Cuomo 'special aide' lands new job as SUNY chancellor
- The State University of New York recently appointed a new chancellor for the system, who happens to be a former advisor to NY Governor Cuomo.
- The SUNY University Faculty Senate and Faculty Council of Community Colleges made a vote of “no confidence” in the decision.
A longtime advisor to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been appointed to lead more than 64 education institutions as Chancellor of the State University of New York.
Jim Malatras, the newly appointed chancellor of SUNY, worked with Cuomo on multiple occasions, serving as his director of state operations, deputy secretary for policy management, and deputy director of policy on Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign. Malatras was also Cuomo's executive directive of legislative affairs and state policy when he served as attorney general from 2007-2010.
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Most recently, Malatras spoke alongside the governor in one of his coronavirus press briefings on July 13. In the coverage of the press briefing, C-SPAN labeled Malatras as a “Special Aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo.”
Malatras has also served as President of SUNY Empire State College. On August 21st, SUNY announced on its Twitter feed that the SUNY Board of Trustee had officially voted Malatras as the "14th chancellor of The State University of New York."
But this appointment did not come without controversy and critique. The Board of Trustees made the decision to forgo the traditional national search for a new chancellor, saying in a statement that "amid serious fiscal challenges and during an unprecedented worldwide health crisis and deep racial justice and societal issues, today's appointment avoids a costly and lengthy search process. The Board of Trustees clear direction was to appoint a leader who could hit the ground running and help address these issues in a timely way."
In response to this decision, the SUNY University Faculty Senate and Faculty Council of Community Colleges voted “no confidence” in this course of action to appoint Malatras without the normal process, according to Inside Higher Ed. Despite these concerns presented by SUNY faculty members, Malatras officially assumed his role as chancellor on August 31.
In a statement to Campus Reform, New York Federation of College Republicans Chair Bobby Walker said that it should come as no surprise that Cuomo tapped one of his close aides for the position.
"It comes as no surprise to many students and Ne w Yorkers that instead of going through a proper and fair process, Governor Cuomo unilaterally appointed one of his best buddies, Dr. Jim Malatras, to do his bidding in the New York SUNY system. Unfortunately, I am afraid many New Yorkers are becoming numb to the culture of corruption that Cuomo has consistently promoted through his actions. Make no mistake, this governor will always take advantage of the system to solidify his absolute power over all government. Our SUNY system needs a Chancellor that is chosen in a competitive process and one that answers to no one other than the SUNY system," Walker said.
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Walker, who is a senior at the University of Albany studying Political Science, told Campus Reform that “as a SUNY student myself, I know the hardships many students currently face due to what can only be described as a total lack of guidance and leadership during COVID-19. College Republicans additionally face silencing of our free speech, threats on campus, severe disparity in school funding of our chapters and much more. We need a Chancellor that will be an independent voice for students and faculty, not the political will of one corrupt administration.”
Campus Reform reached out to the State University of New York but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @opheliejacobson