About a year after the university announced it was going to conduct a presidential search following ex-President Lou Anna K. Simon's resignation, the Michigan State Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve Samuel L. Stanley Jr. — Stony Brook University president for almost 10 years — as MSU’s next president at a special board meeting May 28. Stanley officially began his term Aug. 1.
What did Samuel L. Stanley Jr. do before Michigan State?
Stanley became Stony Brook University's fifth president in July of 2009. Before that, he was vice chancellor for research at Washington University.
He has a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences from the University of Chicago, a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and he completed a resident-physician training at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also went to Washington University in St. Louis for a fellowship in infectious diseases and eventually became a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, according to his biography.
At Stony Brook, Stanley advocated for more funding for financial aid. He has been an advocate for gender equality. He is one of the U.S. University Impact Champions for UN Women’s HeForShe initiative.
“Universities are a key venue for discussing, instilling and ensuring gender equality,” Stanley said in a HuffPost article he wrote in 2016. “Our goals at Stony Brook include redressing gender imbalances from matriculation to graduation; using the University’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities to build global understanding of the role for men in achieving gender equality; and, integrating gender equality into the academic and social experience.”
Stanley is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public Land Grant Universities. He completed terms on the NCAA Board of Directors and served as chair of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity — which advises the government on issues related to sensitive biological research — for seven years.
Members of the presidential search committee and the Board of Trustees said Stanley is committed to diversity and inclusion, gender equality and student success.
"I stand here today saying, 'goal accomplished,'" Trustee Dianne Byrum said at the meeting that approved Stanley as president. "Dr. Stanley has received the unanimous support of the Board of Trustees and additionally has the full support from the search committee."
Former Associated Students of Michigan State University President and presidential search committee member Katherine "Cookie" Rifiotis said Stanley's accomplishments with student success impressed her. She said he has a proven record of "prioritizing student input and fostering good relationships with student leaders to address pressing needs around the campus community."
"Most importantly, he truly grasps what it means to foster accountability and work to earn the trust of a community," Rifiotis said. "Understanding that integrity and other institutional values must emanate from the top."
Rifiotis said one of the first priorities Stanley outlined when asked about his potential plans as president of MSU was to focus on healing through listening and to be an accessible and available president in the community.
"I am confident that Dr. Stanley is the leader we need to heal and to build a better MSU," she said. "I look forward for our community to embrace him."
Stanley's promises and goals
In a Q&A with The State News, Stanley said some of his top goals are to work to make a safer campus, create a culture that’s more accountable, emphasizes sexual assault prevention, promote education and awareness surrounding sexual assault, meet with survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse, restore trust in the university administration and be more inclusive and transparent.
Stanley said he is going to live near MSU's campus. According to a university press release, he'll be living at Cowles House after renovations conclude in early 2020.
He said he is eager to listen and learn about the community.
"Know this: I'm committed to being a great listener. I'm committed to learning from you," Stanley said. "I have a lot to live up to, but I will do my best to be the president that Michigan State needs."
He said changing the culture on campus is important to him. He said it's important to have a culture that encourages people to report sexual assault and that helps to prevent sexual assault from happening.
"How do (survivors) believe we're doing? How is the university progressing?" he said. "I know there's been a number of important steps taken by the university to help improve its policies and procedures."
He also said he thinks diversity and inclusion play an important role in improving the campus climate.
"In terms of what I would say to people who lost trust, I would say, 'give me the opportunity to get to know the campus. Give me the opportunity to meet with you and listen to you and understand the issues on campus. And then, when I promise to do things or say I’m going to do things, do I deliver on that? When I have tough decisions, do I make sure that I’ve talked to people and understand the issues before I make those decisions? Do I do them in the most inclusive way I possibly can for the university?' Those are the things I’d like to be judged by," he said.
Stanley also emphasized his interest in research at the university. He said he thinks there's an opportunity to grow research and make a larger impact.
"Michigan State is now well over $600 million, closer to $700 million — that’s very impressive, puts you in the top 30 or so. I’m not satisfied, and I’d like to grow that further," he said. "I think there’s an opportunity to have an even greater impact, and I’m particularly excited about the number of programs that are coming here."
Salary and other parts of Stanley's contract
According to the MSU President's Employment Contract, Stanley's base salary will be $800,000.
Stanley's term will end on July 31, 2024 unless he is terminated earlier or renewed.
The Board of Trustees can authorize an annual bonus of up to 20%, which would be $160,000, if they find that he meets the duties and goals as president.
Some of his benefits outlined in his contract are $28,000 contributed annually to his retirement plan, a university vehicle with a driver — as well as a General Motors vehicle of his choice for personal use, an annual membership at the University Club and Country Club of Lansing and tickets for himself, his wife and guests to all MSU sporting events.
Stanley's appearances since being chosen as president
Since Stanley has been approved as MSU's next president, he has made a few public appearances. One of the first appearances he made was at a reception shortly after the emergency board meeting that voted him in.
The reception brought MSU faculty, alumni, students and other members of the university community together to meet Stanley for the first time. Most undergraduate students were gone for the summer, so 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 — along with former Acting President and current MSU Executive Vice President of Administration Satish Udpa and Mayor of East Lansing Mark Meadows — spoke at the opening of a new protected bike lane on campus.
"Perhaps this can become a new standard for us,” Stanley said. “It is also an excellent example of the city and university working together to benefit students, area residents and MSU employees.”
The first Board of Trustees meeting of the 2019-20 academic year will be on Friday, Sept. 6. This will be Stanley's first MSU board meeting as president.
Stanley’s first days were filled with orientations and meetings, according to a university press release.