Members of the Provost Search Committee are confident that Dennis Assanis, a University of Michigan professor and director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, will bring together all fields of study in his new position as Stony Brook University’s new provost.
After an ongoing search since February, the 19-member search committee presented President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. with its top recommendations, and the announcement of his decision was made by Aug. 3.
“He is my absolute top choice,” said David Ferguson, chair of Technology and Society and co-chair of the committee with Nancy Tomes.
“He takes teaching very seriously at all levels,” Ferguson said. “Having a world-class scholar and at the same time be an award-winning teacher is rather uncommon. That was one of the many things the committee liked.”
A primary concern expressed during the community forums in March was finding a candidate that gave attention to the university as a whole rather than focusing on the sciences and research departments.
Of the 13 candidates, Assanis’s passion for undergraduate study set him apart.
“We wouldn’t have recommended someone who didn’t convince us that they value those different academic perspectives,” said Donna Woodruff, executive associate director of athletics. Woodruff said that it was an issue addressed with every candidate.
“There is a great, significant role that can be played and the fact is that it could be another great strength of the university,” Assanis said.
Other qualities that the committee looked for were leadership, research capabilities, ideas for fundraising and the ability to work well with the president.
Regarding the new SUNY 2020 plan that will increase tuition by approximately six percent for the next five years, Assanis said it will help families plan ahead.
“I feel it’s a reality we’ll have to deal with and the families now will know what they have to do when the students start the university,” Assanis said. Transitioning from a university where tuition is twice as high, he said, is a good investment.
The new provost will begin his duties on Oct. 1 and looks forward to adding programs that will benefit students. Assanis will also be taking on the position of vice president of Brookhaven affairs.