First graduating ClassFirst Graduating Class, Oyster Bay, 1961

Stony Brook University, New York’s flagship university and No. 1 public university, was established in 1957 as a college for the preparation of secondary school teachers of mathematics and science. Stony Brook is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The first campus was located in Oyster Bay, Long Island, on the grounds of a former Gold Coast estate. In 1962, a new campus was built near the historic village of Stony Brook on land donated by local philanthropist Ward Melville.

The university has grown tremendously and is now recognized as one of the nation’s important centers of learning and scholarship — carrying out the mandate given by the State Board of Regents in 1960 to become a university that would “stand with the finest in the country.”

The Stony Brook campus lies about 60 miles east of Manhattan and 60 miles west of Montauk Point. It is only a short distance to the Atlantic beaches of the south shore and the vineyards of the East End. Situated on 1,039 acres on the north shore of Long Island, Stony Brook University has a four-season climate, tempered by proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound.

Stony Brook University Mission Statement

The university has a five-part mission:

  • to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality;
  • to carry out research and intellectual endeavors of the highest international standards that advance knowledge and have immediate or long-range practical significance;
  • to provide leadership for economic growth, technology, and culture for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region;
  • to provide state-of-the-art innovative health care, while serving as a resource to a regional healthcare network and to the traditionally underserved;
  • to fulfill these objectives while celebrating diversity and positioning the University in the global community.




2020 – :  Maurie McInnis, President

Maurie McInnisDr. Maurie McInnis is the sixth President of Stony Brook University, one of America’s leading public universities and an internationally recognized research institution. As chief executive for Stony Brook, Dr. McInnis also oversees Stony Brook Medicine, Long Island’s premier academic medical center, encompassing five health sciences schools, four hospitals, and 120 community-based healthcare settings. She plays a key role in economic development on Long Island and in Stony Brook’s role as a co-manager of Brookhaven National Laboratory. McInnis most recently served as the executive vice president and provost for the University of Texas at Austin, a top public research university serving more than 50,000 students. A renowned cultural historian and author, McInnis’ academic scholarship has focused on race, slavery, and power in the American South.


2019 – 2020:  Michael A. Bernstein, Interim President

Michael A. Bernstein served as Interim President from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.


2009 – 2019:  Samuel L. Stanley Jr., President

Samuel L. Stanley

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, became the fifth president of Stony Brook University on July 1, 2009. Dr. Stanley was a champion of the NYSUNY 2020 legislation, which helped Stony Brook hire more than 240 new faculty over five years. He also prioritized fundraising and had the most successful year in the University's history, anchored by a remarkable gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation, the sixth-largest gift to a public university ever recorded. President Stanley served as one of 10 university HeforShe Impact Champions, fostering gender equity as part of the global UN Women HeForShe movement. He also committed to improving social mobility and supported Stony Brook's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which helps economically disadvantaged students graduate.


1994 – 2009:  Shirley Strum Kenny, President

Shirley KennyShirley Strum Kenny was the first woman and 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. She strengthened 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. Kenny launched and chaired the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University with funding from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Prior to her tenure at Stony Brook, Kenny was President of Queens College from 1985 to 1994.


1980 – 1994: John H. Marburger III, President

MarburgerIn 1980, John H. Marburger III became the third president of Stony Brook University, a position he held until 1994 when he became University Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering. Marburger's presidency coincided with the opening of University Medical Center and the development of the biological sciences as a major strength of the university. During the 1980s, federally sponsored scientific research at Stony Brook grew to exceed that of any other public university in the Northeast. In 1998, he became director of Brookhaven National Laboratory and president of Brookhaven Science Associates. He also served President George W. Bush as science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.


1979 – 1980: Richard Schmidt, President, Upstate Medical Center, Acting President

Acting President from 1979-1980.


1978 – 1979: T. Alexander Pond, Executive Vice President, Acting President

Acting President from 1978-1979


Sept. 1, 1965–Aug. 31, 1978: John S. Toll, President

TollIn 1965, John S. Toll, a Princeton-trained physicist and former professor and chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Maryland, became the second president of Stony Brook University. By the time he left, the school of 1,800 students had been built to one of 17,000 students and, in addition to arts and sciences and engineering, he added schools of public affairs, medicine, dentistry, nursing, allied health professions, basic health sciences and social work. Toll recruited elite researchers and scholars, including Nobel Prize recipient CN Yang, to develop competitive academic departments. For his contributions to the University, Toll was listed among “100 Who Shaped the Century” by Newsday.


Sept. 1, 1962 – Aug. 31, 1965: Karl D. Hartzell, Executive Dean in SUNY Central

Karl D. Hartzell was a one-year appointment at Stony Brook as Acting Chief Administrative Officer and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences


1961–1962: SUNY President Thomas H. Hamilton, Acting Administrative Head

From 1961-1962 Thoms H. Hamilton was the Acting Administrative Head, and subsequently SUNY Provost Harry W. Porter, Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Hamilton's representative.


1961: John Lee, President

LeeJohn Francis Lee, the former chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Department at North Carolina State, was appointed as the University's first president on January 1, 1961. His mandate from SUNY was to convert the Long Island Center from a science and engineering college to a full-scale university, complete with liberal arts and sciences programs and a graduate school. On June 25, 1961, the University's first commencement ceremony awarded 25 Bachelor of Science degrees at the Coe Estate In Oyster Bay. Lee served as the University's president until November 9, 1961. Stony Brook: State University of New York, The College History Series]


1957 – 1961: Dean Leonard K. Olson

OlsonLeonard K. Olson was named dean of the State University College on Long Island on February 14, 1957. His administrative duties included managing the Oyster Bay campus and overseeing the planning of the Stony Brook campus. Olson traveled throughout the United States recruiting top faculty as he intended "this college to set a high standard of academic excellence." The fourteen professors President Olson appointed had formerly held positions at the University of Oxford, Columbia University, Yale University and the University of Chicago. [Stony Brook: State University of New York, The College History Series]