Incoming Michigan State President Samuel Stanley Jr. — after being unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at a meeting Tuesday — formally made his first appearance in the MSU community at a community reception held Thursday morning.
The reception brought MSU faculty, alumni and students together to meet Stanley for the first time. Due to the fact that most undergraduate students are gone for the summer, not many students were in attendance at the reception.
"Again, (it's) an absolute honor and privilege to have been selected by the search," Stanley said at the beginning of the reception. "I can’t be more excited about this."
Stanley told the crowd that he's going to return to Stony Brook University for two months before he returns to MSU to begin his term as president Aug 1. He said there's a lot to be done at Michigan State and he's looking forward to work with the community.
"The passion people have for this campus, how much they care about it, that shines through. It showed through in my interactions with the search committee as well," he said. "One of the things I found most attractive about MSU was, again, how much they as a committee came together. And they really did a great job representing their constituents."
Some community members criticized the timing of this reception because the Board of Trustees sent out an email announcement for the event only about a day in advance.
Those in attendance said only people who are active in the community during the summer months were able to attend the gathering, which some said was not reflective of the community as a whole.
“In general this isn’t a (good) time. If they wanted student engagement they could have chosen a different time and I suspected that they don’t want engagement,” Betsy Riley, an alumna and a Reclaim MSU member said.
However, Riley welcomes the idea of leadership having a more active role on campus.
“I would love to see the Board of Trustees take a lesson from (Stanley) and spend more time on campus, more time engaging, more time being present here, not being virtual leaders," she said.
Riley mentioned that she heard of people who wanted to attend the reception but couldn’t because of the short notice that the Board of Trustees gave through their email-only invite.
After opening statements from Stanley, those in attendance surrounded him for questions.
“I understand why they did it because it’s seen as personable, but I think there are a lot of us that want to ask the tough questions about the future direction of our university, particularly given Stony Brook's history with sexual assault allegations," Riley said. "I think we deserve the opportunity to ask those tough questions.”
Wenni Qiu, an international student from China, who graduated in May, attended the reception to introduce herself to the new president.
Qiu will be here under Stanley’s presidency at the start of her graduate student career. She said she hopes he will “forge a more diverse and inclusive community.”
“It’s a different experience. I actually see him face-to-face instead of just watching news,” Qiu said.
Stanley said he will be living on campus and will hold more inclusive public meetings such as this one throughout his presidency.