Stony Brook University officials today announced their selection of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. as the next president of the university.
The decision will not be finalized until the State University of New York Board of Trustees convenes to approve the selection of Dr. Stanley, but SUNY Public Relations official David Henahan said that Chancellor-Elect Nancy Zimpher would not have endorsed Stanley if she did not have a “high level of confidence” in him.
Richard Nasti, the Stony Brook graduate who chaired the presidential search committee, was also confident in Stanley’s ability to fill the role.
“He has a leadership style that tries to empower people,” said Nasti in a phone conversation. “He will bring with him the best people and empower them to do their jobs.”
Stanley is currently working at Washington University in St. Louis, where he serves as Vice Chancellor for Research.
Stanley’s background is largely focused in the medical fields. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in biological sciences, he attended the Harvard University Medical School.
His postdoctoral work was done at Washington University, where he began focusing heavily on immunology. In addition to his current role at Washington University, he serves as the Director and Principle Investigator at the Midwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, which, according to their website, is “dedicated to improving national defenses against bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.”
Stanley’s appointment indicates that the university administration is making serious efforts to improve its hard sciences and medical programs and elevate the status of Stony Brook as one of the nation’s top public research universities. Washington University currently ranks 12th in the country as a research university by US News and World Report.
The renewed focus on sciences and the medical professions could be a contentious issue with students and faculty in the arts and humanities majors, who have already expressed their frustration with President Kenny for seemingly neglecting their departments in favor of the more research-oriented programs.
But Nasti said that the committee was mindful of the needs of the humanities departments.
“We were very focused on those questions,” Nasti said. “And we would not have recommended Dr. Stanley if he did not have a solid grasp of the things that make the university great.”
Nasti also noted that the search committee, which included a broad array of university representatives, recommended Stanley to the SUNY Board unanimously.
“There was significant representation by faculty from the west side of campus who are much better equipped to address those concerns,” he added.
The transition from Washington University to Stony Brook will likely take some time. Washington University has slightly more than 12,000 students, only half of which are undergraduates. That is a fraction of the size of Stony Brook, which has almost twice the number of students and close to three times as many undergraduates.
But the change in environments is not a big concern to Nasti.
“Dr. Stanley is a tremendous leader and a tremendous manager,” he said.
Those skills will be of great necessity to the next president. Stanley will inherit a university that faces increasing budget cuts and tuition increases, as well as an athletics program that is in the middle of a great period of growth and improvement.
Now that the search committee has made its decision, Stanley’s appointment rests with SUNY Board of Trustees.
David Henahan could not give an exact timeline for when the Board would meet, but in a press release made public by the university today, the university indicated that the trustees would be convening in “the near future.”
Stanley would take the reigns of the university the day that President Kenny’s term ends on July 1st. But his transition would start much sooner.
“We are currently putting a transition team together,” Nasti said. “The day he gets approved, I will guarantee that Dr. Stanley will be more at Stony Brook than at Washington University.
Welcome aboard, President-Elect Stanley.