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Stony Brook University

SBU: History and Timeline

Information and Resources about the History of Stony Brook University.

Timeline: 1975-1979

Physics and Mathematics departments move to new complex, marking the completion of construction of facilities for sciences. 

Deborah Toll, wife of SUNY Stony Brook President John Toll, christens the research vessel “Onrust,” a 55-foot ship constructed for the Marine Sciences Research Center, at the Stony Brook Yacht Club.

Professor Paul Lauterbur describes for the American Chemical Society “zeugmatography”, a new technique for use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy that he developed at SUNY Stony Brook. 

Phase 1 of the Fine Arts Center opens. It includes classrooms, offices, rehearsal halls, a foundry, studios, and an art gallery.

The Women’s Studies Program is established. 

The Urban and Policies program, founded in 1970, becomes the W. Averill Harriman College for Urban and Policy Sciences in honor of New York’s former governor.

Parents Day held.


Professors of physics Peter van Nieuwenhuizen and Daniel Z. Freedman, along with Sergio Ferrera, co-discover supergravity

A festival commemorates the establishment of the William Butler Yeats Archives at SUNY Stony Brook’s Center for Contemporary Arts and Letters. 

The Federated Learning Communities is established with its founder, Professor Patrick Hill, as master learner in its first unit, World Hunger. It has 24 students.

The Open House marking the dedication of the Health Sciences Center attracts 16,000 visitors to the site. 

Classes begin in September with 16,571 students and 977 faculty members.

Michael Elliott becomes second director of Hospital.

University President John Toll charges Elliott and Oaks with opening the hospital as soon as possible.

[HSC]: HSC is completed and dedicated.

[HSC]: 1976-78 Michael Elliott hires a core planning staff for the hospital: Assistant Director Martin Karris, Deputy Directory of Nursing Pura Laborde, Deputy Director for Financial Affairs James C. Rich, Deputy Director for Systems Frank Russo, Materials Manager Walter Birkhauser, Controller Paul Honor, Assistant to the Director Margaret Ort, Manager of Systems Planning and Development Sid Packer and Assistant Administrator Kenneth Pearson.

June 1978: construction of University Hospital, which occupies nearly three-quarters of a million square feet and stands 325 feet and 19 stories tall, is complete at a cost of approximately $150 million.

Ward Melville, campus benefactor, first Stony Brook Council chairperson and honorary chairperson since 1960, dies at age 90. Mr. Melville donated the 480 acres on which the campus is located, as well as his home, Sunwood, which was used to host recitals and house visiting scholars. The annual valedictory award at SUNY Stony Brook commencement is named in honor of him. Mr. Melville was chairperson of the board of the company that directed the Thom McCann shoe chain. 

The Poetry Center is established at the Center for Contemporary Arts and Letters, headed by Professor Louis Simpson of the Department of English, a Pulitzer Prize winner.

In June, WUSB (90.1 FM) begins public FM broadcasting. Until now, its AM signal was heard only on campus. 

On September 17, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building opens. Architect Roland Thompson designed it.

On November 11, the Bridge to Nowhere, construction of which began in 1967, is dedicated. Its completion connects the Stony Brook Union with the Fine Arts Center and Melville Library. The span, 30 feet wide and 475 feet long, passes over Center Drive. 

[HSC]: Eight departments open: Orthopedics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Radiology, Preventive Medicine, Neurobiology and Behavior, Neurology, Anesthesiology, Physiology and Biophysics.

[HSC]: HSC is accredited to offer residencies in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Surgery. Doctorates offered in Anatomical Sciences, Microbiology, Pathology and Pharmacology.

Major research is undertaken in magnetic resonance imaging, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and allergic diseases and organ transplantation.

Center for Industrial Cooperation opens at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Energy Management Training Program, founded at SUNY Stony Brook, conducts its first program for representatives of 21 developing nations. 

The Economic Development Conference (“Long Island at the Crossroads”) is attended by 250 Suffolk and Nassau county leaders. It adopts the “Stony Brook Manifesto,” calling for a “unified and coherent Long Island Community.”

The Patriots basketball team (22 wins – 2 losses) is ranked No .1 in New York State Division III, and No .9 in US Division 
III. The team wins the National Collegiate Athletic Association Eastern Regional Championship the first ever played at SUNY Stony Brook. The team advances to the National Championship, and completes the season fourth in the nation with a 27-4 record. 

SAINTS (Scientific Achievements for Non-Traditional Students), established in 1974, and expands its goals to recognize all academic achievements by non-traditional students.

“End of the Bridge” opens as a restaurant/night club in the former “Buffeteria.” 

State University of New York adopts a new motto: “To Learn, To Search, To Serve.”

Governor Hugh Carey cuts the ribbon at the Museum of Long Island Natural Sciences, attended by Acting President Alexander Pond and Museum Director Steve Engelbright. Englebright is the Museum’s curator and founder.

Six scholars from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) arrive at SUNY Stony Brook. SUNY Stony Brook is one of only six US campuses having exchange programs with the PRC since the US and China renewed diplomatic relations in 1978.

The American Psychological Association publishes a study ranking SUNY Stony Brook’s Department of Psychology 18th among the 180 institutions most frequently quoted in scholarly works. Professor Daniel O’Leary is ranked among the 100 most-quoted individual psychologists in all of history. 

The Department of Arts publishes the first issue of Art Criticism, a new journal edited by Professors Lawrence Alloway and Donald B. Kuspit.

A sundial is dedicated to mark the completion of the central academic mall. The sundial was donated by Turner Construction Company, which built most of the Health Sciences Center. 

Phase II of the Fine Arts Center formally opens with a series of programs including violinist Isaac Stern, the Warsaw Mime Theatre, and jazz pianist Eddie Heywood. The complex includes the Theatre Arts and Art Gallery, experimental theatre, two ‘black box theatres,’ a recital hall, and a 1200-seat concert hall.

Six former Statesman staffers found the Stony Brook Press “to give people in the University an alternative to Statesman and other media on campus.” 

Sigma Beta, a new local honorary society for freshmen, has first organizational meeting.

Gay Students Union conducts first Gay Festival on campus. 

Mass recruitment of hospital staff begins.

For six months prior to opening (1980) estimates show that $.64 was spent every second of every day to furnish and equip 36 floors-2 towers, 18 floors each.