Responsibility and power: two things needed to make a great leader. Stony Brook is home to many honorable and worthy leaders in administration, but I think some have forgotten that leadership is not a job of isolation. Now, I am not here to call anybody out, *cough* President Stanley *cough*, but I would say that good leadership should provide a sense of presence and connection among the community. A good leader, in my mind, is someone that wants to truly represent their people, and right now, Stanley seems to avoid contact with the student body like the plague.
I understand that as a president of such a large university, it is impossible to be present for every event, meeting or game that takes place. However, Stanley’s lack of appearance on campus is disappointing and comes off as unprofessional. A leader should try to connect with the students; maybe go to the Involvement Fair, walk around, shake hands, kiss babies, all that jazz. I have seen Stanley’s face plastered on posters and in videos, yet I have not seen him in person and part of me suspects he is actually a robot behind a camera.
However, Stanley was spotted in attendance at the Men’s Basketball game this past Saturday, though his attendance comes which an interesting twist. Before attending the game, Stanely spoke with Stony Brook’s Marching Band and requested that band members surround him to act as his “body guards.” Now, first and foremost I give Stanley props for attempting to make connections with the students; attending a basketball game is a great social event to get to know his students. But requesting to be boxed away from the entire student body, that of which you should be talking to, does defeat the purpose of that whole “establishing connections” idea. Baby steps, Stanley, baby steps. Perhaps if you attended these events more than once a year, you would not feel the need to create a barrier between you and the students.
Being a leader of such a large university is no doubt overwhelming. There are hundreds of clubs, sports teams and organizations that I wish I could join if only I had the time to do so. And while connecting with the student body is important, running the university is Stanley’s job, and that comes first. I also believe though that being an effective leader is a huge part of being a university president, and creating that connection with the people you lead is the greatest way a person can lead.