Biography


President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., was selected by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees as MSU’s 21st president, effective Aug. 1, 2019.

Since his arrival at MSU, Dr. Stanley has moved decisively to ensure the university is a safe, respectful and welcoming place for all. Student success and well-being, and continuing to grow MSU’s extraordinary regional and global impact, are his continuing top priorities.

Committed to first listening to and learning from members of the campus community, he has visited each of the university’s 17 degree-granting colleges and met with thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as other groups and external stakeholders.

In his first few months, Dr. Stanley oversaw several changes in the institution’s administration, organization and programs to improve accountability, operations and services. These include reorganizing oversight of the university’s three medical colleges and its clinical services. He seeks to continue to expand the university’s research portfolio, exceeding $715 million in 2018 expenditures, recognizing MSU’s role in creating new knowledge and addressing the world’s most significant challenges.

Dr. Stanley has launched a comprehensive strategic planning process for the university. He also named a diversity, equity and inclusion planning committee and has commissioned a feasibility study for a multicultural center. He appointed two expert presidential advisers who are directing the development and implementation of an action plan for the university to become a leader in preventing relationship violence and sexual misconduct.

Prior to becoming MSU’s 21st president, Dr. Stanley served as president of Stony Brook University on Long Island in New York. As its fifth president, he recorded the most successful fundraising year in the university’s history and championed legislation that helped Stony Brook hire more than 240 new faculty over five years. At Stony Brook, he also focused on improving campus diversity and student success and elevated the university’s research profile through means such as a new institute for artificial intelligence. He chaired the board of Brookhaven Science Associates, which manages Brookhaven National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Born in Seattle, Dr. Stanley earned a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Chicago. After earning his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1980, he completed resident-physician training at Massachusetts General Hospital and then went to Washington University in St. Louis in 1983 for a School of Medicine fellowship in infectious diseases. There, he became a professor in the departments of both medicine and molecular microbiology in recognition of the collaborative nature of his research. 

A distinguished biomedical researcher, Dr. Stanley was one of the nation’s top recipients of support from the National Institutes of Health for his research focusing on enhanced defense against emerging infectious diseases. He is an expert in the biological mechanisms that cells employ when responding to infectious agents, such as parasites, bacteria and viruses — a process known as the inflammatory response.

In 2006, Dr. Stanley was appointed vice chancellor for research at Washington University, serving in that position until he was appointed president of Stony Brook in 2009.

Dr. Stanley has served as chair of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which advises the U.S. government on issues related to the communication, dissemination and performance of sensitive biological research. He was a member of the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council at the NIH and a member of the NIH director’s

Blue Ribbon Panel on the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. He also served as an ambassador for the Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research and has received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from Konkuk University in South Korea. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities and has served on the NCAA Board of Directors and NCAA Board of Governors.

A researcher, patent holder and former technology transfer executive, Dr. Stanley supports academic and industry collaborations to leverage both their economic impact and the potentially enormous contributions they can make to society. His extensive experience gives him invaluable perspective on the emerging field of translational research. Dr. Stanley also continues to work as a strong advocate for federal funding of basic research, working through organizations such as the AAU to promote the critical role of university research in innovation and discovery.

President Stanley’s wife, Ellen Li, M.D., Ph.D., is a distinguished biomedical researcher and gastroenterologist. In addition to her roles as a clinician and scientist, Dr. Li has tutored students in chemistry and mentored many students interested in biomedical research. Dr. Stanley and Dr. Li have four children.

View President Stanley's curriculum vitae.

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