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SUNY appoints retiring SUNY Oswego president as interim chancellor

The SUNY Board of Trustees Monday appointed SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley as interim chancellor. Stanley takes over for Jim Malatras, who resigned as chancellor this month after a report from the state attorney general revealed Malatras had worked to discredit a staffer in former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Stanley was set to retire from SUNY Oswego at the end of December. She has led the campus since 1995, and has been part of the campus community for 45 years.

"I do not take lightly our responsibility to make sure we are providing a safe and welcoming environment that allows our students to grow academically and provide the foundation to pursue and reach their goals and dreams," Stanley said in a statement. "During this leadership transition, their success will be my highest priority, and I look forward to leading this great university system to new heights."

The Board of Trustees announced it will begin a global search for a new chancellor in January.

Malatras resigned after being appointed as chancellor in 2020. At the time, the board did not undertake a search, opting instead to appoint Malatras, a longtime top aide to Cuomo.

Malatras was facing mounting pressure to exit, after state Attorney General Letitia James found he tried to discredit a colleague in Cuomo’s office, later identified as Lindsay Boylan. Boylan later accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and fostering a toxic workplace in a scandal that led to Cuomo’s resignation last August.

Malatras’ actions toward Boylan, which included calling her an expletive in an email message and suggesting that her private emails be released to publicly humiliate her, led to calls for him to step down. An audio recording released to the Albany Times Union intensified the pressure for Malatras to exit. It was made in 2017 by a former employee of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, which Malatras was leading at the time. In it, Malatras could be heard cursing at and berating the woman. Malatras resigned days later.

Fred Kowal, president of United University Professions (UUP), the union that represents SUNY faculty members, said in a statement that he supports Stanley's appointment.

"We are hopeful that she will effectively lead SUNY through this transition period," Kowal said. "Dr. Stanley is an immensely accomplished leader, who has served the students, faculty and staff of SUNY Oswego for nearly 25 years."

But Kowal renewed his call for SUNY to focus on diverse candidates in its search for a new chancellor.

"There must also be a serious attempt to bring in candidates from underrepresented communities of color. That’s a necessity," Kowal said. "SUNY’s student body is becoming browner. We must have leadership that reflects that."

WRVO's Ellen Abbott and Karen DeWitt contributed to this report.