A Community Celebrating Its Diversity - Higher Education

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A Community Celebrating Its Diversity



Founded in 1957, Stony Brook University is one of four university centers in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Established as a college for the preparation of secondary teachers in mathematics and science, Stony Brook now boasts more than 24,000 students across four campuses, including SUNY Korea, which is located in Songdo, South Korea.


Vice President Peter Baigent leads the Office of Student Affairs, comprised of 294 full-time and 62 part-time staff members across many departments, including the Office of Commuter Student Services and Off- Campus Living, the Interfaith Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Veterans Affairs, and the Women’s and Gender Resource Center, among others.

Vice President Baigent says he believes that inclusion of the diverse experiences of students, faculty and staff is a key component of Stony Brook’s institutional programming.

“Our diversity is an important point of pride for which we work hard to support,” Baigent states. “Initiatives like the community pledge and many others demonstrate our commitment to the diversity of the Stony Brook University community. [Our inclusion initiatives] say that we will strive for a stronger community that not only respects its rich identity, but celebrates it.”

Community standards encouraged by the administration are seen as supportive of student affairs staff at Stony Brook.

Ahmed Belazi, director of planning and staff development, posits that it is the flexibility to explore personal and
professional diversity that ensures a culture of diversity and inclusion at Stony Brook.

“Our staff are highly dedicated and effective professionals. The wide set of experiences and opportunities offered [to student affairs staff members] is an important feature of our organizational identity. Staff are able to pursue interests in teaching, management and are involved in some of the institutions most critical decisions.”

Alan deVries, associate director of residential programs for administration and services, believes the diversity of student affairs staff members enables them to connect with and support their diverse student body.

He comments, “Not only is our diversity reflective of the students we support and aim to develop, but also our own
experiences as first-generation students or recent immigrants, or any of the many rich experiences our staff bring to their work, offer us an edge in connecting with our students.”

Indeed, their commitment to celebrating the diversity of their staff, while striving to impact the lives of students, is what makes Stony Brook University’s Office of Student Affairs one of this year’s “30+ Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs.”

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