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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Stony Brook Welcomes President Stanley

After waiting almost an entire year, we have finally find out who Stony Brook University’s new president will be. After 15 years under the tutelage of Shirley Strum Kenny, who came out of the Arts ‘ Humanities world, Stony Brook is starting a new chapter with Samuel L. Stanley, the former Vice Chancellor for Research of Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Stanley’s credentials are impressive. He received his BA from the University of Chicago, MD from Harvard Medical School and completed his internship and residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital. Apparently unsatisfied with just practicing medicine, Stanley conducted post-doctoral research at WashU and accepted a faculty position there at the Division of Infectious Diseases. For anyone unfamiliar with academic institutions, particularly in the biomedical world, you would be hard pressed to find someone with a more prestigious lineup of highly ranked Universities on his resum’eacute;.

But is there substance behind the man? According to the Richard T. Nasti, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, Dr. Stanley is “articulate, thoughtful, deliberative, and strategic in his approach to academic issues of import. Also, he embraces a leadership and management style which empowers people to do their jobs.” So far, so good. A good university president needs to have the management and administrative skills but also must be approachable to, theoretically, any member of the campus community.

With that in mind, it would be good to recall just how diverse this campus is. We have people from all over the world, from every walk of life, with different goals, dreams and prospects. We are a high level research institution, develop cutting-edge technology and perform difficult diagnostic procedures every day. We enroll over 20 thousand students, two thousand faculty and many more support staff and employees on the main campus and three different satellite campuses. We are affiliated with two other high profile research institutions – Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Stony Brook offers 126 undergraduate majors and 140 graduate programs across dozens of disciplines.

The new president will have to be able to assess, integrate and prioritize the needs of undergraduate student life programs, Division I NCAA basketball games, Suffolk County’s largest hospital and the needs of research bases from the physics building all the way out to Southampton’s marine ecology labs, just to name a few things.

That being said, it is interesting that the search committee ultimately went with a man whose job it was to make contacts at the National Institute for Health (the Federal government’s largest research-funding body) and find grants for biomedical research. At Wash U, Stanley oversaw a research budget of $584 million, an impressive number that he helped generate. Stony Brook’s grants are closer to the $150 million mark; still impressive but with today’s economic climate, research dollars will be stretched thinner and capturing them will be even more important.

The university’s priorities are made clear in the press release, “Under his [Stanley’s] leadership, Stony Brook can indeed become a national center of cutting edge research.” We’ve come a long way under Kenny’s leadership, managing to shed a lot of the stigma of being an ugly state and, especially, SUNY school. It’s clear that Stony Brook wants to kick this up another notch and is planning to do so by focusing on research. This will help the University’s research and grad school rankings, especially in the medical sciences.

During her reign, Kenny always managed to remember the other parts of the university; undergraduates, attracting out-of-state students, arts ‘ humanties and social science-related departments, school spirit, sports and campus beautification. We all want Stony Brook to improve its standing, but not at the expense of these vital parts of university life. Hopefully, Sam Stanley will remember that a University’s primary purpose is education. Undergrads provide a steady source of funding to a school through tuition, but this stream will dry up if these students are neglected.

Dr. Samuel Stanley faces the difficult challenge of bringing up Stony Brook’s standing while retaining the core principles that Kenny helped direct. His approachability and strategic management will be needed more than ever.

Lets welcome Stanley to the Stony Brook University community and give him a vote of confidence. Hopefully, Wash U’s Chancellor, Mark Wrighton, is correct in saying “Dr. Stanley has been a terrific leader for many years at Washington University… he has been an impressive and talented leader [and is] comfortable working in a complex environment. Dr. Stanley works effectively with the full spectrum of people who make up a university community.”

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