Trustees Name Samuel L. Stanley Jr. The Next President of Michigan State University

May 28, 2019

Michigan State University's Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D. the 21st president of MSU during a special meeting on Tuesday morning. His term begins August 1, 2019.


Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D. the 21st president of Michigan State University
Credit Stony Brook University

Moments after the board voted to appoint Dr. Stanley as president, he thanked them for the opportunity.

"I'm so excited about the trajectory you're on and I look forward to being part of that journey," said Dr. Stanley.

He also took time to address the sexual abuse crisis and scandal caused by former physician Larry Nassar.

"I also see a Spartan community that's had a turbulent, difficult time... a community in need of healing." 

Dr. Stanley said he wants to meet with Nassar's victims and their families.

"And I want to work with them and all of the campus community to ensure the changes that need to be made are implemented. What happened at MSU will not be forgotten. Instead it will drive us every day to work together to build a campus culture of transparency, awareness, sensitivity, respect and prevention... a safe campus for all. This is going to be key to all of our initiatives."

In 2009, Dr. Stanley became president of Stony Brook University in New York state. According to the campus biography, he is a Seattle native.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biological sciences at the University of Chicago and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1980. 

Dr. Stanley subsequently spent many years researching infectious diseases. According to the Stony Brook University: 

He went to Washington University in St. Louis in 1983 for a fellowship in infectious diseases in the School of Medicine, eventually becoming a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology in recognition of the collaborative nature of his research. A highly distinguished biomedical researcher, Dr. Stanley was one of the nation's highest recipients of support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his research focusing on enhanced defense against emerging infectious diseases. He is an expert in the biological mechanisms that cells employ when responding to infectious agents such as parasites, bacteria and viruses — a process commonly called the inflammatory response.  

In 2006, Dr. Stanley became Vice Chancellor for Research at Washington University prior to joining Stony Brook University as President.

Ellen Li and Samuel Stanley, Jr.
Credit Stony Brook University

Dr. Stanley is married to  Ellen Li, MD, PhD, a biomedical researcher and gastroenterologist. They have four children. 

Dr. Stanley is MSU's 21st president. In January 2018, Lou Ann Simon resigned after serving 13 years as MSU's president. Her departure came hours after Larry Nassar was sentenced to a 40-175 year prison term for sexual abuse of girls and women while serving as a physician at MSU. Simon is charged with two felony and two misdemeanor counts. She is accused of lying to investigators about when she knew of former sports doctor Larry Nassar’s sex crimes. Her preliminary hearing started in February and will continue in June.

Former Michigan governor John Engler served as interim president of MSU. In January, his tumultuous term as the school's interim president came to an end following heavy backlash to comments he made to the Detroit News regarding survivors of Nassar’s abuse. 

MSU’s Executive Vice president for Administration Satish Udpa was chosen as MSU's acting president after Engler's departure.