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Amid some problems, SUNY Upstate Medical University gets new interim president

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
SUNY Upstate Medical University interim President Dr. Mantosh Dewan

SUNY Upstate Medical University has a new interim president. Dr. Mantosh Dewan takes over during a tumultuous time for the institution.

SUNY Upstate is under investigation by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and the state inspector general and comptroller offices for paying some former employees off-campus assignments for little or no work, including a former hospital CEO. Dewan said he is aware of the investigations.

“We're happy to get any recommendations that makes us move towards best practices,” Dewan said. “I’m looking for the positive outcomes of this. If there are things we can improve, we absolutely would be happy to do that. I do know that they are looking at this very carefully at the local as well as at the Albany level, and they will come back with recommendations on should we use them, how should we use them, and what’s the wisest ways to do that."

Dewan is a SUNY distinguished service professor in the Department of Psychiatry and he was interim dean of the College of Medicine. He has worked at Upstate for about 40 years. He said amid some accusations of hundreds of open positions and bad morale on campus, he wants to focus on Upstate’s research plans, like building a vaccine for heroin addiction and more innovative programs in education like simulation labs.

“My relationship with SUNY has been extremely cordial," Dewan said. "They are very supportive of us doing well. We are addressing each of these issues.”

Dewan said he has had a brief conversation with Joanie Mahoney, the former county executive now a special advisor to Upstate, and in the next few weeks, they will meet to discuss how she can help.

Upstate will conduct a search for a permanent president and Dewan will not apply.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.