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Politics and Public Higher Education in New York State

Stony Brook – A Case History


Sidney Gelber

New York was the last state in the Union to create in 1948 a state-supported system of higher education, and Stony Brook became its first comprehensive University Center formed de novo in 1957, joining with the other state universities in democratizing higher education. This book probes the political conditions and bureaucratic actions that contributed to Stony Brook’s struggle to emerge as a major research university, gaining international pre-eminence.

«From a twenty-first century perspective, Stony Brook has climbed a steep slope to become competitive in the top echelon of American research universities. Given the recency of Stony Brook’s founding, 1957, this ascent has been unusual, both in its speed and in the difficulties the new institution encountered. In the pages that follow, Sidney Gelber tells Stony Brook’s remarkable story. A participant-observer who joined the fledgling university’s philosophy faculty in 1958, Gelber served as Stony Brook’s first dean of Arts and Sciences in the 1960s, and as its Academic Vice President and Provost in the 1970s and early 1980s. Gelber’s history of Stony Brook’s first 25 years is deeply researched and documented. It is told from a perspective of institutional pride and loyalty, marked both by collegial affection and, occasionally, by painful memory.... To Gelber, Stony Brook’s successful ascent against these odds was little short of ‘miraculous.’» (From the Foreword by Hugh Davis Graham, Holland N. McTyeire Professor of American History, Vanderbilt University)