy. As well as the President and a whole tier of Vice Presidents ( for Academic Affairs, Hospital Affairs, University Affairs etc.), there are numerous Associate Vice-Presidents, Assistant Vice Presidents and, even, Senior Assistant Vice Presidents. They all earn over $100,000 and in many cases $200,000-300,000. Their combined wage bill is a whopping $4, 626, 617 !! That’s two-thirds of the $6.7 million that, it is claimed, Stonybrook will save by shuttering the Southampton campus.
So, instead of reneging on its promises to hundreds of young people, and the community, why doesn’t Stonybrook cut the salaries of these overpaid pen-pushers and bureaucrats ?
For more information, go to: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/SAVE-STONY-BROOK-UNIVERSITY-SOUTHAMPTON-CAMPUS/106675082705901