Stony Brook University found a new provost and senior vice president of academic affairs in Michael A. Bernstein, an economic and political historian who is the former provost of Tulane University in Louisiana.
Bernstein, 61, will be SBU’s chief academic officer and is expected to guide the academic mission of the university’s undergraduate and graduate disciplines, with the exception of the Health Sciences Center. The deans and directors of those colleges, schools, libraries, centers and institutes report to the provost.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Bernstein said he hopes to focus on enhancing the overall student experience at SBU, encouraging more faculty scholarship and developing better partnerships with the wider campus community. He wants to bring together the humanities and science/technology disciplines, he said.
“I think the role of academic leadership is to find these connections,” said Bernstein, who will begin his new role on Oct. 31. “This is an opportunity to be a part of a transformative institution and be a part of a top-notch public mission.”
Bernstein joined Tulane in 2007 as the university was recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which caused extensive physical damage to the campus, located in New Orleans. In his nine years there, he took part in the school’s efforts to help rebuild the city, create relationships in the community and raise the profile of the student body.
Prior to that, Bernstein spent two decades at the University of California at San Diego. He served as dean of arts and humanities and was a professor in the history department, which he chaired for six years.
Bernstein succeeds Dennis N. Assanis, who left SBU on June 30 to become president of the University of Delaware. In 2015, Bernstein was among four finalists in the well-publicized search for a new president at the University of Iowa. That state’s Board of Regents, in a controversial decision, selected a consultant and former senior vice president of marketing and strategy at IBM with no experience in academia.
He said he looks forward to working with President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley “and the senior administrative team, faculty and staff colleagues, student leaders, alumni representatives and community partners in sustaining a broad, balanced and robust commitment to excellence in scholarship, research, art-making, student learning and community engagement.”
Bernstein’s teaching and research focus on the economic and political history of the United States, macroeconomic theory, industrial organization economics and the history of economic theory. He holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Yale University.
“Under Dr. Bernstein’s leadership as provost at Tulane, both the STEM disciplines and the liberal arts flourished, benefiting from his keen ability to understand and help meet the distinct needs of the whole research university,” Stanley said.
“His experience at Tulane and in his leadership positions at UCSD, including chair of the faculty senate — among his many other accomplishments — lend a unique and diverse perspective, and I am looking forward to his contributions and leadership.”
Stony Brook, with an enrollment of about 25,000 students, is one of four university centers in New York’s public system. It is the largest institution of higher education on Long Island, with more than 200 undergraduate programs and 140-plus graduate programs.