Leaders who are genuinely dedicated to [changing a culture] understand they cannot limit their choices and actions to reflect just their own culture. We must bring those most affected by these decisions to the table. And when they’re there, we must listen to them. President Stanley is that kind of leader. SUNY Oswego is forever changed because [she] sat at its helm.”
— Christopher Collins-McNeil ’16, founder and principal consultant at Collins-McNeil Group LLC and former Oswego Student Association president
Deborah Stanley is a national leader. Not too many presidents are presidents for 26 years, and she’s respected by her peers. As the chair of the AASCU board, she was leading a board of 17 college presidents and speaking for approximately 400 institutions that serve over 3.5 million students. AASCU institutions (regional comprehensive colleges and universities) are educating the new majority of Americans—the first-generation, low-income and students of color. That’s why her voice is so important across the country.
— Dr. Millie Garcia, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities
I reflect on Oswego fundraising before President Stanley and I think about how it stands today. Her leadership has led us to magnificence—magnificence that centers on the learner. She established from the ground up a meaningful and lasting culture of philanthropy at SUNY Oswego.
— Jennifer Shropshire ’86, principal at Edward F. Swenson & Associates Inc. and Oswego College Foundation board member
I have seen, firsthand, this campus become a living, breathing organism—maturing and growing alongside the needs of the students, faculty and greater society. Her leadership in this has been nothing short of astounding.
— Jeff Knauss ’07, co-founder of Digital Hyve and Profound, and Oswego College Foundation board member
If you’ve worked with President Stanley on a project, initiative or event, you are sure to have heard her ask a very familiar question—how will this affect our students? That learner-centered approach is at the heart of everything SUNY Oswego does.
— Leigh Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and SUNY Oswego professor and chair of the English and creative writing department
It’s amazing the accomplishments she brought to the students, the campus, the SUNY system and all of the impact she’s had. As a result of her work, she has elevated the rankings of the school and achieved so many specific commendations, recognitions and accolades. Her focus on performance and taking things to the next level came across.”
— Bob Moritz ’85, global chair of PwC and Oswego College Foundation board member
I have had the distinct privilege of working closely with President Stanley over many years. She has always shared a clear vision of the incredible value of higher education and the ability of education to change the course of students’ lives. One of the hallmarks of her presidency—and indeed her legacy at Oswego—is creating a culture of philanthropy on this campus.
I thank her for her tireless work and unwavering commitment to this institution and extend my warmest wishes in her retirement.
— Rose Cardamone Crane ’81, chair of the Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors
Dear President Stanley,
I remember attending your inauguration. It was exciting to celebrate the “changing of guards.” What we didn’t know then, was that “the guard,” aka you, would come in—dynamic, powerful, determined, focused, loyal and ready to turn this college upside down and right side up again.
You’re blessed to be the epitome of leadership and excellence. And you have the nerve to also be warm and kind. Lucky us, we experienced all of you up-close and personal. Thank you for leaving a legacy worth carrying on and on and on.
— Aunrée Houston ’00, owner and founder of Aunrée Jac lifestyle brand and Oswego College Foundation board member
The campus is almost unrecognizable from when I went to it. But even more important than the physical plant, is the pride and the academic excellence that Oswego is known for now. It is a preeminent college that can hold its own, not just in this country but all around the world. That is due not just to President Stanley but the team that she built and the inspiration she engenders. I cannot thank her enough for what she has done for my alma mater.
— Al Roker ’76, Today show co-host
President Stanley’s vision and ability to get things done over the past 25+ years has been exceptional. Her leadership has led to increased enrollment, higher academic achievement, more diversity and a transformation of campus with the Marano Campus Center as a crown jewel. The students of New York are the ultimate winners!
What a model of leadership President Stanley has been.
— Jim Triandiflou ’88, chief executive officer of insightsoftware and lead donor for the naming of the Deborah F. Stanley Arena and Convocation Hall
I’m particularly honored to be a part of today’s Commencement ceremony, the last that President Stanley will preside over, as she finishes out her extraordinary career and tenure on this campus—a campus that she leaves in a much better place than she found it. We’re all the beneficiaries of her hard work and dedication.
