Barbara Chernow was appointed to the position of senior vice president for administration in February by Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., adding to the list of her many management positions at SBU.
Chernow has held a variety of management positions in the past 14 years at SBU, where she started as a special assistant to President Shirley Kenny and rose to vice president for facilities and services. Her new position involves overseeing the University Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety and Parking and Transportation. She also plays an integral role in Operational Excellence, a program designed to improve the university while saving costs and minimizing effects on the environment.
“I have the best job in the world,” Chernow said, explaining that her job allows her to work with everyone involved in the university. When Chernow works on an initiative for SBU, she speaks to everyone involved in the project.
“No program works if you’re just going to do top down,” Chernow said. “No program works if you’re not going to do it with the people who are involved with the service.” She describes her job as “working with the people who are the recipients of that service to see which is the best way to go” and claims that “teamwork is better than working solo.”
Chernow is a graduate of Brown University with a major in economics and a minor in education. She became involved in administration as a way of joining “the family business in terms of working in education,” she said.
“Being a product of New York City public schools, I think that school buildings send a message about how we feel about education and our students,” Chernow said. “I thought it’d be a great way to contribute and be creative and be involved in creating those buildings. Building them to help education, help students get involved and maintaining them to create a comforting, nurturing place.”
Chernow came to SBU when her children were in elementary school so she could still have a career while being able to raise them. Her children have had an impact on her career.
“Some of my ideas at Stony Brook are ideas my children gave me,” Chernow said. “My daughter is a graduate of University of Vermont, and they have a very strong environmental stewardship sustainability program. My son is soon to graduate from Cornell and some of the things Cornell is doing, like Operational Excellence, they started a little ahead of us.”
Operational Excellence is part of Project 50 Forward, which according to SBU’s website, “will help enhance our fundamental teaching, research and service missions while building a platform to support the future growth of the university and strengthen Stony Brook’s role in the economic renewal of New York State.” The plan involves streamlining services while maximizing revenue and minimizing the effect on the environment. Chernow describes the project as finding “the best way to deliver a service in an efficient way and economical way.”
“I think it’s going to make [SBU] beautiful,” Chernow said. “I think we’ll be known for a higher level of academic excellence.”
Chernow said she loves working with administration on projects such as Operational Excellence.
“What I’m proud of is that in Administration, we work, once again, as a team,” Chernow said. “There are wonderful challenges throughout the day and meeting the challenges is the thrill.”
She said “the creative, wonderful thrill you get doing my job” is “finding out what the needs are, what the strengths are, what the dangers are and then working to overcome them.”
Stanley described Chernow as a “proven leader” in the press release announcing her new position.
“Since joining Stony Brook in 1998, her management skills have resulted in improved services and reduced costs and it will be beneficial, both in terms of internal and external interactions, for her to serve as the single point of contact between Finance, Human Resources and Facilities,” Stanley said.
Chernow said she enjoys working at SBU. “I enjoy taking on the challenges, having successes, working with fabulous staff and the more opportunities that arise, I’m interested in seizing them.” She said she has not looked past her career at SBU yet. “I think just working here on these projects and making good things happen and being able to use creative energies to support what goes on here is all that I’m thinking about right now.”
Chernow is looking forward to the future of the university. “There are great things ahead and I’m privileged to be a part of it.”