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Past Presidents

samuel l stanleySamuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President
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. Dr. Stanley was Board Chair of Brookhaven Science Associates, was a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Long Island Association, the NCAA Board of Directors and the NCAA Board of Governors, and was Chairman of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.


Shirley Strum Kenny

Shirley Strum Kenny, President
Shirley 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.


John Marburger

John H. Marburger III, President
In 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 U.S. President George W. Bush as science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.


John Toll

John S. Toll, President
In 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.


John Lee

John Lee, President
John 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]


Interim Leadership


Michael Alan Bernstein, Interim President (2019-2020)
Michael Alan Bernstein had served as Provost since October 2016, and was appointed Interim President effective Aug. 1, 2019. He returned to the position of Provost on July 1, 2020.

Richard Schmidt, President, Upstate Medical Center, Acting President (1979-1980)

T. Alexander Pond, Executive Vice President, Acting President (1978-1979)

Karl D. Hartzell, Executive Dean in SUNY Central (1962-1965)
Karl D. Hartzell served a one-year appointment at Stony Brook as Acting Chief Administrative Officer and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

SUNY President Thomas H. Hamilton, Acting Administrative Head, and subsequently SUNY Provost Harry W. Porter, Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Hamilton's representative (1961-1962)

Leonard Olson

Dean Leonard K. Olson (1957-1961)
Leonard 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 Dean 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]