In September 2006, its first class of 125 graduate students began taking courses during the evenings and weekends in a 10,000 square foot free-standing academic building on the grounds of the Eastern Campus of Suffolk County Community College, off County Road 51 Riverhead-Moriches Road in Riverhead, New York. The building contained seven wireless classrooms, a computer laboratory and student lounge as well as offices for faculty and administrative staff. Continuing education classes in real estate and the Center for Creative Retirement were also offered at the site.
The University began operations as a graduate-only campus. Original degree programs included the Master of Science programs in Childhood Education (Grades 1 to 6); Literacy Education (Birth to Grade 6); Teaching Students with Disabilities (Grades 1 to 6 and 7-12); Homeland Security Management (fully online); and the Advanced Certificate in Homeland Security Management (fully online). In the spring of 2009, the first upper division undergraduate program in childhood education was approved by the New York State Department of Education and subsequently the first class of undergraduates enrolled in fall 2009.
Riverhead's large population of historically underserved groups, including first-generation college students, recent immigrants and minorities support Long Island University's overarching mission of “Access and Excellence.” Further, the easy accessibility of the Riverhead location for residents of both the North and South Forks of Long Island and other Eastern Suffolk County towns is important as there are no other private institutions of higher education on the East End of Long Island. Finally, with Suffolk County Community College as an enthusiastic partner, both in terms of the campus space and services and program development, this unique partnership is a model in program development for areas underserved by higher education throughout New York State.
Long Island University's unique and innovative private/public partnership with Suffolk County Community College was the vision of Dr. Joseph Shenker, an esteemed higher education administrator who was the founding president of LaGuardia Community College and later provost of Long Island University's C.W. Post, Brentwood and Rockland campuses, and ultimately LIU Riverhead. With Dr. Shenker's untimely passing on September 20, 2008, he never saw his vision for the undergraduate educational partnership between LIU Riverhead and Suffolk County Community College come to be. However, no one will ever forget Dr. Shenker's continuous emphatic proclamation, “Riverhead is a winner!”
As evidence of early success, LIU Riverhead's enrollment grew from an entering class of 125 to 250 in 2011. Since its founding, the Riverhead site has been led by Associate Provost Jennifer Browne, a higher education administrator who served as assistant provost of Southampton College of Long Island University.
The location was officially dedicated at a ceremony on November 30, 2006. Officials in attendance were Dr. Shirley Robinson Pippins, president of Suffolk County Community College; Edward Travaglianti, chairman of the board, Long Island University; David J. Steinberg, president of Long Island University; Dr. Joseph Shenker, provost of the C.W. Post Campus, Brentwood Campus, Rockland Graduate Campus and LIU Riverhead; Angelo Mangia, trustee, Long Island University; Theresa Mall Mullarkey, chancellor of the C.W. Post Campus and a trustee of Long Island University; and Edward Shorin, chancellor of LIU Riverhead and the Brentwood Campus of Long Island University; and Ed Romaine, Suffolk County Legislator.
2006 dedication of LIU Riverhead: (from left) Ed Romaine, Edward Travaglianti, Angelo Mangia, Theresa Mall Mullarkey, Shirley Robinson Pippins, Jennifer Browne, David Steinberg, Joseph Shenker.