In July New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked me to co-chair the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 such groups in New York state, which brought together entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics and government officials. Our purpose was to create a cohesive, workable plan for the Long Island region, which would leverage our assets, strengthen our infrastructure and help create jobs, both in the short term and for future generations.
Not surprisingly, what we realized was that innovation in the sciences and in engineering would be one of the most significant ways we could ensure that our area’s economy would continue to grow. Earlier this year, Hofstra partnered with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Lab, and The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research to create Accelerate Long Island, a partnership that will create start-up companies through the commercialization of research performed at our institutions.
Through the Regional Council, we continued to look at how research and partnerships with businesses and government could transform Long Island, for the betterment of our region and especially for our young people, our graduates and our students. For example, Hofstra and Stony Brook partnered on a program called EngINE, designed to increase the number of Long Island engineering graduates from our institutions each year to 750, more than double the current amount.
After months of work with myriad committees and working groups and hundreds of people, including many Hofstra scholars and administrators, the Long Island region was named one of the state’s four “Best Plan” winners at a statewide ceremony presided over by Governor Cuomo. More than 60 programs, including the groundbreaking EngINE program, were awarded state funding. In growing our capabilities in the sciences and leading the charge for smart economic development, Hofstra partnered with some of the nation’s leading research institutions and has begun the hard work of developing academic excellence and research in the sciences. This will allow Hofstra’s reputation, resources and academic strengths to grow further.
For example, in late July we welcomed the first class of 40 students to the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. The students, who come from 33 excellent academic institutions, are trailblazers, studying from an innovative curriculum that blends traditional study with real experiences and case studies – all from the first day. Among their first experiences was to be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). You can read more about their pioneering experience in medicine in this issue of Hofstra Magazine.
We also announced the formation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. While we’ve had excellent engineering and computer science programs for years, both have been relatively small. The formation of a school allows us to recruit internationally for a dean to lead the school and develop a cutting-edge curriculum. Having a school also helps us create an innovative program that connects students to the growing opportunities that science and engineering offer.
Our commitment to innovation and experience does not stop with the sciences. In November we were very fortunate to announce that the Commission on Presidential Debates would be returning to Hofstra in 2012 for the second presidential debate. Hofstra is one of only two schools ever to host two consecutive presidential debates. While we are pleased about the attention the debate brings to Hofstra stories and initiatives, we are even more thrilled to witness another class of students watch history unfold and participate in a real way in the 2012 presidential election process. In 2008 students volunteered with campaigns, interned with the media, helped with logistics and hospitality, produced events, spoke at town hall events and registered to vote in record numbers. We hope to improve on that experience in 2012 and bring our community together for another superb experience, including lectures by renowned commentators, political thinkers and journalists; conferences and symposia on the election; and some interactive and social events.
On the social side, several thousand students, families and alumni came together for our newest tradition, Fall Festival, which this year included Parent and Family Weekend, Homecoming, and Reunions, plus the Homecoming Parade, Vibe Live Music Festival and Out Loud (our comedy show). We’re looking forward to hosting these events again next year. As Hofstra continues to grow, we are working hard to create and encourage the strengthening of traditions that bring our community together, where we can enjoy and network and celebrate everything that is great about the Hofstra family. We continue to create other programs and events, such as our new Winter Blast in February, which promises to be an eclectic mix of basketball, Mardi Gras, Carnival, blues and jazz, and fun indoor attractions.
Thank you for all you do for the Hofstra community. I hope to see you on campus again soon.