• Alumni Association

A Message from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s President, Dr. Wayne J. Riley

SUNY Board of Trustees confers new campus name  — Downstate Health Sciences University

As many of you know, Downstate has a rich history that runs more than 150 years. Since 1860, our doors have been open to tens of thousands of students seeking and pursuing leading-edge education in the fields of medicine, nursing, public health, biomedical science, and the health professions right here in the heart of Brooklyn.  Downstate has grown with each new matriculating class.  As both the community and the times in which we live continue to change, so too does our institution.

Since Downstate’s inception, the institution has been associated with a myriad of names that have yet to capture the true essence of its offerings or highlight its unmatched value. Tracing our roots back to the mid-19th century, the Long Island College of Medicine became the first moniker that introduced the institution to our local Brooklyn community and New York City at-large. Since then, our institution’s inaugural name underwent a number of modifications—first merging with The State University of New York (SUNY) in 1950 to become known as “SUNY College of Medicine at New York City”, followed by an informal adoption of our “nickname” Downstate Medical Center in 1954, and finally, its most recent name change by the Board of Trustees in 1986 to “SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn.”

None of our former designations legally included the most recognized asset to our identity—Downstate. They also did not reflect the robust collection of academic programs and degrees offered across our five health schools/colleges or the clinical care provided within University Hospital. Downstate is the ONLY academic medical center for health professions education, research, and patient care within in Brooklyn, and while we have served millions across New York City, touching residents in all five boroughs, too few are aware that we even exist or how to refer to our institution, making it difficult to understand the depth of Downstate’s history and appreciate the promise of its future.

This exciting announcement is the beginning of a new campaign to help others to better understand who we are, what we do, and the breadth and depth of our important work within the higher education landscape, not only in New York, but also nationally and internationally. Our new name will now be used in all official documents, diplomas, certificates, etc.

This is just one of many steps, albeit an essential one, of a much larger, on-going and year long Downstate Rebranding Initiative that I have asked our Communications and Marketing Office to undertake. This will also include a subsequent name-change for our University Hospital of Brooklyn and a repositioning of all our clinical sites and clinic operations to DownstateHealth.

As the rebranding process ensues over the coming months and stretches into the next fiscal year, we will provide updates, sharing pertinent information so that each member of the Downstate Community knows the fabric of the institution’s makings, understands the purpose and vision for our current presence, and can state, without hesitation, the unique value of the Downstate brand.  Once we know and believe in who we are, the rest of the world will have no choice but to follow suit.

Chancellor Johnson will shortly issue a Press Release on behalf of the SUNY Board of Trustees, but in advance of that communication I wanted to share this wonderful news with our campus community first as the end of the 2018-19 academic year approaches and we begin our new year on July 1st.

Yours for a Greater Downstate Health Sciences University,

Wayne J. Riley, M.D.

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