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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    BRC Emphasizes Need for Strong Leadership During Crisis

    Editorial: BRC Report

    In 1994, Shirley Strum Kenny became Stony Brook’s fourth president, inheriting an institution that many say was in danger of losing its accreditation as an undergraduate institution.’ She established the Boyer Commission, which has outlined a model of how to provide top-notch education to undergraduates in a research-focused university.’ It’s been a decade since that report was published and adopted by the administration, and we’ve been prospering ever since.

    Faced with a host of bad publicity and faltering confidence from the public over the deaths of three infants last year, the President stepped up the plate and created the Blue Ribbon Commission to scrutinize the Stony Brook University Medical Center.’ When the findings of the report were released earlier this month, the administration promptly posted a press release highlighting all the glowing marks that the University had received, including a full pardon regarding the stem of the infant deaths.’ Notably absent from their response, however, was a strong course of action about moving forward in some areas that are obviously lacking.

    One of the major criticisms voiced in the BRC report is the ‘opaqueness’ and ‘lack of transparency’ that the faculty feels permeate the working environment in the Medical Center.’ Furthermore, speaking of faculty perceptions, the BRC report describes tunnel vision in each department that is counterproductive to a ‘culture of collegiality.” This is beginning to sound a lot like 1994.

    When confronted about this seemingly deep-rooted structural issue, Town Hall meetings are described as the answer.’ Luckily, Town Hall meetings in the Medical Center started several months ago.’ Are we to assume that the organizational issues that the faculty have described in such strong language have already been addressed?

    What made President Kenny such a powerful and positive force at Stony Brook in the mid to late 90s was her willingness to break with tradition in order to forge the best possible path for this university.’ We stand here today in the year 2007, with hospital faculty describing an administration that would much rather ‘sweep things under the rug’ than adequately address their concerns.’ Rather than tackling this in a strong way, making real and meaningful changes to the organization, it seems that this may be another example of taking something important and simply sweeping it under the rug.

    On a more superficial level, it is widely expected that President Kenny will embrace many of the recommendations by this report, including the creation of the position of Vice President for Medical Affairs and providing SBUMC with more autonomy.’ It remains to be seen if Town Hall meetings will provide the real change that many faculty and staff desire, or if they are simply a token gesture by an unresponsive leadership.

    We are at an important time in Stony Brook’s evolution.’ Over a decade ago, when faced with crisis, it took bold leadership to change the tide and bring this institution to prosperity.’ We can only pray that lightning will strike twice.

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