The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has selected Dr. Samuel Stanley as the school’s next president, MSU announced Tuesday.
Stanley is the first permanent president appointed to the position after Lou Anna Simon resigned last year in the wake of criticism over how she handled the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Simon is in the middle of preliminary hearings for a Michigan judge to determine whether she should stand trial for allegedly lying to police in the investigation of Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics and university doctor. She has denied the allegations.
Former Michigan Gov. John Engler served as interim president after Simon’s resignation, but he stepped down in January after making controversial remarks about the girls and young women who were Nassar’s victims. His 11-page resignation letter was made public by the university.
Stanley succeeds the university’s Executive Vice President Satish Udpa, who led the school during the search by an 18-member committee for a permanent president.
“Well, I hope for the best, but the last person the board selected was John Engler,” attorney John Manly, who represents more than 180 survivors of Nassar’s abuse, told CNN.
MSU needs to “step up and settle the remaining Nassar cases,” he said, adding that the university should commission an independent investigation to understand “what really happened” in relation to Larry Nassar.
“As bad as what we know is, what’s worse is what we don’t know,” he said.
When asked if he would call for an independent investigation, like one recently commissioned by Ohio State University, Stanley tells CNN it’s too early to make that determination, but wants to make hearing from survivors a priority when his term begins in August.
“Honestly, the first thing I need to do is to get on campus and actually hold those conversations. I think there have been actions taken already by Michigan State University that I think are very important that help deal with this issue,” Stanley said.
“Because this is such a complex situation, I need to spend my first months on campus really getting to know the constituents and understand how I can best help lead and direct this. So it’s harder for me to come up with the specifics of what needs to be done because I haven’t really heard from them on this specific issue … I’m going to do everything I can to listen to their stories, to understand their current concerns.”
’Empowering, compassionate and thoughtful leader’
In its announcement, MSU said, “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.”
The Seattle native earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago before graduating from Harvard medical School in 1980. He completed his resident training at Massachusetts General Hospital before conducting post-doctoral studies and later becoming a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
In 2006, he became the university’s vice chancellor of research before becoming president of Stony Brook in the summer of 2009.
In five years under his leadership, Stony Brook hired 240 more faculty, according to the school. Stanley also has taken a special interest in economically disadvantaged students, championing the school’s Educational Opportunity Program. He also served on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
He chaired the board Brookhaven Science Associates, which manages Brookhaven National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy, and has served in various roles for the NCAA and the National Institutes of Health.
Stanley “has been an international advocate for gender equity and ending sexual violence in his role as one of two U.S. university Impact Champions for the HeForShe UN Global Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality,” MSU said.