A History of Long Island University: preface to the future

A History of Long Island University: preface to the future

by david j steinberg

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Overview

This book chronicles the complex history of one of Long Island's most important institutions, its first chartered university. It embeds that story in the 20th century evolution of Long Island itself, a place that embraces the fourth and fifth largest cities in the United States (Brooklyn and Queens), two quasi-suburban counties (Nassau and Suffolk) and a total of 6.7 million people, the equivalent in population of America's tenth largest state. It has long outgrown its telephone area codes of (718), (516) and (631). Long Island's population growth has been atypically from West to East. Identified as America's first great suburban region, the burbs and the boroughs were mocked by Manhattanites who believed that their area code (212) defined the epicenter of American culture and economic power.

It was the Brooklyn establishment that took the lead in creating metropolitan New York in 1896. Brooklyn's ambition was to be the premier borough, but it was not to be. There was a slow decline of status and power through World War II and then a collapse of Brooklyn's economic, social and political strength, culminating in the humiliations of the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles and A&S being absorbed by Bloomingdale's. As G.I.s moved to Nassau after World War II, Long Island University followed that suburban trek and its Brooklyn students, buying Marjorie Merriweather Post's great Long Island estate and then an Inn overlooking the sea in Southampton.

LIU's history recounts a compelling story in which dreams and realities constantly collided. The turbulent dynamic of the 1960s from the day John Glenn had his tickertape parade up Wall Street in 1962 until a decade later is at the core of this monograph. That decade was one of the two or three times in American history when the fabric of society was torn asunder and national consensus tottered.

This was the era of the civil rights movement, feminism, free speech, foul speech, 'Nam, the draft, the flight to Canada, the abolition of parietal rules, the pill, the sexual revolution, a collapse of academic traditions, open contempt for most institutions of authority, Watergate, dead white men, Black Power, pot, the Beatles, Woodstock, long hair and scruffy beards. Millions of women became students; thousands, professors. Students attacked their own institutions of higher learning, because as enrolled students they already were the denizens of those campuses and because those colleges were among the few bastions of the adult world which students could readily seize in order to "liberate."

Long Island University experienced every one of these national phenomena, even as it endured its own tumultuous decade, including a savage struggle for power by ambitious administrators with divergent world views, a sharply disputed institutional mission, and the challenge of knitting together its three residential campuses. LIU stakeholders labored constantly to define and redefine how those campuses related to each other and where paramount authority resided. Success was endlessly elusive. Meanwhile both the City and the State of New York threatened to bankrupt private sector colleges like LIU by building their vast, publically funded networks at CUNY and SUNY.

In the early 1960s, LIU was an upwardly mobile institution with a distinctive Brooklyn swagger. It aspired to achieve national recognition. Then its charismatic leader, four-star Admiral Richard Conolly, died in 1962 in a horrific American Airlines crash. Over the next decade LIU was led by five chancellors, one of whom was effectively fired after just seventy-eight days. During this decade, students marched and demonstrated; faculty members protested and then militantly unionized; and trustees privately and publically fought with each other. Time and again The New York Times chronicled LIU's saga, often on the front page.

This book revisits that riveting but forgotten story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781539516750
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 05/10/2017
Pages: 516
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

David Joel Steinberg served as President of Long Island University from 1985 until 2013. Born in New York City, he was educated at Phillips Academy at Andover, Malvern College in England and Harvard College where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After a Fulbright year in the Philippines and a year at Columbia University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he received his M.A. and PhD at Harvard. He taught modern Southeast Asian history at the University of Michigan for a decade, rising in rank to a full Professor. He spent the next decade at Brandeis University, serving as a senior administrator prior to coming to Long Island University.

During his tenure, the University prospered. Embracing a mission of Access and Excellence, LIU enrollment reached 27,000 students, many of whom were first generation Americans or the first collegians in their families or both. Hundreds of millions of dollars were raised to invest in modernizing and upgrading the facilities, even while the endowment increased twenty-fold. Most important, the American Dream was alive on the several campuses. The student body, and, increasingly the faculty, were from every part of the world and every community in America. Walt Whitman would have been proud and pleased by the pluralism of the University as well as its commitment to educating sensitive, thoughtful and able women and men. LIU received a glowing report from the Middle States site visitors during its most recent decennial review in 2012.

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