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    Southampton Strives for Eco-literate Students

    Stony Brook Southampton will be one of the first sustainability campuses in the United States. The physical infrastructure will be environmentally friendly and courses being developed are centered on environmental issues, all in hopes of creating green minds for the future. ‘With a new university, new campus, new generation with new problems’hellip; You really have the opportunity to create something fresh for the time,’ SBU President Shirley Strum Kenny said.

    Stony Brook Southampton is a part of SBU. It was formerly known as Long Island University Southampton before it was sold. According to Martin Schoonen, interim dean of students for Stony Brook Southampton, New York State gave SBU funds specifically for starting Stony Brook Southampton. The funds were specifically meant for the Southampton campus and were not to be used for SBU as the school would not have received the money otherwise. If the Southampton campus was not bought by SBU, it had a high probability of being sold to developers.

    Students can take classes at both campuses. By fall 2007, Stony Brook Southampton expects to have 400 students enrolled, who will have the first opportunity to dorm in residence halls that house 40 students each. According to Schoonen, the residence halls will be ‘high performance green buildings.’

    The school offers many unique opportunities for students. ‘The hallmark of this campus is that it is student-centered,’ Schoonen said. The biggest lecture hall holds 120 seats and smaller classes allow for more student-teacher interaction. Students also have the opportunity to actively be involved in decisions on how to shape the campus.

    Access to the water allows for field experience that students can’t get at SBU, especially in majors like the Marine Sciences where about 25% of the curriculum, according to Professor Gordon Taylor, requires fieldwork. ‘We’re not going to create green minds only in the classroom,’ Schoonen said.

    According to Carly Kenkel, a senior Marine Science major who takes classes at Stony Brook Southampton, the campus offers a much more hands-on experience than SBU. Matt Halloran, a senior Marine Vertebrae Biology major who also takes classes there, said the experience is better because SBU is landlocked. ‘You can sit in a class for an hour and the next two hours you can go on a boat and have field experience without having to stare at a PowerPoint presentation,’ said Halloran.

    Liam Dolgin, a Marine Science major, said that the facilities at Stony Brook Southampton, as well as the professors who teach there, are terrific. There are some classes with issues, he said, ‘But for us overall, it is 100% beneficial.’

    SBU students who are currently taking classes at Stony Brook Southampton take shuttle buses between campuses. The buses also reflect sustainability, as they run on B20 Biodiesel, according to Jim O’Connor, director of Transportation and Parking Operation.

    Marcy Cockrell, a junior and Marine Science major, said taking classes at Stony Brook Southampton creates scheduling issues that prevent her from taking required classes at SBU, and she said she worries about not graduating on time.

    Students in the Marine Sciences are currently petitioning a required class that is scheduled to be taught there in the fall to remain at SBU. Cockrell said there is no benefit to having the class taught out there and students will just have to commute extra hours. ‘Stony Brook is pushing having classes at Southampton just for the sake of having more classes,’ she said.

    In the fall, the school will offer an environmental studies major, which is separate from the one offered at SBU. It will be the first of five majors. There will be no departments and the majors will be interdisciplinary.

    Each major will require classes in fields such as economics, politics, and culture in order to understand how various issues relate to the environment. Some classes will be taught by a team of professors from different fields. Professor Gordon Taylor said this is a positive thing for students, but from an administrative and faculty view, it poses some difficulties as to how professors will be evaluated and considered for pay raises and tenure. ‘A multidisciplinary campus leaves rules of evaluation a little uncertain,’ he said.

    According to Schoonen, who hopes to create ‘eco-literate’ students who understand the complexities of environmental issues and who take a global perspective. ‘For America to succeed, we need people who can think on a global scale,’ he said.

    The campus will also offer extracurricular activities that are not available at SBU. Schoonen said a 45-foot sailing boat was donated to the school that was used as a nucleus for a sailing program. In addition, once the campus population increases, there will be more outdoor activities like sailing, snorkeling, and the opportunity to get scuba diving certification. ‘As there is a transition into this new campus’hellip;there will be a better quality of life out there,’ Taylor said.

    For many faculty and administration, this is an exciting time. Stony Brook Southampton hopes to attract 2,000 to 2,500 students within the next five years. Schoonen said this is an once in a lifetime opportunity. He said it is very rare for an academic administrator to be put in a position to build a university from the bottom up. Schoonen said the process is like any business and they will keep working to adjust.

    ‘They are trying to make a very idealized campus and I don’t think it’s going to work — at least the way they think it will,’ Halloran said.

    According to Kenny, a university usually has strong established organization. ‘The ship does not turn easily,’ she said.

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