President Deborah F. Stanley Announces Retirement
In a letter to the campus community, Deborah F. Stanley, J.D., announced May 24 that she will retire as president of SUNY Oswego effective December 31, 2021. The 10th president of the State University of New York at Oswego, Stanley has served in that role for over twenty-five years. Prior to her appointment as president in 1997 (after serving as interim president from 1995-1997), she taught and earned tenure in the School of Business and served in administration as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
Stanley shared in her letter, “I have been incredibly fortunate in so many ways in my life, and certainly in the people, places and circumstances of my professional work for SUNY Oswego … It is beyond a blessing to have been allowed to contribute leadership to, and collaborate broadly on, the inspirations and initiatives that have lifted our work and produced amazing outcomes for our college, our students and our communities.”
Her tenure as president has been dynamic, driven by bold and inclusive leadership and a broad vision resulting in increased academic excellence, campus renewal, successful fundraising, and the creation of a learner-centered environment. She established the Presidential Scholarship Program for outstanding academic achievers that awards over $6 million each year, the Possibility Scholarship Program for disadvantaged students in the sciences, and the pioneering Oswego Guarantee that promises necessary classes will be available for students to complete a degree within four consecutive years and, during those years, there will be no increase in the cost for room and meal plans. She enhanced the Oswego Guarantee with the Graduation ROI in 2013 – a $300 Return on Investment (ROI) awarded to all first-time students who complete their baccalaureate degree in four years or less. President Stanley is currently completing the Path Forward campaign to double the amount of need based privately funded scholarships.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “President Deborah Stanley has led SUNY Oswego throughout a myriad of issues in her more than 25 years as their leader. Deborah not only has led SUNY Oswego with the absolute highest level of integrity and dedication to the college, she has been essential in providing advice and insight to me and many others within the SUNY family. President Stanley has seen much, and with her students always in the forefront of every decision to be made, she has created an excellent educational environment for them to safely learn and grow. She is a leader that produces results, and her story for SUNY Oswego has been one of growth in programs for our students, increases in faculty, and financial stability. For that we owe her a debt of gratitude. My congratulations to Deborah and her family.”
Stanley initiated successful national accreditation for the School of Education, national and international accreditation for the School of Business, and global accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET for Oswego’s electrical and computer engineering and software engineering programs. She led the creation of the School of Communication, Media, and the Arts, and established the college’s Syracuse campus, located in the Clinton Square area of downtown Syracuse. Under her leadership, new programs such as electrical and computer engineering, human-computer interaction, human development, biomedical and health informatics, cinema and screen studies and the online MBA programs, including the design of an innovative MBA model in partnership with SRC, Inc., were established. Additionally, Stanley has overseen substantial growth of full-time faculty at SUNY Oswego over the past decade.
Stanley expressed heartfelt thanks to all those she worked alongside over the years. “Thank you does not seem enough to say for being able to do what I love alongside thoughtful, purposeful, passionate people who understand the value of what we do and honor it every day,” wrote Stanley. “My gratitude to you, the faculty, staff, students and administrators I have known and worked with over the years, on campus and at SUNY System, is immense. This institution’s strength to endure and thrive rests, as it always has, on your insight and resolve to prepare for and protect its future.”
She added, “Thinking of you gives me great confidence and optimism in SUNY Oswego’s future and its ability to face the inevitable challenges ahead.”
Her ambitious campus-wide renewal plan, now in its third decade, encompasses just under $1 billion in renovations and construction, including $118 million for the environmentally designated LEED Gold Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation; the revitalization and modernization of the college’s arts building, Tyler Hall; The Village – a new townhouse residential complex on campus; and the renovated Wilber Hall, marking the centralization of all School of Education departments under one, contiguous roof. She spearheaded a massive upgrade of campus technology, internet and laboratory equipment and guided the college to its most culturally diverse student body in SUNY Oswego’s history—31% of the total undergraduate and graduate population including a record-setting 38% of the first-year class self-identified as culturally diverse at the start of the fall 2020 semester.
Early on, Stanley created the Vice Presidential Division of Alumni and Development and since then has led four fund raising campaigns that together have realized approximately $100 million. Under her leadership, with support from the Oswego College Foundation Investment Committee, SUNY Oswego’s overall endowment has grown from almost nothing to more than $54 million in 2021, outperforming the average rates of return on the NACUBO index 17 out of the past 18 years.
Aside from her leadership on campus, President Stanley has been an invited speaker and panelist at regional, national and international venues on topics such as sexual assault on campus, experiential learning practices and leadership. She serves as chair of the American Academic Leadership Institute, co-chair of Academic Search, Inc., state-wide co-chair of the State University of New York’s Student Mental Health Task Force, and is a former chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities board of directors. She served on the American Council on Education’s Board of Directors, and is a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. President Stanley served a three-year term as board chair of CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity, a major association in regional economic development, and is co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, one of ten councils across the state appointed by the Governor.
Deborah F. Stanley will retire from SUNY Oswego after 44 years of service to the campus community. She will be greatly missed but her immeasurable contributions to the campus and to past, present and future students, faculty, staff and alumni will assuredly live on. She closed her letter to the campus community by writing, “Our interest in this wonderful place is unending and we will always be connected.”
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