ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The leader of New York’s state university system, Chancellor James Malatras, said Thursday he will resign amid harsh criticism for his actions while a top aide to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The recent events surrounding me over the past week have become a distraction over the important work that needs to be accomplished as SUNY emerges from COVID-19,” Malatras said in a letter to the chair of the State University of New York Board of Trustees.
His resignation is effective Jan. 14.
Malatras came under fire after state Attorney General Letitia James made public transcripts and evidence from a probe of sexual harassment allegations that forced Cuomo from office. Cuomo has denied harassing anyone.
A text exchange from 2019 involving Malatras and other Cuomo allies showed them privately mocking Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official who would later become the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo.
At the time, Boylan had yet to go public with her sexual harassment allegations against the governor. But after leaving the administration, she tweeted that working in politics had been “a toxic and demoralizing experience.”
“Let’s release some of her cray emails,” Malatras texted, using slang for crazy.
Boylan had departed the administration after some of her subordinates complained about her own workplace behavior, saying they felt bullied.
Also, the Times Union of Albany reported this week that when Malatras led the SUNY Rockefeller Institute, he called a female employee “a misery” and “goddamn impossible.”
The state university board had said last week they supported Malatras. But state lawmakers and others had called for his resignation.
You can read his resignation letter below:
The SUNY Board of Trustees stood in support of Malatras after these messages came to light and amid the calls for his resignation. In light of his resignation, the trustees released this statement:
“We want to thank Dr. Jim Malatras for his extraordinary service to the entire SUNY system. The past two years have been among the most trying in SUNY’s history—and Jim’s leadership and collaboration with our faculty and staff have allowed our institution to continue to thrive and serve our nearly 400,000 students at 64 campuses across our state safely and in person. He has been a champion for our students, for access, for equity, and for deeper public investment in this great institution. The entire board expresses our gratitude for his dedication and leadership.”
The SUNY Student Assembly released a separate statement late Thursday morning.
“The voices of SUNY students have been heard. We are proud to stand alongside our faculty, community leaders, legislators, and others who support us as women, mothers, and tuition paying students. It is time for a new beginning at SUNY with enhanced investment in the programs and services critical to our education. We look forward to working with the Board of Trustees to provide student input within a national search for the position of Chancellor. A search that allows for all qualified candidates to be considered. Together we will move forward and continue to advocate for the investment needed to strengthen academic excellence and student success at SUNY and across public higher education.”