Donna Woodruff Looking to Move Stony Brook Forward

Donna Woodruff’s life at Stony Brook University changed very quickly on a November afternoon.

Once the university bought out the remaining contract of athletic director Jim Fiore, president Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. asked Woodruff to take on the role of interim director of athletics.

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been involved in a lot of the day-to-day operations of the athletics department,” Woodruff said. “Once this situation came up, where president Stanley asked me to fill this role, the good thing is that I felt prepared to do that in terms of my experiences and my relationships that I have with people on campus, with our conference office and with the coaches and staff members that we have.”

“You don’t have much time to think through everything, but the good thing is that I felt very confident that once the president had placed that confidence in me that I could move us forward and was happy to do that.”

Woodruff took over all 20 programs after entering the year managing both basketball teams, men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse. She said that the most difficult part of transitioning from executive associate director of athletics to interim director of athletics is to make sure she does not short change any of the programs that need her.

“From this chair you have to constantly make sure that you’re looking at the big picture, which takes time,” Woodruff said. “For me the challenge is just to make sure that I’m keeping an eye on everything, but what I would say what’s great is I feel exceedingly confident about the 104 staff members that we have. They pretty quickly demonstrated what I already knew, which is that they’re all keeping things moving along very well.”

How long Woodruff will have to accomplish her goals is unknown, as she said when describing her conversation to fill a term “as long as necessary” until the university decides on their next athletic director.

“At this point, it’s not my decision as far as what the time frame is,” Woodruff said. “But as far as my conversations with what I have been told is that they’re in the process at the moment of trying to figure out their own timeline, as to how and when they’ll move forward, sometime during this semester.”

The floor at Stony Brook Arena still under construction
Managing the $21.1 million renovation of Stony Brook arena is one of the projects Donna Woodruff oversees as Interim Director of Athletics. (note: arena photo from September 2013)

There is a chance her tenure may end at any moment, once Stanley and the university introduce a new athletic director, but Woodruff said that she will look to push the school forward by pursuing short-term goals.

“I want the sports that are playing now, I want to be able to support them so that they have as much success as possible,” Woodruff said noting the importance of the winter and spring sports. “Marketing and getting our arena prepared for the opening in the fall for a successful opening is hugely important and it’s something that we work on every day. From the construction of it, the facilities area that I oversee and stuff that is exceedingly important to us working hard with the marketing and preparing to fill as we get ready for the fall.”

“I also say one of the big focuses is making sure that we stay in touch that I communicate and build relationships with our donors, supporters, whether that’s on campus, internal, external and making sure that those relationships are strong.”

The biggest lesson Woodruff said she learned from her former boss Fiore is to be collaborative and while her previous boss may have left amidst allegations of wrongdoing, she said it has not had an impact on the athletics programs.

“My job is to take us forward,” Woodruff said dismissing the idea that the rumors on her predecessor’s ouster have hurt the school. “I can’t speak to other people’s perception, but I feel very confident in the strength and stability of the athletics department.”

Ryan Restivo covers the America East conference, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]

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