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SUNY Upstate president to step down in December

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
SUNY Upstate Medical University President Danielle Laraque-Arena

SUNY Upstate Medical University President Danielle Laraque-Arena will step down from her position at the end of the current semester in December, according to a news release from the State University of New York. 

Laraque-Arena took over as Upstate's president in January of 2016. According to SUNY, she will spend the Spring 2019 semester on a study leave, but will return to Upstate for the in June 2019 as a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics. 

"Leading SUNY Upstate Medical University has been my distinct honor with the goal of achieving our mission as One University dedicated to the highest standard in academia and patient care, focused on improving health disparities, and placing the highest value on excellence and inclusion," Laraque-Arena said in a statement. "I am most proud of the revival of the Heart & Vascular program, our progress and expansion of many services—especially our Cancer Center, our deep commitment to quality, our efforts in violence prevention, and the creation of a new academic department of Geriatrics. I have endeavored to lead this university with integrity, professionalism and innovation. I would like to thank all the staff and colleagues who have supported me during my tenure.”

SUNY officials will announce an interim president before Laraque-Arena steps down. 

According to the release, clinical and healthcare operations, will report to Dr. Ricardo Azziz, who is SUNY’s Chief Officer of Academic Health and Hospital Affairs. SUNY also says that Joanie Mahoney, who will step down as Onondaga County Executive in October for a job as chief operating officer at SUNY ESF, will "assist SUNY on an interim basis with managment matters at Upstate Medical University."

Upstate Medical University has been in some turmoil in recent years. Former Upstate President Dr. David Smith pleaded guilty in Syracuse City Court this week to illegally padding his salary by nearly $250,000. Earlier this year, Sergio Garcia, senior vice president and chief of staff at Upstate, resigned in May amid allegations that he fabricated stories about his previous employment.