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Post-Kaloyeros SUNY Poly Gets New Interim President

The SUNY Board of Trustees has recently appointed Dr. Bahgat Sammakia to become the SUNY Poly Interim President, replacing the embattled Dr. Alain Kaloyeros.  School officials are mostly mum on the appointment.

Kaloyeros, heralded as the creator of "Tech Valley" in the Capital Region, resigned from his post last month amid federal corruption charges, including wire fraud, a result of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's investigation of the Buffalo Billion upstate economic development initiative. Kaloyeros also faces state corruption charges, and on September 22nd was suspended without pay.

The corruption investigation that snared Kaloyeros involves nine other state officials and upstate developers, including a former top aide to Governor Cuomo.

The charismatic president's departure prompted the SUNY Board of Trustees to fill the sudden void at SUNY Polytechnic Institute: they zeroed in on Dr. Bahgat Sammakia, a SUNY Distinguished Professor and an internationally recognized scholar in electronic systems integration and packaging. Sammakia has served as the Vice President for Research at the SUNY Binghamton since 2010. In 2008, as director of Binghamton's Integrated Electronics Engineering Center, he took to YouTube to champion the college, which although dated could give insight into what kind of impact he may make at SUNY Poly: "I think of things like excellence in everything that we do. I think in terms of attracting the world's best faculty and students and retaining them. I think in terms of reaching out, and partnering with our community and working with them closely, and I think in terms of outstanding research growth. None of these things can happen if everyone continues to do what they're doing, what they're comfortable doing and not really reach out, and take risks, and work in new areas. So I think the excitement that you need for success requires you to do hard things, new things and things that take a risk."

SUNY Central and SUNY Poly officials declined to comment for this story. Sammakia told the Times Union last week that his top priority will be to refocus the school on its academic mission while working to ensure that the school's research and economic development mission remains sustainable in the long term.

His SUNY Poly appointment is effective December 1st. Sammakia told the newspaper he expects to keep the job for about a year and then return to Binghamton.

Meantime, Kaloyeros, who was earning north of a million dollars a year, has indicated that he would like to return to his tenured faculty position at the University at Albany. Officials have taken that request under consideration.  A federal judge also granted Kaloyeros permission to travel to Pennsylvania "for employment purposes" ahead of  trial.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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