Stony Brook University interim president Michael Bernstein has officially withdrawn his name for consideration in the search for the next SBU president.
Bernstein made the difficult decision “after considerable reflection,” according to an email statement from SBU.
“As he considered his future career options, he felt he needed the freedom to pursue external professional opportunities, without the complication of being an internal candidate at Stony Brook,” the statement read. “Michael has stated that he has been enormously impressed with, and inspired by the excellence of the faculty, staff, and students throughout Stony Brook’s campuses. It is his and the cabinet’s expectation that we will continue to work together as a team over the course of this next semester to move forward on all of our key goals.”
The interim president took over the reins at the university after former SBU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. exited the position Aug. 1, 2019. In May of 2019, it was announced that Stanley would take on the role of president at Michigan State University in August that year.
In June of 2019, the State University of New York Board of Trustees approved Bernstein as interim president. Previously, Bernstein had served as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs as well as professor of business, economics and history at SBU since 2016.
During an exclusive interview with TBR News Media in August, Bernstein said he had been originally planning to step down as provost and move to San Diego. When Stanley announced he was leaving, he was asked if he would consider the interim role. During the interview, when questioned if he would consider staying permanently, Bernstein said he had an open mind.
“Let’s see if I like the job and more importantly let’s see if the job likes me and we’ll go from there,” Bernstein said at the time.
The news came as a surprise to members of the Three Village Civic Association, who were aiming to create a stronger relationship with the university, and TVCA 1st Vice President George Hoffman said the group was disappointed.
“Michael Bernstein was an affable and outgoing person,” he said. “The first thing he did when appointed interim president was to reach out to all of the community organizations and invite us for breakfast to discuss how we can improve the relationship between the university and the community.”
Hoffman said the civic association “had great hopes for future relationships under Bernstein.” It was something they felt like they didn’t have with the previous administration.
“It is our hope that the search committee will select a candidate that has the same understanding of the importance of community partnership as Michael Bernstein,” he said.
In September, SUNY announced a search committee that includes faculty, staff, Stony Brook Foundation members, students, administration, alumni and Stony Brook Council members. To aid the search, the committee set up the email address presidentialSearch@stonybrook.edu for comments and suggestions to be submitted.