Stenger introduced as 7th Binghamton University president
By Katie Ellis
Saying it had a "very nice ring to it," SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher on Nov. 28 officially introduced Harvey G. Stenger to the campus as the seventh president of Binghamton University at a news conference attended by more than 100 people in the Anderson Center. Stenger will begin his duties Jan. 1.
"A lot of people write about leadership and assign certain characteristics to leadership," Zimpher said, "and I would add that in addition to the immense academic credentials, that Dr. Stenger has the skills that make a leader great. I believe he is a visionary and an inclusive visionary. It's in his DNA.
"He will be a convener, a communicator and will count on you to put forth your most cherished aspirations for this institution," she said. "He is a person of action and together you will carve a vision for the future of this great institution. He will find the balance between the liberal arts and sciences, and the economic opportunities presented by the professional colleges of this campus. He will hold himself accountable for getting this job done," she said.
Earlier in the day, Stenger and his wife, Cathy Frankenbach, stopped in the Susquehanna Room and the University Bookstore to meet students, faculty and staff – and to purchase some T-shirts and a hat. Stenger then met separately with campus administrators as well as faculty and union leadership. The news conference, and a reception following it, was attended by members of the Binghamton University Council, Alumni Association and Foundation boards, faculty leadership, Presidential Search Committee, community, administrators and legislators.
Zimpher took time at the news conference to publicly thank C. Peter Magrath, who will retire from the presidency at the end of December. "From the moment the opportunity presented itself to elect an interim president of Binghamton University, I thought of my good friend and colleague Peter Magrath," she said. This institution has been well taken care of, and "it was President Magrath's idea to stand here today to pass the gavel. It is important to make this transition and have the wealth of knowledge you've brought."
"The way we looked at it is this is an institution with a great history, reputation and past, and a great future and a lot of potential," said H. Carl McCall, chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees. "To unlock that potential and fulfill the mission of providing a quality education, this institution needed a special kind of leadership. Thanks to all who worked together and identified just the right person. This was easy when this name came to us and we had an opportunity to meet with Harvey Stenger.
"He is a scholar, a person who believes in research and the value of the liberal arts and the humanities. He's just the kind of person we were looking for and we believe he's just the kind of person you've been looking for."
After thanking the people responsible for "getting me here," Stenger spoke about why he wanted to come to Binghamton University: "Because Binghamton 'gets' it.
"What do I mean by that?" he asked. "Binghamton is about the success of its students ... it is pervasive everywhere. That also means that we have great faculty, and great staff and a great community to support them. A great supporting cast around them."
Stenger spoke of inheriting Binghamton's academic culture and rigorous programs, research and scholarship that investigate and answer important and difficult questions, collaborative and interdisciplinary international student experiences, and the level of community engagement that enhances the local community, region and state. "But where are we going? What's the next level? We don't know yet.
"We have a plan, but let's take a few months to develop a new plan. The month of January will be dedicated to meeting with people ... February and March will be spent designing what has to be in that plan and near the end of the semester we will build that plan and start implementation in summer."
We will have the ability to strengthen our financial position thanks to NYSUNY 2020, Stenger said, then we will do the following: "We will have strategic development of new degree programs and investment in current programs of high quality and demand; expansion of diversity among student, faculty and staff populations; increased access for students from economically disadvantaged families; enhanced research, scholarship and graduate programs through strategic investments in hires in areas aligned with Binghamton's strengths in its traditional fields while simultaneously identifying those in emerging fields, enhanced reputation for students experiences in student life, advising, counseling, career guidance and post-graduate assistance; significantly expand our development program to accelerate the growth of annual and endowed funds; and continue to ensure that Binghamton University remains a catalyst for action in the region and New York state by driving economic development."
Stenger spoke of his goals and the values that will define Binghamton University – that we will offer every Binghamton University student a rewarding experience that positively influences his or her life, that every faculty member will have the opportunity to achieve personal and professional goals, that every staff member will enjoy a long and fulfilling career, that every alumnus will be proud to have Binghamton as an alma mater, and that our constituencies and partners will value their relationship with the University.
"I believe these values have helped to define Binghamton University as a great university and as a university that 'gets it'," he said. "They have defined me as a student, a professor, a dean and a provost, and they will continue to define me in my new role as I work to further enrich an institution which I will be very, very proud to lead."