SUNY chancellor steps down after several calls for his resignation

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SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras (Pat Bradley/WAMC)

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras will resign effective Jan. 14, acknowledging in a letter to the SUNY Board of Trustees that “recent events surrounding me over the past week have become a distraction.”

Calls for Malatras to resign began earlier this week after Attorney General Tish James released documents that showed he was helping to plan retaliation against a woman who accused former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

James in August issued a report that found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo resigned a few weeks after the report was released.

Recently released transcripts show Malatras suggested that the governor’s office release the private emails of one accuser, Lindsey Boylan, to try to discredit and embarrass her.

On Wednesday, the Albany Times Union released audio of Malatras shouting and swearing at a state university employee in a 2017 incident. That led to more calls for him to step down.

United University Professions President Fred Kowal said he’s greatly relieved that Malatras made the decision to leave.

The union had not called on the chancellor to step down. Kowal said they were concerned about a break in continuity just as budget negotiations were to begin, and wanted to make sure the funding for the campuses was not affected.

But Kowal said he had become increasingly uneasy over the accounts of Malatras’ bad behavior toward others, and he says some of his members were angry as well.

“As the last few days transpired, what I saw as a continuous drumbeat of stories coming out, and they were becoming more and more disturbing,” Kowal said. “I welcome the end of this drama.”

Kowal said he hopes that the SUNY Board will appoint an interim chancellor who can hit the ground running. But the union urged SUNY to conduct a nationwide search to attract a high-quality candidate for the chancellor’s job.