Stanley has vowed to engage with victims of Dr. Larry Nassar.
Michigan State University has appointed former Stony Brook President Samuel Stanley Jr. as its top administrator, following a months-long secret search.
Stanley’s appointment as Michigan State’s new president was approved by the school’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday. The Harvard-trained physician and former biomedical researcher was ushered in with an 8-0 vote and will receive a base salary of $800,000.
While Stanley won’t take over for Acting President Satish Udpa until August 21st, his appointment is intended to bring closure for a student body still reeling from Dr. Larry Nassar’s widespread abuses.
Nassar, a long-time sports medicine physician for USA Gymnastics, was accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and young women at his Michigan State clinic. Although he was removed from his post and sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, Nassar’s predation caused many to lose faith in MSU’s administration.
In the wake of Nassar’s exposure and conviction, Michigan State has seen two presidents pushed out. Lou Anna Simon, who led the university for 13 years, resigned in 2018 under intense pressure from the student body, and, eventually, the Michigan House of Representatives.
Simon was replaced, in interim, by former state Gov. John Engler, who’s tenure lasted less than a year—he was widely criticized for making remarks dismissive of Nassar victims, even once suggesting that some survivors were manipulating litigation and chasing publicity.
Udpa’s interim presidency has been without significant controversy—but his term was limited from the start, with the Board of Trustees promising to find a permanent replacement by summer of 2019.
Shortly after his appointment was approved, Stanley made reference to the Nassar scandal, pledging not to discount its survivors.
“What happened at MSU will not be forgotten,” Stanley said. “Instead it will drive us every day to work together.”
The Detroit News notes that Stanley has been in charge of Stony Brook University on Long Island for a decade. He’s also helped run a national laboratory, spearheaded a faculty recruitment drive and pushed for more diversity in education.
Some on-campus advocacy groups have voiced skepticism of Stanley, suggesting that the Trustees’ secret search meant that students and faculty were left unable to offer input.
ReclaimMSU—an alliance of Michigan State faculty, donors and students—was quick to take to Twitter, asking whether the Trustees had inquired about Stanley’s time at Stony Brook and whether he had a reputation for transparency.
“Or will they just take his word for it?” ReclaimMSU wrote on Twitter.
But board members did voice confidence for Stanley, if only vaguely.
“Dr. Stanley is an empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader, who will work tirelessly alongside our students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and broader Spartan community to meet the challenges we face together and build our future,” said board member and president Diane Byrum, who co-chaired the university’s search for a new leader.
Collectively, the board says that Stanley is “focused on healing” and has emphasized his desire to “listen” to survivors and be a “present president.”
WILX adds that Stanley is one of two university presidents in the United States to be designated an “impact champion” by the “HeForShe” campaign, which advocates for institutional gender equity.