When President Stan Liberty arrived on campus in 2005 as Kettering's sixth president, he said he was looking forward to "facilitating the development of strong collaborative partnerships between Kettering and both private and public sector entities in Flint and the surrounding region."
Born and raised in Gray, Maine, Dr. Stanley R. Liberty graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland. He earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Liberty joins Kettering from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where he has been provost and vice president for academic affairs since January of 1998. Before joining Bradley, he served as dean of engineering for 13 years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and as the university's interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. He was the Nebraska representative on the Science and Technology Council of the States, a working group of the National Governor's Association, and he advised Governor's Orr and Nelson on science and technology matters.
He also served as department chair of electrical engineering at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and as a faculty member at Texas Tech University, where he was founding director of Texas Tech's center for energy research, an associate dean of graduate studies and a member of the Texas Energy Advisory Council. Prior to his academic career, he was employed as a design engineer by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Dr. Liberty's research has been supported by grants from several federal agencies including NSF, NASA and the Office of Naval Research.
When President Stan Liberty arrived on campus in 2005 as Kettering’s sixth president, he said he was looking forward to “facilitating the development of strong collaborative partnerships between Kettering and both private and public sector entities in Flint and the surrounding region.”
Just ask Professor Reg Bell. “Integrity, a keen sensitivity to the concerns of others and vision are just a few of Stan Liberty’s many qualities of character,” Bell said. “Despite having the shortest tenure of Kettering’s six presidents, Stan’s achievements are significant and will endure.”
Or ask Bell’s favorite student, Gary Cowger ’70, chair of the Kettering Board of Trustees: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and myself, I'd like to thank Stan and Angie Liberty for their dedicated service to our University during six of the toughest years in its history. The last four years have seen an economic crisis unparalleled in this country since the great depression. Despite these difficulties, Stan moved Kettering forward and deepened our involvement with the community, city and state. We wish them good luck and hope they will return to the campus to visit us often,” Cowger added.
Under President Liberty’s leadership, Kettering stretched both its academic prowess and economic footprint. Campus accomplishments from 2005-2011 include:
- Launch of new academic degree programs, minors and areas of concentration, including Pre-med, Pre-law, Bioinformatics, Engineering Physics, Chemical Engineering, the Business degrees were restructured and MBA program launched and expanded.
- Received a Best in Class National Award for entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Completed construction and dedication of the Innovation Center at Kettering University.
- Completed construction of the Dane and Mary Louise Miller Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering Laboratories, expanding the BioChemistry and Premed programs.
- Provided leadership to help turn Flint into a College Town.
- Embraced Flint’s Cultural Center, allowing students ready access to music and art extracurricular activities and lessons for the first time in University history.
- Broadened Kettering’s international reach into China with new exchange programs, for both undergraduate students and professionals.
- Volunteerism in the community skyrockets.
- Doubled Kettering’s engagement with FIRST to two large competitions a year.
- Resized the University during Michigan’s economic downturn.
- Hosted special visitors on campus, including Senator Barack Obama and the King of Sweden.
College Town -- It started with a billboard
Kettering’s new institutional mission and strategic plan allowed the University to become an active partner in regional economic development for the first time. Dr. Liberty hosted the presidents of Baker College, Mott Community College and the U-Michigan-Flint in February 2006 to unveil the "College Town" slogan: “Preparing a workforce for the knowledge economy.” It was the first of many “College Town” initiatives co-hosted by the four educational partners.
“Stan brought a level of expertise and enthusiasm to the table that always enhanced deliberations and promoted positive solutions well beyond Kettering,” said Dr. Julianne T. Princinsky, president of Baker College of Flint. “Stan and Angie’s participation has consistently benefited the entire region. It has been a personal and professional pleasure to know them as friends and colleagues; they will be missed!”
Other examples of Kettering’s economic redevelopment efforts include:
- Established the Region 6 office of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MSBTDC) on campus in 2007, which in 2010 was helping 76 clients invest $21.6 million in the region, create 257 jobs and 27 new businesses.
- Created business incubation facilities and a business start-up and growth accelerator (Tech Works) focused on advanced technology commercialization.
- Kettering's sponsored research activities are growing and a first faculty "spin-out" company has been created based on Kettering owned intellectual property.
“President Liberty definitely made a tangible contribution to the strength of this region,” said Tim Herman, Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO. “He has done an outstanding job fostering research and integrating Kettering into the Flint community. Both Kettering University and the region have benefited greatly from his focus on academic excellence and his visionary leadership,” Herman said.
Promoting innovation and more
Dr. Joel Berry, professor and head of Mechanical Engineering said Dr. Liberty helped infuse a climate of innovative thought for students and faculty. “He understood the need to move Kettering's mindset from the traditional corporate model to one where risk taking and innovation in thought and deed was the norm,” Dr. Berry said. “With a vision and framework for Kettering's future, he exhibited a vital pioneering spirit that can only spread and grow to secure our future.”
As a key institutional player in the state-designated Flint Center of Energy Excellence, Kettering continues to conduct research on enhancement of bio-methane production in collaboration with the City of Flint and Swedish Biogas International.
With grant support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, Kettering advanced marketing and branding efforts. Media coverage soared to historical highs – more than 25,000 media hits in 2010. “Additionally, we introduced m.whhx1688.com, a mobile application,” Dr. Liberty said. “The number of alumni events have been increased so the Kettering story can be told to and by GMI/Kettering alumni.”
Kettering's diversity initiatives - specifically its pre-college programs – received strong external financial support, and in 2009 Kettering's AIM program was named “Pre-college Program of the Year” by The National Association of Multicultural Engineering Professional Advocates. Kettering's LITE program, a pre-college program for young women, received the 2010 WEPAN Women in Engineering Initiative Award for advancing women in engineering (WEPAN stands for Women in Engineering ProActive Network).
Faculty Senate Moderator Dr. Laura Sullivan said Dr. Liberty demonstrated that he delivered on his promises and served as a role model in serving society without expectation or the need for accolades. “It has been an honor to work with him, and I am grateful for the support that he has given to me and to the students of Engineers Without Borders,” she continued. “I am excited about the future for Kettering, but I also want Dr. Liberty to know how valuable he has been to its past.”
The Arts at Kettering
Dr. Liberty ended Kettering’s limited options for students seeking the fine and performing arts while on campus. “We established The Arts at Kettering in collaboration with the Flint Institutes of Music/Flint Youth Theater and The Flint Institute of Arts,” Dr. Liberty explained. “The program is open to all Kettering students at no cost and is entirely co-curricular. Students can take private lessons on instruments or voice and they perform in ensembles. They also participate in a wide variety of workshops ranging from photography to theater and dance.”
John B. Henry III, director of the Flint Institute of Arts, said the College Town initiative helped overcome the reluctance of students to venture beyond the boundaries of their own campuses. “With Stan’s support and vision, the goal of students participating in the rich cultural offerings in this community is being realized. We wish Stan and Angie all good things in the future,” he said.
Strengthened community ties
Kettering became better connected to the Flint community through his involvement on various boards including the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. Additionally, his wife, Angie, served on the board of the Flint Cultural Center Corp., Friends of Sloan-Longway and Kettering’s Friends of the Library and Archives (FOLA).
“It was always clear that he understood his leadership role at Kettering to include a strong community commitment, that it was not enough for Kettering to succeed if its hometown was floundering,” said Kathi Horton, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “He wanted to play a role in generating a more economically vital community, one that was poised to succeed in the future and not just cling to past glories.”