Thank you, President Stanley, for all that you’ve done for transforming our campus, expanding our curriculum, enriching the lives of our students and providing much needed access to those in search of higher education regardless of their background or their socioeconomic status. Also as part of your legacy, you leave us as a diverse, inclusive and representative institution on sound financial footing with a growing endowment for future generations.
Thank you, President Stanley.
— Mark Baum ’81, chief collaboration and commercial officer for FMI—The Food Industry Association and 2021 SUNY honorary degree recipient
I join the special tribute to President Deborah Stanley, on the occasion of her retirement as president of SUNY Oswego. She has been a tireless and competent leader who placed Oswego on a leading position in the SUNY system, and projected it beyond.
I fondly remember my years at Oswego and appreciate how Deborah brought many of us, alumni, back to campus to enhance its prestige.
Deborah enthusiastically organized and participated in the launching of two of my books, when I was ambassador of Chile to the United Nations. I was thankful of such gestures on her part.
Oswego was an important part of my life. Deborah contributed significantly to the development of that academic and human experience for students, faculty and administrative personnel. Best wishes on the new challenges she might face.
– Heraldo Muñoz ’72, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile (2014-2018) and former Presidential candidate 2021
Deborah Stanley has been a singular force in my life—at times a mentor, friend, confidant and advocate both for me, personally, and the work of restoring Central New York to its global economic relevance. Her voice has a power that is both rare and immediately recognizable. That she wields it so diplomatically is a testament to her humility and grace. Decades from now, Deborah’s imprint on our community will be rightfully acknowledged as indelible.
– Robert Simpson, (pictured on right) president of the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CEO)
Deborah Stanley…”An Unequalled Visionary,” “A Consummate Leader,” “An Ardent Educator,” “A Supportive Mentor,” and “A Trusted Friend!”
I was so fortunate to have worked as deputy to the president during the early years of Deborah’s presidency. The vision she had for the college then has been brilliantly executed and reflectivity expanded into accomplishments that will stand the test of time.
Countless students have been impacted by her devotion to excellence and her perseverance to make SUNY Oswego “second to none.”
On a personal note, I will always be grateful for the opportunities she afforded me during my years at the college. She guided me, challenged me and opened doors that let me become an integral part of my alma mater … a school that I love!
Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement, Deborah. You have been a vital and vibrant player in SUNY Oswego’s history and your legacy will be reflected far into the college’s future!
– Carolyn Rush ’68, former deputy to the president at SUNY Oswego
My relationship with President Stanley has always been rooted in optimism. I first met her when I ran for Student Association President. One of the greatest lessons she taught me is that I don’t ever need to hold any official position in order to make change.
One year I did my first campus-wide leadership presentation for the ALANA conference. I was nervous not knowing who would show up to the presentation. I was just hoping at least a few students would show up. Not only did my peers show up, to my surprise, President Stanley and her leadership team came to my presentation. It was such a meaningful experience, as I know there were a lot of events and places she could have been, but she made an intention to show up for me.
As a 20-year-old college student, that level of support was tremendous—to be seen and appreciated that way. Fast forward to my senior year, I was one of several students who was asked to join the president on the cover of the OSWEGO Alumni Magazine to culminate our Inspiring Horizons campaign for the college. I remember being seated next to the president at the bottom right corner and after the shoot she said, “You probably never thought you would be doing this your freshman year,” with a smile. It was such an honor to be on that cover and share in that experience. It’s by far one of my most treasured highlights of my time at Oswego, while a student and after.
When I officially graduated before leaving campus, I met with President Stanley. I was anxious and unsure of the path ahead, but remained optimistic about my prospects. President Stanley encouraged my pursuits, reminding me that I made it past the hard part and to not be fearful. She reminded me to embrace the challenges and move through them as life will always run its course. I’ve followed that advice ever since. I wish her the absolute best in her next journey forward.
