SBU President Maurie McInnis steps down to become president of Yale

SBU President Maurie McInnis steps down to become president of Yale

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis celebrates with Class of 2024 graduates on May 17. Photo courtesy Stony Brook University

By Daniel Dunaief

The New York public university that could is looking for a new president.

Maurie McInnis, who started her tenure as president of Stony Brook University four years ago, is resigning to become the president of Yale University, effective July 1st. She will become the first permanent female president of Yale.

McInnis, who earned master’s degrees and a doctorate at Yale, is leaving Stony Brook after important wins and achievements for the university, several of which the Simons Foundation helped make possible.

The State University of New York plans to oversee the leadership transition until the downstate flagship university can find its seventh president.

“It has been a pleasure working with Maurie McInnis these past few years,” Marilyn Simons, chair of the Simons Foundation, said in a statement. Her “leadership at Stony Brook has left it in a strong position” and she is “confident that Stony Brook’s supporters will continue to invest in and build upon its successes.”

Maurie McInnis is the sixth President of Stony Brook University. Photo courtesy Stony Brook University

Reached by the Times Beacon Record Newspapers on the day of the announcement, some faculty expressed appreciation for McInnis’s contribution and for the positive momentum for the university.

“It’s a huge loss for Stony Brook University,” Heather Lynch, IACS Endowed Chair of Ecology & Evolution, wrote in an email. “President McInnis has been an effective advocate for our institution and has led a number of major initiatives that will pay dividends in the years to come.”

Governors Island win

During McInnis’s tenure, which started in March of 2020 just as the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic was causing dislocation in communities and universities around the world, Stony Brook was named the anchor institution of the New York Climate Exchange research center on Governors Island.

Competing against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and a group co-led by CUNY and The New School, Stony Brook University won the rights to develop the project with the support of a $100 million donation from the Simons Foundation and $50 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The exchange will house a 400,000 square foot, state-of-the-art campus dedicated to research, education and public programs that address climate change.

The center, which will cost $700 million to construct and is expected to open in 2028, will run solely on electricity generated on site and will generate enough power to provide some energy to the city. It will also be one of the first sites in the country to achieve True Zero Waste, and will meet all of its non-potable water demand with rainwater and treated wastewater.

“President McInnis inspired Stony Brook students, faculty, and staff to be bold and to confront global challenges like climate change,” Kevin Reed, Associate Provost for Climate and Sustainability Programming explained in an email. The Climate Exchange will provide a path for the development of local solutions to climate impacts in New York and beyond.

“The impact of her leadership at Stony Brook will be felt for years to come,” Reed added.

Simons Foundation donation

Last year, the Simons Foundation agreed to donate $500 million over the course of seven years to Stony Brook University. The university plans to use the gift, named the Simons Infinity Investment, for student scholarship for a diverse student body, endowed professorships, research initiatives, development of new academic fields and clinical care.

The gift from the Simons Foundation and the Climate Exchange win are “outstanding achievements at Stony Brook,” said Shirley Kenny, who was president of Stony Brook University from 1994 to 2009. “She is certainly to be congratulated for these and other achievements.”

During McInnis’s tenure, Stony Brook also reached its highest ever rankings among U.S. News and World Reports Best Colleges listing. The magazine named SBU the top ranked public university in New York, the 26th highest ranked public university in the United States, and the 58th highest rank in its 2024 Best Colleges guide. The University was ranked 93rd in 2022.

“We congratulate [McInnis] on this prestigious appointment, merely the latest in her series of extraordinary professional accomplishments,” SUNY Chancellor John King Jr. said in a statement. Her “election is a testament to both her exceptional ability and the esteem with which Stony Brook is viewed by its peers. I know that we will have superbly talented candidates to choose from as we begin this search for [her] successor to lead one of the nation’s most prestigious public universities and a true engine of research innovation and social mobility.”

McInnis, like other college presidents, contended with challenges during this time, including protests related to Israel’s military action after Hamas’s attack on October 7.

McInnis “dealt with the recent demonstrations on campus in an effective manner,” Bruce Stillman, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and an Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stony Brook, explained in an email. He congratulated her on her appointment at Yale.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY1) added that McInnis “deftly handled the Stony Brook protests and I am confident she will bring a needed dose of common sense to the Ivy League.” In an email, LaLota added that he has been “working with her for the last two years to ensure Congress is doing everything we can to support Stony Brook and I appreciate her fierce advocacy for the university.”

McInnis shared some thoughts on her tenure.

“I have been so proud to lead Stony Brook during this exciting time in its history,” McInnis said in a statement. “When I talk with other leaders in higher education, it is clear that they recognize Stony Brook is an institution on an upward trajectory, combining groundbreaking research with expanded opportunities for students from all backgrounds. I want to express my appreciation to all the faculty, students, and staff who are achieving great accomplishments. I am confident that Stony Brook’s best years lie ahead.”

 

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