The new residence hall in Roosevelt Quad will be the largest single dorm on campus. So it will take a deserving individual to lend his or her name to the new building.
The honor will likely fall to Chen Ning Yang, a distinguished professor emeritus and a winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics. He served as the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University for 33 years, from 1966 to 1999.
Betty Gasparino, the assistant to the director of the C.N Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, is familiar with the contributions made by Yang to the university.
“I’m not surprised,” she said when informed of the decision to name the building Yang College. “It should be [named for him].”
Dr. George Sterman, the director of the CNYITP, confirmed that he had heard Yang was under consideration for becoming the namesake for the newest residence hall.
Campus Residences also dropped a clue on their website. A pdf file posted online that lists special living options erroneously placed a “Yang College” on the lists for 24-hour quiet dorms and substance-free living.
While all signs seem to point to Yang, the final decision on naming the new building is still weeks away. There are still several steps that the university will have to take before Yang’s name can be officially placed on the building, and Sterman suggested that approval would also have to be obtained from SUNY officials in Albany.
SUNY spokesman David Henahan was not immediately available for comment.
University spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow would not confirm that Yang’s name has the backing of university officials, but she was surprised and unaware that Yang’s name was already being used on university documentation.
“It would be unfortunate for unofficial publicity to impact the outcome in any way,” said Sheprow in an email to Think.
The timing of the official announcement may be linked to this year’s Stars of Stony Brook gala, an annual fundraising event held in New York City. C. N. Yang is this year’s honoree.
John S. Toll, Stony Brook University’s first president, brought Yang to Stony Brook from Princeton University in the mid 1960’s to help create and direct an Institute for Theoretical Physics.
“In my judgment, the single most important development that established the State University of New York at Stony Brook was the decision of Professor C. N. Yang to accept the Einstein Professorship of Physics at SUNY Stony Brook,” said Toll in a letter in 1991.
“After more than 25 years at Stony Brook, Professor Yang has continued to be, by far, the most valuable member of the university community,” he added.
Before coming to Stony Brook University, Yang was a postdoctoral fellow, then full time professor at Princeton University, working under the supervision of J. Robert Oppenheimer. During his 17 years at Princeton, he took a year off to work at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1953 to 1954.
When Oppenheimer announced his retirement as director of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, he recommended Yang as his replacement. Yang turned down the offer and left for Stony Brook a year later.
Yang has been recognized repeatedly for his achievements in the world of physics. He won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1957, and while at Stony Brook won a National Medal of Science in 1986, and a Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1993.
The new building will accommodate 600 beds and is scheduled to open in time for the Fall 2010 semester.
Additional reporting by Alicia Kanauer