University Stories

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From Lockdown To Coming Back Safe And Strong

How Stony Brook University Passed The COVID Test

By Maya Brown

It was early March 2020 and sun sprinkled the campus of Stony Brook University as Carolina Ruiz and her friends chatted about the upcoming spring break. 

And then, everything changed.

“We were prepared to go to break and in the blink of an eye everything changed,” Ruiz, a 21-year-old junior biology major, said. “I felt like everything went into chaos and it hasn’t been the same since.”

Actually, the changes were already in motion with conversations about shutting down a portion of the annual Staller Center Gala, scheduled for March 7. Then-interim president, Michael Bernstein, who has since left the university, remembers these discussions as the real beginning of the pandemic – and as a time when he would have to act quickly and under growing pressure. 

“We were all in sort of denial and thought that this isn’t really happening – and it’s not going to be as bad as everyone says,” Bernstein recalled. 

At the time, there were only a few confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State and none in the vicinity of the university. But on March 8, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed on Long Island – in Greenport, on the North Fork of Suffolk County. The 40 year-old patient was transported from Eastern Long Island Hospital to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. 

Suddenly, the global pandemic had arrived in Stony Brook’s back yard. The changes being discussed at the highest levels of the university administration were about to become real.

The Woman Who Brought Zoom to Stony Brook

The Woman Who Brought Zoom to Stony Brook

Diana Voss has been pushing Stony Brook University into the digital era ever since she was an undergraduate information systems student more than 20 years ago. “My undergraduate project was…

Battling the Pandemic’s Emotional Toll

Battling the Pandemic’s Emotional Toll

With eyes closed and head titled downward, participants in the mindfulness meditation workshop hung on the counselor’s every word. “Bring attention to the top of the head and notice any…

Dorm Life During Lockdown

Dorm Life During Lockdown

The pandemic brought new challenges to students living in dorms as Stony Brook University transitioned to distance learning. Freshmen and seniors alike adapted to residing on a campus where in-person…

A Tale of Two Students – A Mother and Daughter Embrace Lessons in Love and Learning

A Tale of Two Students – A Mother and Daughter Embrace Lessons in Love and Learning

A Tale of Two Students A Mother and Daughter Embrace Lessons in Love and Learning By Stephanie Melo It was just a few days after we celebrated my daughter Leila’s…

Confronting COVID: Stony Brook Adapts

Confronting COVID: Stony Brook Adapts

This podcast explores how Stony Brook University and Hospital stood up to the coronavirus. It was created and edited by students in the School of Communication and Journalism under the…

Professors Tackle Zoom University

Professors Tackle Zoom University

When classes resumed in the spring 2020 semester and Stony Brook University professors returned from their own mini sabbaticals, they no longer faced classrooms full of students staring back at…

Campus Life on Zoom

Campus Life on Zoom

The calendar may have said March, but on the first warm day of the spring 2020 semester, there was no other place on the Stony Brook University campus that called…

Here or At Home, International Students Have It Tough

Here or At Home, International Students Have It Tough

International students at Stony Brook University – both those who chose to stay on campus and those who returned to their home countries – have faced some difficult situations in…

A Call to Action

A Call to Action

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kirsten Wohlars was a data analytics consultant in New York City.  She was happy with her job at DAS42, a consulting firm for enterprise businesses.…

Seawolves Prevail Against the Coronavirus

Seawolves Prevail Against the Coronavirus

Stony Brook baseball looked a little different this spring. The team usually starts the season with a few road trips to play against southern teams like Clemson and Texas State,…

How the Gender Gap Widened for Women Academics

How the Gender Gap Widened for Women Academics

The COVID-19 pandemic set the clock backwards on closing the gender gap in academic publishing. With daycare centers and schools closed, women in academia, especially those who are mothers, were…

Waiting in the Wings for the Curtains to Rise

Waiting in the Wings for the Curtains to Rise

In the dark days of the pandemic, when gilded theaters in big cities and community playhouses in small towns shuttered their doors, the ghost light continued to shine as a…

Nurturing the Arts Online

Nurturing the Arts Online

Though museums across the country were shut down and slowly have started to reopen, Stony Brook University’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery found a way to keep students engaged in the…

Students Pitch in to Keep the Campus Safe

Students Pitch in to Keep the Campus Safe

During the height of the pandemic, some Stony Brook University students actually helped keep the university going, assisting with essential tasks and jobs that addressed the needs of their fellow…

Unsung Heroes

The walls of Carmen Marino’s office, tucked away in Irving College, are adorned with “Thank you Carmen” signs and cards. As a supervising janitor at Stony Brook University, she manages…

Short takes

Testing, Testing, Testing

Testing, Testing, Testing

The best time to take a COVID test is just after lunch. No lines, no waiting, no crowds – yet. It is a quarter to one on a dreary Wednesday afternoon – the designated day for residents in West Apartment J to get their mandatory weekly tests – and only two students wait outside the second-floor testing room in the Center for Global Studies and Human Development. The landing, once filled with…

Hot Off The Press

Hot Off The Press

The hand truck rumbled on the pavement, shaking and shifting nine neatly stacked cardboard boxes. It was a brisk November night, and we wore winter coats and face masks. Tumbling over a curb, we made it to the rear entrance of the Student Activities Center. The building was silent except for a few CulinArt workers shuffling in and out. Lights shone through the windows against the dimming sky, but no human shadows…

Where is Ferris Bueller?

Where is Ferris Bueller?

Just as they did in classrooms in the “before” times, most professors begin their virtual classes by taking attendance. Some call out students’ names, seeking a “here,” a “hi,” a “hello,” or a courteous but rare, “how are you?” Others simply scroll through the list of participants or check off students in the gallery view on Zoom. Professors may have thought their students showed little sign of life in traditional classrooms. In…

The Lonely Lunch

The Lonely Lunch

“You swiped it the wrong way,” the West Side Dining cashier at the front of the line said. She was referring to my faulty attempt at swiping my ID card. This was never a responsibility I had to worry about before. When I finally got the correct orientation and swiping speed right, I walked through the roped-off area and into the deserted dining hall. Feeling like a prisoner confined to the thin…