EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr., a medical researcher who has led Stony Brook University in New York for nearly a decade, was named Tuesday as the next president of Michigan State University in the wake of the most extensive sexual abuse scandal in sports history.
Stanley was chosen in an 8-0 vote by the school’s board of trustees, effective Aug. 1. He will take charge of a 50,000-student university that has been led by a string of acting or interim presidents since the January 2018 resignation of Lou Anna Simon, who quit amid fallout over former campus doctor Larry Nassar’s molestation of hundreds of female gymnasts and other athletes under the guise of treatment.
“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 president Dianne Byrum, who co-chaired the presidential search committee.
Since 2009, Stanley has been president of the 26,000-student Stony Brook on Long Island, a part of the State University of New York. He previously was vice chancellor for research at Washington University in St. Louis, where he first did a fellowship in infectious diseases and became a professor. He earned his medical degree from Harvard and completing a residency in Boston.
Stanley called Michigan State one of the world’s leading research universities.
“I know the Spartan community has been profoundly troubled by the events of the past years that have shaken confidence in the institution,” he said. “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 will be the fourth man to lead the school since Simon stepped down. She now faces charges of lying to police about what she knew during an investigation into a sex assault allegation against Nassar, who also worked at USA Gymnastics and treated Olympians. The university’s former gymnastics coach and dean of the osteopathic medicine school also have been charged criminally.
Following Simon’s departure, board vice president and secretary Bill Beekman briefly served as acting president before the February 2018 hiring of former Michigan Gov. John Engler as interim president. He helped to broker a $500 million settlement with victims but was ousted in January , however, amid backlash over his comments about some of Nassar’s victims. Since then, the school has been led by acting president Satish Udpa, a university administrator.
Trustee Melanie Foster, who co-chaired the 18-person search committee, said Stanley is a “proven leader with the energy, integrity and compassion needed to lead our university.”
The school noted that Stanley is one of two U.S. university presidents to be designated as an “impact champion” by the United Nations’ “HeForShe” campaign, for making gender equality an institutional priority.
Michigan State has drawn scrutiny for mishandling past complaints against Nassar — dating as far back as 1997 — that allowed his abuse to continue until 2016 and also for mismanaging the fallout, including by hiring Engler. Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography, and his sentences equate to life in prison.