The State University of New York Board of Trustees today announced the appointment of Jim Malatras as the 14th chancellor of SUNY, the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States. Stony Brook University is part of the SUNY system and is widely regarded as a SUNY flagship.
Malatras, the first SUNY graduate to become chancellor, has emphasized to the Board of Trustees his determination to immediately confront the serious issues spurred by the COVID crisis, while continuing and strengthening the SUNY commitment to affordability and increased access for the state’s most underrepresented populations. He will take up the task of restoring enrollment levels, while building on SUNY’s world-class and nationally ranked reputation.
“Higher education is facing a critical moment in our history amplified by a pandemic that has nearly paralyzed our nation, and now, more than ever, we need a visionary leader and one with deep financial and operational expertise to face our challenges head on, and that is exactly what we have with Dr. Malatras,” said SUNY Chairman Dr. Merryl H. Tisch and SUNY Vice Chairman Cesar Perales. “With his proven experience, deep connection with our campuses as a SUNY graduate, and a strong relationship with Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, Dr. Malatras is ready and well positioned to tackle a wide range of issues impacting our campuses now, while implementing a vision of affordability, accessibility for all, and expanding SUNY’s prominence as a world-renowned institution. We are fortunate to have been able to select him amongst the strong talent and leadership across SUNY and have no doubt he will deliver results.”
Amid serious fiscal challenges and during an unprecedented worldwide health crisis and deep racial justice and societal issues, today’s appointment avoids a costly and lengthy search process. The Board of Trustees clear direction was to appoint a leader who could hit the ground running and help address these issues in a timely way.
“On behalf of the SUNY executive leadership team, we look forward to working with Jim Malatras as our campuses begin to reopen for the fall semester,” said SUNY Chief Operating Officer Robert Megna, who has served as Officer in Charge. “I have known Jim for a long time, and I know he can work with SUNY staff to face the fiscal challenges ahead for SUNY. Jim is a master at operations who knows how to deliver results when resources are limited and students, faculty and administrators need us to be an effective resource.”
“It is an incredible honor to lead the largest comprehensive system of public higher education as the next chancellor of the State University of New York,” Malatras said. “I am a proud product of the SUNY system, having earned my undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees from SUNY institutions. I believe in the power of public education to unlock the doors of opportunity and will work tirelessly to make it accessible to all who seek it. Job one is our students who drive and inspire everything we do. I look forward to working with the brightest and most dedicated educators in the country to meet the challenges of this moment, and beyond, for our students as a collaborative, imaginative, and unified SUNY system.”
Today’s appointment marks the return of Malatras to SUNY System Administration. As vice chancellor and chief of staff, he was chief operating officer and a senior advisor to Chancellor Emeritus Nancy L. Zimpher during her tenure as SUNY rebounded from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. He helped oversee a cost-reduction strategy to return $100 million in administrative costs toward academic programming and student services.
Malatras joins system administration from SUNY Empire State College where as president, he headed SUNY’s lead campus in innovative individualized learning with an emphasis on distance learning while expanding access to students across the state through pioneering partnerships with SUNY community colleges, the private sector, and labor. Malatras also directed the college’s efforts to be more inclusive, which led to the establishment of The Center for Autism Inclusivity, The Shirley Chisholm Center for Equity Studies, and the creation of the Empire Opportunity Program, the first-of-its-kind statewide program offering financial aid and specialized academic support for students from historically underserved backgrounds.
While serving as SUNY Empire State College President, Malatras has also led New York State’s new Reimagine Education Advisory Council to assist K-12 schools and colleges adopt technological and other innovations to reopen safely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.