Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis at commencement ceremonies May 17.

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis at commencement ceremonies May 17. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis is stepping down after a four-year tenure to become the president of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, officials at Stony Brook announced Wednesday.

McInnis, a Yale graduate and member of its board of trustees, will assume her new position July 1. The State University of New York will oversee the leadership transition.

“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,” McInnis said in a statement. “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.”

President since March 2020, McInnis, 58, led Stony Brook through the COVID-19 pandemic and helped shepherd its continued rise as a world-class research institution and modern flagship of the SUNY system, officials at the college said.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis is stepping down after a four-year tenure to become the president of Yale University.
  • McInnis, a Yale graduate and member of its board of trustees, will assume her new position July 1.
  • SUNY officials said a national search for a new president is being launched.

Under McInnis’s leadership, Stony Brook was named the anchor institution of The New York Climate Exchange research center on Governors Island; awarded one of the largest gifts to a university in American history with a $500 million unrestricted endowment from the Simons Foundation, and achieved its highest rankings in U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges listings.

In a brief interview Wednesday, McInnis said that securing the lead role of the Climate Exchange as well as support from Jim and Marilyn Simons stand as highlights of her tenure. In addition, she's thankful for the increased commitment from Gov. Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature for higher education.

“I am so proud of what our university accomplished in the four years that I was there,” she said. “The first is the way our community came together — faculty, students and staff — to collaboratively put together a vision for the future.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. will make a recommendation on an interim president to the board of trustees in a timely manner.

“We congratulate Maurie on this prestigious appointment, merely the latest in her series of extraordinary professional accomplishments,” King said.

SUNY officials said a national search for a new president is being launched.

McInnis also serves on the board of directors of the Long Island Association. 

“Maurie has been a shining light for Long Island, propelling Stony Brook University to even greater heights as a flagship of the SUNY system that is world renowned for its research, innovation and economic impact as the largest single site employer in our region,” said Matt Cohen, LIA president and chief executive.

Earlier this month, McInnis had come under fire for the arrests of 29 pro-Palestinian protesters and the seizing, by campus police, of cellphones belonging to 17 of them. The Stony Brook University Faculty Senate narrowly defeated a motion to censure McInnis for her handling of the arrests.

The first three years of McInnis’ tenure were an “unqualified success,” said Richard Larson, president of the faculty senate. She took charge as the campus was facing the COVID-19 epidemic, serving as a unified, collaborative force for faculty and staff, he said Wednesday.

Her accomplishments included the Climate Exchange and having Gov. Kathy Hochul recognize Stony Brook as a flagship in the SUNY system. She was rated highly by faculty and staff and considered a “tremendous breath of fresh air,” Larson said.

The fourth and final year are a different story, he said, that began with the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

“And then things here became much more complicated,” he said. “It’s like the difference between a peacetime president and a wartime president and on the handling of the situation after the Hamas attacks I would be much more critical of her.”

Her actions bringing in police to deal with protesters and arresting students and faculty divided the campus, he said.

“She adopted a really strong law and order stance about university spaces,” he said. “In my own view, she is going to be viewed, unfortunately, with a mixed legacy because she is going out not with the positivity that she came in with,” Larson said.

McInnis said Wednesday that “these have been incredibly complex times on American college campuses and there is no pathway where you can please all the people all of the time.

“I understand there are some people who are upset in my decision,” she said. “We did everything we could to encourage the protesters to disband peacefully.”

Once they did not, the arrests proceeded “in a calm and orderly manner,” she said. “The freedom of expression for one group does not cancel the rights of another group.”

Gallya Lahav, professor of political science at Stony Brook University, said she was sorry to see McInnis leave.

“I really believe she did a marvelous job trying to stay above the fray and being true to the university vibe,” she said.

McInnis replaces Yale President Peter Salovey, who announced he would be stepping down from his role at the university after 11 years.

McInnis earned about $700,000 as Stony Brook's top administrator. SUNY officials reported in November that her compensation included $560,000 in salary and a $135,000 stipend from the Stony Brook Foundation.

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME