Dear Friends, Colleagues and Students,
It is with great sadness that I write to share the news of the passing of Carlos Vidal, Interim Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Health Technology and Management. Carlos was 72 years old. Carlos recently lost his wife to cancer and is survived by his son and two daughters.
A two-time Stony Brook alumnus, Carlos was deeply committed to his alma mater. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare in 1976 and his masters of Social Work from Stony Brook University, and his Doctor of Social Work and PhD degrees from the Graduate School of Social Services at Fordham University, specializing in child welfare research. He first joined the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare faculty in 1978, and rose through the academic ranks of that School, eventually entering the dean’s office as Associate Dean for External Affairs and Development. Carlos then moved to the School of Health Technology, as Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Development, and then as Associate Dean of Operations. He also held a faculty appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies and was an Affiliate Associate Professor in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center at Stony Brook University.
I first learned of Carlos and his impact soon after my arrival at Stony Brook in 2010. A year earlier, he had launched the Health Careers Academic Readiness and Excellence (HCARE) Summer Program, to provide educational programs for high school students in preparation for college and healthcare careers. Over the past nine years, HCARE has provided educational programs for 3,000 Suffolk County high school students, a very high percentage of whom matriculate into college.
When Craig Lehman stepped down as Dean about a year and a half ago, Carlos graciously stepped forward as Interim Dean of the School of Health Technology and Management, at a very difficult time in the history of the School, because of the fiscal challenges that needed and still need to be addressed.
Throughout his career, Carlos was steadfastly committed to the importance of community engagement and involvement, leading to his founding of the Center of Community Engagement and Leadership Development five years ago, where he served as Associate Dean. He initiated groundbreaking community-based work, such as the multi-location academic readiness program and a distracted-driving awareness curriculum, which remains active, and he was instrumental in starting the Stony Brook University food pantry, which was one of the first in the country to provide food items for food-insecure students, staff and faculty on a University campus.
Carlos was also dedicated to reducing healthcare disparities on Long Island, serving as Director of the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), a federally funded program aimed at creating a more diverse and competitive applicant pool of underrepresented students in grades 7-12, as well as adults wishing to pursue careers in the allied health professions. This ultimately led to the creation of the HCARE program, which maintained the momentum initiated under HCOP in the Amityville, Brentwood, William Floyd and Wyandanch school districts. The program served as a role model and pipeline for the Long Island community to Stony Brook University’s health science schools: Dental Medicine, Health Technology and Management, Medicine, Nursing and Social Welfare.
Carlos was passionate about conducting community and community-based participatory research in the areas of child welfare; health and mental health issues among Hispanic children; violence in schools, sports and communities; cultural competency education and training; anger and conflict management; and the Hispanic family. He served as the first Chairperson of the Suffolk County Hispanic Advisory Board and as a cultural advisor on projects related to Latinos and Native Americans.
I share the sentiments of President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, who said, “Losing Carlos is a truly significant loss to Stony Brook University. He made extraordinary contributions through his work in the community, through his research that looked into today’s most significant social and cultural issues; and in his work with our students and alumni-turned-faculty, all of which will leave a lasting and indelible impact on the SBU campus community, the community at large, and the region we serve. My thoughts are with his family; he will be missed.”
Having worked closely with Carlos this past year and a half, I very much appreciated his direct approach to problem solving. Carlos would gather data from multiple sources, formulate an approach going forward, share solutions with me and my staff, and implement the solutions as fairly as was possible. He thoroughly embraced the missions of the School, and very much wanted what was best for all its students, alumni, faculty and the myriad of patients who are and will be impacted by the School and its graduates. But I am not in any way alone in my admiration for Carlos and the impact he has left.
Eric Lamberg, Interim Associate Dean in the School, commented, “Dr. Vidal was generous in both his time and his mentoring. He kept an open door to all that needed his advice and never looked to take credit. He was a mentor in all senses of the word. Dr. Vidal was very engaged in community affairs and was always looking to find a way to offer programs that would provide a meaningful impact to all involved.”
Lisa Johnson, Chair of Respiratory Care, clearly admired much about Carlos and reflected the sentiments of many of her colleagues. “Dr. Vidal was a mentor, confidant and gentleman. He was an advocate for communities and he was a beacon of light. He stood strong and tall through many adversities, but he always seems to have a smile and good sense of humor. Carlos would often say, ‘Relationships are primary; everything else is derivative.’”
Lynda Perdomo-Ayala, administrative head for the Department of Pharmacological Sciences, a recipient of Chancellor’s Awards for both Administrative Services and for Diversity and Affirmative Action, who considers Carlos her mentor, added, “The Hispanic community has taken a tremendous loss of someone who always cared enough to try to make a difference. He truly was a great man in our eyes, who did all he could to make Stony Brook a shining example of what an Institution and School should be. Over my 35 years at Stony Brook, we worked on a multitude of projects, many of which I am sure his CV does not define, but these projects made tremendous impact. As Hispanic Heritage month is celebrating 30 years in 2019, we will make sure to honor his memory.”
And John Riley, Vice President for Health Sciences Administration and Finance, said, “Dean Vidal stepped in at a difficult time financially, both for the School and the University. In the short time that he led the School, he managed to implement new policies, make hard decisions, enhance the leadership team, and began to bring the faculty and staff closer together, which allowed the School to turn the corner and get it ready for the next set of leaders.”
Carlos Vidal was a truly generous, giving individual who was always looking to bring people together to move us forward, and whose many colleagues, including those mentioned here, have expressed to me that they are humbled to have worked alongside him. Clearly, Carlos left us before his time, although his impact will be felt for classes of School of Health Technology and Management students and alumni for years to come.
Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP
Senior Vice President, Health Sciences
Dean, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University