After a rocky year and a half without a permanent leader at Michigan State University, the board of trustees for the college unanimously voted to hire Harvard Medical School graduate Samuel Stanley Jr. during a special meeting Tuesday morning.
Stanley currently serves as the president of Stony Brook University, a position he’s held for almost 10 years. He has been involved in higher education leadership for about 15 years, including roles as a professor, researcher, and administrator. At one point, he was the vice chancellor for research at Washington University, according to The State News.
Stanley joins the MSU community at a unique time, when the school is still grappling with a few federal investigation cases related to Nassar.
Interestingly enough, Stony Brook University — the school Stanley is leaving — currently has three open federal Office of Civil Rights investigations into how it’s handled sexual assault complaints on campus.
The Larry Nassar scandal and MSU’s president remain closely woven together due to allegations of poor handling of the issue by both MSU’s former president Lou Anna Simon — who has been charged with lying under oath about her knowledge on the investigation — and her successor John Engler, who was heavily criticized by the Board of Trustees for his comments the matter.
Simon resigned at the start of 2018 for what the campus community and beyond have said were insensitive comments and actions toward Nassar survivors.
In the wake of a threat from legislators to revoke MSU’s state funding, the college brought interim president John Engler on board, although he wasn’t much help.
He lasted up until this January, because of his comment during a Detroit News editorial board interview where he said survivors are “enjoying the spotlight” while the university is “trying to go back to work.”
Chairwoman of the college’s board of trustees Dianne Y. Byrum scrutinized Engler’s comments by saying they were “ill advised” and not helpful to the healing process, survivors, or the university, as reported by The Detroit News in January.
MSU decided in 2018 that the search for a new president would be private, which sparked controversy across the college community who already wasn’t trusting of the administration.
Members of the university community such as Nassar survivors, Reclaim MSU, and the James Madison College Student Senate were concerned about the private search as well. Dianne Y. Byrum, the chairwoman who criticized Engler, said the search committee tried to make the process as transparent as possible.
Stanley is the first president hired from outside the MSU community since the mid ’80s and showed his MSU support this morning through his green and white tie and “Go green” statement at the end of the board meeting.
While the name Larry Nassar was never brought up explicitly at the board meeting, Stanley did acknowledge the scandal indirectly. Audience members included Reclaim MSU members dressed in teal, the color of sexual assault awareness and prevention.
“I’m so excited about the trajectory you are on,” he said at the meeting. “At the same time I see a community … that needed healing. I want to meet with the survivors and hear their voices and thoughts. What happened at MSU will not be forgotten. Instead, it will drive everything we do.”
He will begin serving as president on Aug. 1, and said he plans to live on campus with a baseline salary of $800,000. As far as transportation is concerned, he will be provided with a vehicle with a driver for professional use, as well as a vehicle for personal use.
In a release, Stanley stated he is grateful for the opportunity to be MSU’s next president and advocated for creating safety on campus.
“We will meet these challenges together, and we will build on the important work that has already been done to create a campus culture of diversity, inclusion, equity, accountability, and safety that supports all of our endeavors,” Stanley said.
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