– Cameron Jones ’09, manager of development and integrated strategy/race and culture at ABC News
President Deborah F. Stanley’s first institutional strategic plan was titled “Better Than We Dared Believe,” and she made believers out of us! Navigating fierce winds of change for 26 years, President Stanley was our leader who threw her arms open wide to embrace public higher education and its place in society. She launched the force of Oswego’s students, faculty, staff and alumni to propel immeasurable transformational achievements growing our reputation and stature.
I was honored and proud to behold President Stanley lead SUNY Oswego to immeasurable heights in my roles with the college, most recently as vice president for alumni relations and development from 2006 to 2016. Twenty-six years later, Deborah F. Stanley was better than we dared believe and her exemplary presidential legacy is a testament to a bold, courageous woman who believed in the power of higher education.
– Kerry Casey Dorsey ’81, former vice president for development and alumni relations and former College Council member
Dear President Stanley,
Congratulations on your retirement! My time at Oswego would not have been the same without you. I will remember how you were always available to your students and had such a presence on campus. Thank you for everything you have done for me and the Oswego community.
Wishing you all the best!
– Darlene Le ’16, coordinator of Registrar Services for Harvard Business School’s Doctoral Programs
I have always been proud of my Oswego education, never moreso than when I’ve been in the presence of Deborah Stanley. With her intelligence, her eloquence, her dignity and warmth, President Stanley has embodied for me all the greatest gifts the college has brought to my life. The gift of mentorship, for instance, and friendship, and, perhaps most profoundly, the gift of respect—respect for all of us who pursue an education in the hope of a meaningful life.
I am so grateful to her for her dedication, her wit, her humanity. She has made our little college by the lake, and thus our country, our world, a better place.
– Alice McDermott ’75, award-winning novelist and Academy Professor and Richard A. Macksey Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University
Edward Austin Sheldon may have founded Oswego in 1861, but Deborah F. Stanley put it on the map in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A large part of our present alma mater is due directly to her vision and leadership. Thousands of students have been influenced and educated while she has been a member of the faculty and president of Oswego; each, in some large or small way, has been the subject of her concern. Her unrecognized influence will indirectly ripple through our country for many years.
Jane and I join a host of people, both within the Oswego community and many others, who wish the Stanleys a long and happy retirement.
– Davis Parker ’47, retired Webster (N.Y.) school administrator, Sheldon Legacy Society member, scholarship donor and long-time Reunion Engagement and Philanthropy Committee volunteer
Deborah, please accept my warmest congratulations and my thanksgivings for your most outstanding service. As the 10th president, you have taken the college onward to an almost unimaginable series of significant growth and professional development initiatives. The Oswego campus today is wonderfully renewed, and the new and enhanced programs and degree offerings are especially indicative of what you have accomplished.
– Dr. C. Thomas Gooding, former vice president for academic affairs and interim provost of SUNY Oswego
I will never forget sitting in a restaurant in Studio City, California (just outside of Warner Bros. Studios) with President Stanley and Mary Canale in early 2009 discussing the importance of ensuring economically vulnerable people have more access to healthcare, education, etc. It was then that President Stanley told me about her concept for the Possibility Scholars Program. In her typical forward-thinking manner, she created a program that would, as she said, remove financial barriers for talented students looking to enter the sciences and provide meaningful experiences that would allow them to succeed after graduation.
Kudos to Dr. Stanley for her many innovations and particularly for her attention to ensuring diversity and inclusivity at Oswego. I wish her well in what I know will be an equally productive future.
– Lois Frankel ’73, bestselling author, executive coach and an internationally recognized expert in leadership development for women
I will always remember President Stanley for her cool-handed, steady leadership through unprecedented times. And she did do so with smarts, warmth and grace all while wearing a Lakers hockey sweater. An impressive feat! Congrats to our forever president on a career well done.
– Steve Levy ’87, Monday Night Football play-by-play commentator, National Hockey League play-by-play commentator and host, and ESPN SportsCenter anchor
It has been such a pleasure to learn from, be inspired by and be given tremendous opportunities through your leadership at our institution. You have forever impacted the lives of the many individuals who live, work and attend our beloved university. Thank you for leaving a legacy of making Oswego an institution of excellence and caring deeply for our students’ success. Forever…#InDebWeStan.
