SUNY Faculty Senate, Assemblymember Wallace divided on calls for removal of Chancellor Jim Malatras

Posted at 8:32 PM, Dec 07, 2021

NEW YORK (WKBW) — SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has been publicly linked to the sexual harassment investigation of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Text messages released by the New York State Attorney General's Office show Malatras mocked one of the women who later accused the former governor of sexual harassment.

Late last week Malatras issued an apology. The SUNY Board of Trustees issued the following statement in response to his apology:

Dr. Jim Malatras has been an outstanding leader of SUNY through one of the most trying times in our history and has the support of the SUNY Board of Trustees. He’s acknowledged he made a mistake, taken full responsibility for it, and apologized appropriately. He is fully focused on the critical work of keeping our facilities open and our students and faculty safe through the ongoing pandemic.
- SUNY Board of Trustees

In a letter sent to the SUNY Board of Trustees, United University Professions President Frank Kowal said, "In light of the recent news we welcome the Chancellor’s apology. It was necessary and appropriate."

The United University Professions is the union representing SUNY faculty and staff. On Monday members of the union broke with union leadership and called for Malatras to resign or be removed. The Member Action Coalition, the faction of union members within the UUP, said Malatras is "unfit to lead the SUNY system."

On Tuesday, the SUNY University Faculty Senate issued a statement on Malatras saying in part "while many on the UFS Executive Committee want us to call for the Chancellor’s immediate resignation or removal, others want to first put the Board and the Chancellor on notice."

SUNY UFS then issued the following demands:

We call on the Board of Trustees to

  • in the immediate term, authorize an independent investigation of the Chancellor’s leadership at the Rockefeller Institute, Empire State College, and System Administration into workplace culture; hiring procedures and qualifications of those hired; transparency; collaboration with faculty and student organizations; and effectiveness of advocacy.
  • in the short term, work collaboratively with SUNY Faculty Council of Community Colleges, Student Assembly, and UFS to clarify and improve principles and policies for future Chancellor

We call on the Chancellor to

  • in the immediate term, lead an effort to foster diverse, equitable, inclusive, respectful, and healthy workplaces and leadership cultures in System Administration and throughout SUNY.
  • in the short term, advocate effectively for New York State to become a national leader in how it budgets support for public higher education.

We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and are prepared to take further action as warranted.

Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D - 143rd District) also issued a statement Tuesday, calling for Malatras to resign.

SUNY Chancellor James Malatras must resign. His knowledge of and involvement in the misconduct that occurred in the Cuomo Administration renders him unqualified to lead our state’s university system. He had the opportunity to be a profile in courage and speak out – instead he chose to remain silent and be complicit. His conduct demonstrates a lack of integrity and an unwillingness to speak out in the face of impropriety.

The more than 90,000 faculty members and 400,000 students in SUNY’s 64 campuses deserve a chancellor whose character is beyond reproach. They deserve a leader who will speak out for what is right, even if it is not in his personal interest to do so. If he does not resign, I call upon the SUNY Board of Trustees to remove him and conduct a national search to find his replacement.
- Assemblymember Wallace

Malatras was appointed SUNY Chancellor by former governor Cuomo earlier this year.