Stony Brook University new president weighs in on COVID-19, America's racial divide and the fall semester
At the end of March, Stony Brook University named Dr. Maurie McInnis its sixth university president.
Before arriving in Stony Brook, Dr. McInnis was the executive vice president and provost for the University of Texas at Austin, a cultural historian and an author.
In an interview published on the school's website on Wednesday, Dr. McInnis revealed her thinking regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the racial divide and social unrest in America and her message to students joining Stony Brook in the fall semester.
On COVID-19: "While the pandemic has tremendous ongoing implications for the general economy and how we move forward, I know we will tackle them together as we adapt to changing requirements. And we will continue to develop return to the workplace strategies in line with New York State’s guidelines, keeping the safety of our students, faculty, and staff as our priority as we come back stronger from this crisis."
On American's racial divide: "I have spent my career researching and writing predominantly about the 19th century American South — the institution of slavery in the pre-Civil war period and the memorialization of the Confederacy in the post-Civil War period. What strikes me, as a historian, is how the issues we are discussing today are deeply rooted in America’s enslavement of Africans. Systemic racism, economic inequality and extreme acts of brutality toward Black Americans are all connected to the forced enslavement of Africans four centuries ago when in 1619 the first ship of Africans forced into bondage arrived in Virginia. The racial divide and social unrest we’re seeing today are opening up broader conversations — and making room for action."
On the fall semester: "There is no doubt that the current educational experience is not the experience anyone could have imagined we would all be in, even four months ago. In March, Stony Brook, like every other university in America, made a rapid transition to remote learning. Many things were less than ideal, but faculty, staff, and students stepped up to make it work... I welcome your comments, thoughts, and concerns so we can listen and respond along the way as we work through this together."
Her full interview can be found here.