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Malatras, Close Cuomo Ally, Tapped To Lead SUNY

Jim Malatras
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Jim Malatras

A close ally of Governor Andrew Cuomo has been tapped to head the 64-campus State University of New York system after a national search was scrapped. 

SUNY Empire State President Jim Malatras, a former top aide to the governor who has returned to the Democrat’s inner circle throughout the coronavirus pandemic, was picked Friday by the SUNY Board of Trustees to replace Chancellor Kristina Johnson, who left this summer for the top job at Ohio State.

Malatras, who becomes the 14th chancellor, is the first SUNY graduate to lead the system.

"Like other institutions, COVID-19 in many ways turned our system upside down with significant health and financial issues which we must confront to keep our students, faculty and staff safe while providing high-quality educational opportunity," Malatras said. "But COVID-19 didn't create the historic challenges confronting public higher education. The landscape of public higher education has been changing before our eyes for some time. We have enrollment and financial issues because of aggressive competition from outside institutions as well as adapting to meeting changing student expectations in this ever-changing world." 

Malatras will be paid an annual salary of $450,000 plus a $60,000 housing allowance. He will also retain his appointment as a professor at SUNY Empire. Malatras holds three degrees from the University at Albany.

The United University Professions union said it was disappointed that SUNY didn't undertake a national search, but added it looks forward to working with Malatras. 

UAlbany spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist tells WAMC, “SUNY couldn’t have a better champion, a better policy mind than Jim Malatras’s to guide it over the coming years, which are going to be challenging for the system.”


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