Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny is the first woman and first humanist to serve as President of Stony Brook University. After a distinguished career as a literary scholar, teacher, and academic administrator, she came to Stony Brook as its fourth President in 1994. Since then, she has worked to strengthen the core academic and research operations of the University, fostered close links with business and industry, and established new working relationships with the Long Island community.
Concerned about the state of undergraduate education at major research universities, Dr. Kenny headed a national initiative to address the issue. She launched and chaired the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University with funding from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The Commission's report, Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities (1998), advocated a model of education that would engage students with the resources unique to such institutions and lead them to conduct research themselves. Stony Brook is currently reorganizing its undergraduate curriculum along the lines recommended by the Boyer Report.
Total enrollment at Stony Brook University has increased from 17,000 to 22,000 during Dr. Kenny's presidency; faculty numbers are up 8%. In 2003, the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen rose above 1200.
Dr. Kenny has directed major projects of construction and renewal on the campus. The Charles B. Wang Center, celebrating Asian and Asian-American cultures, was completed in 2002. The Center is the largest single gift ever given to the State University of New York. An 8,300-seat stadium opened in 2002; named in honor of New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, it is the largest such venue in Suffolk County. A facility at 401 Park Avenue South, Stony Brook Manhattan, opened in January 2002.
The center of the campus has been remodeled around an expanded Student Activities Center and landscaped Academic Mall. All student residence halls were rehabilitated, in the largest such program in the nation, and several new residential buildings added. As part of her focus on student life at the University, Dr. Kenny encouraged the Athletics Program to advance to Division I status in the shortest time allowed by NCAA regulations and oversaw the adoption of the Seawolf as Stony Brook's sporting mascot.
New buildings for the Life Sciences, Humanities, and Engineering are completed, or in progress. Sunwood, the Melville mansion lost to fire in 1987, has been rebuilt as a presidential home and venue for University functions.
Stony Brook Hospital has begun an expansion that will include new Heart, Cancer, and Infant Care Centers. An Ambulatory Surgery Center opened in 2001, and the Matt and Debra Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities was completed in 2003.
The fiscal health of the University has been a priority of Dr. Kenny's administration. Stony Brook has seen significant growth in its independent income. The Stony Brook Foundation Endowment Fund has grown more than threefold since 1993. In 2000, Stony Brook ranked 15th among U.S. universities in terms of income from royalties and patents. The University's first capital campaign will be launched in 2004.
In conjunction with Battelle Corporation, Dr. Kenny established Brookhaven Science Associates in 1998 to administer Brookhaven National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy. Stony Brook is the largest user of BNL facilities.
Prior to her tenure at Stony Brook, Dr. Kenny was President of Queens College from 1985 to 1994. There she established the Business and Liberal Arts Program, the Journalism Program, the Asian American Center, the Louis Armstrong House and Archives Project, the Michael Harrington Center, and the Center for the New American Workforce.
She serves on the JPMorgan Chase Metropolitan Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the Goodwill Industries of Greater New York, the Long Island Association, and the Institute for Student Achievement. She has previously served as vice-chair of the Maryland Humanities Council, chair of the Folger Shakespeare Library Institute Central Executive Committee, steering committee member of the executive board of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, board member of the American Handel Society, chair of the Association for American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), and board member of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Dr. Kenny published five books and numerous articles in the field of Restoration and eighteenth-century British drama. Her two-volume scholarly edition of the dramatic works of George Farquhar was published by Oxford University Press.
Dr. Kenny has taught at the University of Texas, Gallaudet University, the Catholic University of America, the University of Delaware, and the University of Maryland. At Maryland, she was successively Chair of the Department of English and Provost of Arts and Humanities. Dr. Kenny holds bachelor's degrees in English and Journalism from the University of Texas, an M.A. from the University of Minnesota, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and honorary doctorates from the University of Rochester, and Chonnam National, Dongguk, and Ajou Universities in Korea.
She has been honored as Outstanding Woman at the University of Maryland, Outstanding Alumna at the University of Chicago, Outstanding Alumna of the College of Communications at the University of Texas, and Distinguished Alumna at the University of Texas.
Dr. Kenny is married to Dr. Robert W. Kenny. They have five children and three grandchildren.