Stony Brook students


“Fostering an environment which supports diversity is not just a SUNY commitment; it is one that Stony Brook genuinely embraces as well.”

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Before I acknowledge the presence of our new faculty and senior staff, I would like to take a few moments to briefly recognize a group of other individuals who lend their constant support, in the way of service, to this great, public university:

Government Officials:

  • Assemblyman Steven Englebright
  • Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick
  • County Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher

 Stony Brook Council Members:

  • Kevin Law, Chair
  • Robert Flynn
  • Lou Howard
  • Frank Trotta

Alumni Executive Committee:

  • Scott Middleton (President)
  • Gloria Snyder (Past President)
  • Sherry Sussman (President-Elect)
  • Robert Stafford (Treasurer)

Please join me, once again, in extending our welcome to all of these individuals, not only for their attendance here today but also for everything they do on behalf of Stony Brook University throughout the year.

One of the most exciting aspects of today’s Convocation for me is in having the honor of welcoming and presenting to the University community the newest additions to our faculty. I am pleased to announce that, this year, we have 66 new faculty members. We have done our best to include each of their names in today’s program. As they stand as a group, please help me greet them with a warm Stony Brook University welcome.

As new faculty members here at Stony Brook, you join the ranks of some of the world’s most distinguished teachers, scholars and academic leaders. It is not just bragging when we tout the outstanding quality of the faculty who call Stony Brook home. Our faculty are nationally and internationally known, and the quality of the graduates that they help to produce is second to none. With more than 14,000 faculty and staff members affiliated with Stony Brook University, you have joined a proud institutional family that is committed to academic excellence and dedicated to professional service.

I would like to take a moment to specially recognize two of our new faculty members, Dr. Crystal Fleming and Dr. Serene Khader, who are joining us this year as Faculty Diversity Program Award Winners through the SUNY Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. If you are here, please stand.
Dr. Fleming, who is joining the Department of Sociology, received her Ph.D. in 2011 from Harvard University.  Her research has focused on African-American Identity and anti-racism in the United States and she will be adding to our academic efforts in the areas of Race, Ethnicity and Immigration. Dr. Khader received her Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2008 from Stony Brook. Her research focuses on women’s empowerment in cross-cultural contexts, and she brings expertise on human rights, transnational feminism and global justice to Stony Brook.

Stony Brook's Commitment to Diversity
It is important that you know that fostering an environment which supports diversity is not just a SUNY commitment; it is one that Stony Brook genuinely embraces as well. I am proud to say that, with a sizeable international and ethnic minority student population, as well as employees who range in age from 18 to 82 and hail from more than 100 countries and all 50 states, Stony Brook is proud of its commitment to diversity.

At this point, I would also like to take the time to briefly recognize some of the newest members of the University’s leadership team. The individuals that I will introduce have had to hit the ground running in their new roles here at the University, and I might add that they have been doing an outstanding job

Administrative Appointments
As most of you know, just before the end of the spring semester, our former Provost, Eric Kaler, left to become President of the University of Minnesota. While so many of us had mixed emotions about Eric’s departure, we recognize what a wonderful opportunity it was for him to return to Minnesota, where he will celebrate his inauguration tomorrow. After a very successful national search, we are pleased to present to you today our new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Dennis Assanis, and his wife, Helen.

Dr. Assanis, who will also serve as Vice President for Brookhaven Affairs, will officially join us on October 3. Although you may have already read all about him in my campus announcement related to his appointment, since he is here with us today, I just thought that I would briefly mention that he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and holds four degrees from MIT, including three master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Power and Propulsion. A distinguished scholar, teacher and leader, Dennis comes to us from the University of Michigan and is widely recognized for his outstanding work in the field of energy, particularly in the automotive arena.

Dennis, we are thrilled that you and Helen could join us today, and we look forward to extending a more formal welcome to you and your family when you arrive in October. In the meantime, I want to thank, Dr. Nancy Squires, who had just been named the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences prior to our last Convocation, for her outstanding work as interim Provost. I would also like to thank Dr. Axel Drees, who has been serving as the interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences while Nancy has been at the helm of the Provost’s Office.
Other additions to the Stony Brook University community since our last Convocation include:

Please join me in welcoming all of these distinguished leaders to Stony Brook University.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pending departure of Mrs. Karol Kain Gray, our Vice President for Finance and Administration, who will soon be leaving us to take on a new role as Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We are extremely grateful for Karol’s service to Stony Brook, which extends more than 30 years. Karol, we will miss you and wish you all the best in your new role.

Finally, I can’t help but think back to this segment of my address during last year’s Convocation in which I recognized former Stony Brook University President Dr. Jack Marburger as our recently appointed Vice President for Research. Unfortunately, Jack passed away a little more than two months ago, and we had a memorial celebration in his honor this past Friday. Jack’s contributions to this University, and more recently to our research enterprise, will be long remembered, and he will be sorely missed among his colleagues and within the research community.


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