Stony Brook officially welcomes fifth president

Dr. Samuel L. Stanley takes a flu shot Dr. Samuel L. Stanley takes a flu shot in the middle of addressing the audience in the indoor sports arena. Inauguration of Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, MD. (October 23, 2009) Photo Credit: Newsday/Photo by Joseph D. Sullivan

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After being formally installed Friday amid great fanfare as Stony Brook University's fifth president - and sharing his vision of more faculty and greater financial independence - Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. did something truly unexpected.

He took off his academic gown with help from his daughter Susan, rolled up his sleeve and got an injection of the swine flu vaccine from registered nurse Maureen Pavone.

"I will take this opportunity, as an infectious disease physician, to receive the injection form of the vaccine," Stanley said to gasps and applause. He was doing so, he said, because he cared about the health of the campus community and to highlight the "dangers" of the H1N1 virus and its "disproportionate deaths" among young people and pregnant women.

Stanley's nearly hourlong speech in the school's sports complex was the culmination of an afternoon of pageantry that attracted presidents of several local colleges and academics from upstate SUNY campuses.

The university's marching band led a procession past a reviewing stand that included Stanley, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and former Stony Brook presidents Shirley Strum Kenny and John H. Marburger III. "We really stand tall on their shoulders," Stanley said of their accomplishments.

Earlier, about 35 members of the Graduate Student Employees Union on campus held a "friendly welcome" demonstration to impress upon Stanley their desire for a dialogue to discuss their concerns. The union has been without a contract since 2007. Stanley, who is not part of contract negotiations being conducted by state and SUNY officials, said in an interview labor rules prevent him from meeting union representatives during negotiations.

"This is a friendly demonstration," said Kira Schuman, 25, a graduate teaching assistant in history and the union's business agent. She added the union was heartened by Stanley's publicly stated support for graduate students.

However, Schuman later charged she was escorted out of the inauguration because she was holding, though not wearing, a red union T-shirt.

"During the Inaugural Ceremony University Police observed an individual who appeared to be preparing to make a public demonstration in an attempt to disrupt the event," the university said in a statement. "To prevent a disruption, University Police advised the individual that . . . she should leave. The individual exited by the front entrance of the sports complex."

In his address, Stanley reiterated his calls to hire more "top faculty" - 400 over eight to 10 years - to help push Stony Brook to greatness.

And while the state is in the midst of a fiscal crisis, Stanley told an audience that included state lawmakers, "Cutting SUNY's budget is the wrong strategy. We're not a quick fix, but we're very much a part of the long-term solution."

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