Editor’s note: This story has been updated on Dec. 10 to reflect the newest information possible. Our original reporting on the SUNY Student Assembly and Faculty Council of Community Colleges’ statement can be found below the update.
In a letter to the Chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees sent out on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 9, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras officially announced his resignation.
Malatras alluded to the controversy surrounding his comments to other Cuomo staffers aboutLindsey Boylan, former aide to former New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the reason for his resignation.
“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 wrote. “I believe deeply in an individual’s ability to evolve, change and grow, but I also believe deeply in SUNY and would never want to be an impediment to its success.”
Malatras wrote that his resignation would be effective Jan. 14, 2022.
In response to the letter, the SUNY Student Assembly released a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“The voices of SUNY students have been heard,” the statement read. “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.”
Dec. 4, 2021 — SUNY SA, FCCC call for SUNY Chancellor’s resignation — Malatras won’t step down
Multiple groups are calling for SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras’ resignation after the New York state Attorney General Letitia James’ office released new information and transcripts from the investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In response to the calls for his resignation, Malatras and the SUNY Board of Trustees released a statement on Friday evening stating that Malatras would not be stepping down.
The material released by James’ office reveals that in a private email to other Cuomo aides, Malatras wrote, “Malatras to Boylan: Go fuck yourself” in a text message regarding Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide. In February 2021, Boylan was the first of multiple women to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Before sending the message, Malatras tweeted: “I saw someone [Twitter bombing] about family life on the 2nd Floor to get some attention for unrelated political purposes. That’s their prerogative. Is working in the chamber tough? You bet. Long hours? Yes. It should be. But my son was often a welcomed part of it so I could serve.”
This tweet was released after Boylan’s tweet claiming that the Cuomo administration had created a toxic workplace. According to the Times Union, in response to the tweet, Boylan tweeted that Malatras was tone-deaf.
In an email to another staffer, Malatras wrote “Let’s release some of her cray emails!” In another, separate instance, Malatras wrote that he wanted to “drive her nuts” by tweeting. Both instances were in reference to Boylan.
In a joint statement released on Friday, the SUNY Student Assembly, with the Faculty Council of Community Colleges (FCCC), called for Malatras’ resignation.
“As the person charged with overseeing the largest public higher education institution in the country, the chancellor should be held to the highest standards of integrity,” the Student Assembly statement read. “In response to claims of a toxic work environment the chancellor exacerbated and contributed to it by making other vulgar comments. It is imperative, now more than ever, that we support women and mothers (demographics that make up a significant portion of our system-wide student body) when they have concerns, and the chancellor has demonstrated an inability to do so.”
In an email sent out on Tuesday, the New York Federation of College Republicans called for Malatras’ resignation. This is the group’s second call for Malatras’ resignation, after calling for him to step down in a March 2021 statement claiming Malatras had been involved in covering up data on the COVID-19 pandemic and response in New York state.
“In light of this transcript, the [New York Federation of College Republicans] demands the resignation of Chancellor Malatras,” the email read. “Both statements made by the chancellor were vicious targeted attacks designed to harm a victim of a heinous crime. The malicious words written by Malatras run counterproductive to the mission of higher education institutes. Should a SUNY student face the plight of Boylan, would Chancellor Malatras react with the same malevolence? His current actions prove that the chancellor is incapable of putting human welfare above politics and his loyalty to Andrew Cuomo. Ensuring that victims of sexual harassment are heard and taken seriously is a critical issue on college campuses today. Chancellor Malatras has demonstrated an inability, or rather a purposeful refusal, to take crime of a sexual nature seriously.”
In a statement released on Thursday, the College Democrats of New York also called for Malatras’ resignation.
“We find the chancellor unfit to lead our great SUNY system, which must uphold itself as an inclusive space for all students and faculty,” the statement read. “For these reasons and more, the SUNY chancellor must be held accountable for his actions. College Democrats of New York call on the SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras to resign from his position.”
In response to the allegations, the SUNY Board of Trustees sent out a news release on Friday night which confirmed the chancellor would not be stepping down.
“As we head into another surge in [COVID-19] cases, [Malatras] and the [SUNY] Board of Trustees are focused on keeping our campuses open, securing additional investment for SUNY to meet New York state’s workforce demand and expanding innovation to continue to drive economic development across New York state,” the statement read. “We have challenging days ahead and believe Jim Malatras, as chancellor of the State University of New York, remains the right leader to help us meet that challenge.”
Alongside the news release, Malatras published a personal statement confirming he would not be stepping down.
“I have spent the past 20 years of my life working in public service,” Malatras wrote. “I am extremely proud of the work all of us in government do and I could not be prouder of the work we have done together over these past two incredibly difficult years here at SUNY. Leadership in public service is a privilege and with it comes immense responsibility for upholding the values of professionalism, decency and respect. I take that responsibility very seriously and in recent days it has been clear I have fallen short.”
Malatras also apologized to Boylan in his statement and said he wished to create a more welcoming environment in the SUNY system.
“I not only owe Ms. Boylan an apology for my conduct, I owe an apology to the broader SUNY community for failing to live up to the standard that leadership of this institution entails and demands,” Malatras wrote. “My greatest hope is to foster an inclusive community at SUNY where every faculty and staff member and student can feel safe and heard. I hope that my record here has made that commitment clear.”
This is a developing story. Pipe Dream will update this story as more information is revealed.