SUNY Announces SBU’s Sixth President, Second Woman to Serve

SUNY Announces SBU’s Sixth President, Second Woman to Serve

Maurie McInnis has been named SBU's sixth president. Photo from SBU

After a months-long search, a new president has been chosen for Stony Brook University.

Maurie McInnis, currently executive vice president and provost at the University of Texas at Austin and a renowned cultural historian, was named SBU’s sixth president. Merryl Tisch, State University of New York Board of Trustees chairman, and SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson made the announcement March 26.

“This is an exciting moment for Stony Brook, and I’m confident Dr. Maurie McInnis will take the university to even greater heights in its unique role in fostering innovation, creativity and research that impacts the state, country and the world,” Johnson said in a news release.

McInnis will take over the role July 1. Michael Bernstein has been serving as interim president since last summer’s departure of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who took on the post of Michigan State University president.

As chief executive for SBU, McInnis will also oversee Stony Brook Medicine.

“It is now as important as ever to support all our campuses with strong and proven leaders who can quickly navigate challenges, such as the impact of the coronavirus, and keep our students on a path to the world-class higher education they expect,” Tisch said in the release. “Dr. Maurie McInnis has demonstrated experience and the characteristics of such a leader, and we are entrusting her to lead and inspire the students and faculty of Stony Brook University for years to come.”

McInnis is SBU’s second female president. Shirley Strum Kenny headed up the university from 1994 to 2009 after serving as president of Queens College from 1985 to 1994.

As the chief academic officer for UT Austin, McInnis leads strategic planning. Her responsibilities include academic programs and initiatives across 18 colleges and schools, budgeting for the university’s academic division and managing $1.8 billion of the institution’s $3.1 billion budget. She is also involved in the university’s fundraising efforts, leading a team of development officers.

McInnis said in the press release she was honored by the opportunity to lead an institution that is “both at the forefront of groundbreaking research and committed to advancing the American Dream.”

“The critical issues we face today have made it even more clear the important role higher education plays in educating tomorrow’s leaders and tackling today’s challenges by fostering cross-disciplinary research,” she said. “At higher education institutions, our responsibility is not just to admit students but to give them the tools to succeed throughout their collegiate careers and after graduation.”

McInnis earned her bachelor’s degree with highest distinction in art history from University of Virginia and received her master’s degree and doctorate in art history from Yale University. She is married with two children.

Her research has focused onthe cultural history of American art in the colonial and antebellum South. Her published works center around the politics involved in slavery. McInnis is one of the authors of “Educated in Tyranny,” which takes a look at the largely unknown story of slavery at the University of Virginia.

In a video posted to SBU’s YouTube page, McInnis applauded Bernstein’s service, especially in the last few weeks as SBU has been on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“He has been an inspirational steward in this extraordinary upheaval, and we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude,” McInnis said in the video.

She complimented how Stony Brook Medicine has responded during the crisis and how SBU has been helping to ensure the academic continuity of its students. The incoming president also praised how the SBU campus and local community have been working together during the pandemic.

“This is a team that I want to be part of, and I look forward to joining you this summer with my husband and two children,” she said.

McInnis added that with such an announcement she normally would be meeting members of the university community but couldn’t because of the current COVID-19 precautions.

“I so look forward to meeting you all in person,” McInnis said. “And if not shaking your hand, at least elbow bumping because at that moment we will be on the other side of this unprecedented public health crisis.”