– Justin Dobrow ’17, manager of partner operations at Peacock, NBCUniversal
D.C. knows a CINC (commander-in-chief) when we see one.
And we have seen a bunch since 1995. Bill, George W., Barack, Donald and Joe. They come and go every four years or so.
Our Oswego CINC has reigned 26 years. Unelected, true but could be unanimously swept into office for another 26-year term by her loyalist and world-wide fan club.
Here in D.C. she knows us and our families … Jack, Mark, Hal, Claire, Clair, Bridget, Rick, Alice and over 400 more from Richmond, to Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Capital Hill and the D.C. ‘burbs.
Some have fame such as Alice and her “Charming Billy.” Mark with his lording over the Food Industry. Others bring their fame down from The City … Al R., Ken A., Peter M., Bob G., Bob M., Steve D., Dianora D. and more to mingle with their CINC, too.
Deborah, you have graced us many times with your presence at D.C.’s Tower Club, City Club, Army & Navy Club, Baltimore Waterfront and in our homes.
And you have brought us to Capitol Hill to meet Chuck S. and the Chancellor. But it was you, Deborah, who commanded the room at the Rayburn Building as other SUNY presidents came by seeking your counsel and enjoying your charisma.
You have stood tall between presidential candidates (albeit cardboard cutouts) every four years at our D.C. signature alumni event, the Oswego Presidential Panel Discussion, ably moderated by our emeritus Bruce. We listened to your campus updates, which left us all swelling with pride and good cheer for what you and the “Party” has achieved over, not just four, but 26 years at Oswego.
Now it’s our turn to wish you, our CINC, good cheer.
As the CINC’s Navy might say, Deborah and Michael, we wish you, “Fair winds and following seas.” The Army wishes you to just, “keep rolling along” (into retirement). The Air Force suggests, you always “aim higher,” now glide gracefully into life’s next phase. The Marines applaud you for always being “first to fight” for the budget, social issues, academic excellence and conquering COVID. “Ooooh Raaaah.” The Space Force recognizes how you have indeed “commanded the (academic) universe.”
And all of your D.C. troops simply offer a collective, “Thank you, mission accomplished and well done,” as you and Michael depart your White House on Shady Shore.
As our beloved “CINC” you have commanded us well … now go forth and enjoy retirement.
– Colonel Jack James ’62, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
I have been working at SUNY Oswego for almost 15 years, and in that time I have seen many positive changes that were made possible by President Stanley’s leadership.
First, there are the many beautiful new campus buildings and facilities that create an inviting and stimulating environment. Next is the focus on diversity—both among the faculty and student body. This enriches the classroom and campus community in so many ways. And, finally, the growth in our endowment helps ensure that future Lakers will be able to enjoy the kinds of experiences we’re fostering today.
I feel tremendous gratitude for the support that President Stanley has provided to me, my department and the entire campus community, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have arrived at SUNY Oswego during her tenure. I want to offer my sincerest thanks and best wishes.
– Dr. James Early, associate professor of computer science
Successfully leading a university requires a servant leader. Many claim this mantel, but few live up to it. But, over the past 25 years, I’ve got to observe the real deal in Deborah Stanley. A servant leader prioritizes the growth of her community. It is always about the institution. It is never about herself. Over two decades under her leadership, Oswego has developed a clear sense of who we are, the priorities of our core instructional mission and our power to transform the lives of the sons and daughters of New York.
Under Deborah’s leadership we strengthened our financial position so that we could fund what we dream; we revitalized our physical plan to put student needs at the forefront of every brick and every classroom; innovated our curriculum and leveraged our technology to enhance instruction and operations; and we instituted policies and procedures and planning that would support operations for years into the future. She has demanded continuous review of operations and planning to minimize barriers to student success and completion.
I ask you to raise your glasses in gratitude for the way that Deborah both served and led us, and warmest wishes for the next chapter—to Deborah Stanley!
– Dr. Elizabeth Schmitt, professor of Economics and chair of Faculty Assembly, edited from her Dec. 2 toast at the Faculty and Professional Staff Reception
President Stanley has been the beacon of light that has transformed Oswego to a highly competitive and welcoming community. Under her leadership we’ve cultivated generations of leaders who have gone on to do extraordinary things but more importantly always feel welcome to come home to Oswego. One of the greatest honors I received was presiding over a Torchlight ceremony and serving as a commencement speaker. I’m grateful for the “roots and wings“ that I received at Oswego and I’m proud to give back as a member of the alumni board.
Enjoy your rest and retirement President Stanley for a job well done!
– Dr. Yvonne M. Spicer ’84 M’85, former mayor of Framingham, Mass.
On behalf of tens of thousands of Oswego alumni family members, including myself of course, I am privileged to have this space and opportunity to share sincere gratitude to President Stanley as she concludes her impressive tenure at our beloved alma mater.
President Stanley has consistently supported Development and Alumni Engagement efforts over the years to help our Lakers remain connected to the institution and to each other—seeing alumni as important and valuable stakeholders. She, along with her husband, Mr. Michael J. Stanley, have traveled across the country for alumni events, greeted alumni back on campus during Reunion Weekends and literally
opened their home so generations of Lakers could experience the historic Shady Shore. They have both established a warm and welcoming culture for all members of the SUNY Oswego family, and have made our alma mater a place we are proud to be part of. Because of all of this, and more, it was an honor to witness the Oswego Alumni Association’s Board of Directors resolve to name both President and Mr. Stanley honorary SUNY Oswego alumni on Oct. 1—a title reserved for the few who truly bleed green and gold, though their paper diplomas may suggest otherwise.
Having started my own SUNY Oswego journey back in 2005, as a first year student … I have never personally known an Oswego without President Stanley’s leadership. She is woven into the identity of this institution—and while her absence will certainly be felt in the months and
years ahead, we look forward to building upon the strong system she’s established as we forge ahead—and perhaps even seeing her at a future alumni event in the beautiful campus space that forevermore bears her name.
– Laura Pavlus Kelly ’09, executive director of the Oswego Alumni Association
I have had the honor to introduce President Stanley at numerous events over the past four years, as well as get to know her and her husband, Michael, on a more personal level. It was a huge honor to introduce her at the Torchlight Ceremony in 2018 and make her and Micheal honorary Oswego alumni this past fall, but my most recent favorite memory was when I was able to moderate the 2021 College Update during our virtual reunion. It was as if all the times I had the pleasure to introduce her, worked together with her at the Oswego Alumni Association Board of Directors meetings, and attended the same events in Oswego, NYC and N.J., culminated to what seemed more like a conversation with a friend and colleague during that presentation. President Stanley has always made herself accessible and approachable to students and alumni, which very much radiated throughout the hour we spent together on that virtual event.
I will always remember President Stanley smiling, engaged, energetic, passionate, approachable and, most of all, kind. That has impacted me the most since she became president when I was a student until now, and those traits will always resonate with me personally, and throughout our students, alumni and our campus.
–Dana Segall Murphy ’99, Oswego Alumni Association President
On the occasion of President Stanley’s retirement, I think that many of us will remember and honor her incredible legacy. She was a transformative leader at SUNY Oswego who over the years addressed many challenges and provided leadership for major advances in both the mission and scope of the college: greatly enhanced the college’s academic reputation; significantly increased both student and faculty diversity; established many new degree programs; built a substantial endowment and scholarship program; kept the college in a firm financial position; dramatically upgraded campus facilities; and many other enhancements.
In my professional experience at SUNY Oswego, I had a wonderful career as a history professor and academic administrator for nearly 50 years, from 1966 until I retired in 2015. During my last 20 years at the college, I worked more closely with President Stanley, as History Department chair in the 1990s, then as chair of Faculty Assembly and co-chair of the Campus Concept Committee, then as acting provost, and finally as dean of Graduate Studies. Those were very productive years with the development of our new engineering degree programs, many new graduate programs in the health sciences, new facilities and so many other initiatives.
I extend gratitude and best wishes to President Stanley as she moves to this next phase of her life.
–David King, Ph.D., Professor and Graduate Dean Emeritus
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