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Jim Malatras at Stony Brook University last year. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Jim Malatras, chancellor of the State University of New York, submitted his resignation last week following political pressure for him to step down after text messages showed him belittling one of the women who accused former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment. 

Malatras faced bipartisan backlash over the last few weeks after new evidence was released by state Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) investigation surrounding the allegations against Cuomo. 

Part of the evidence included text messages from May 2019 between Malatras and other Cuomo officials disparaging Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official who accused the former governor 18 months after the SUNY chancellor sent the text, The New York Times reported.

Boylan and Malatras then argued over Twitter.

Since the documents were released, the chancellor decided to resign, stating in a letter to the SUNY board of trustees that the controversies were taking him away from his work.

“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,” he said. “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.”

As chancellor, Malatras was tasked with overseeing the State University of New York comprehensive system of higher education. 

Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory. 

In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. 

Two of those schools locally are Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College. 

“I am aware that the chancellor has tendered his resignation and respect that decision,” said SBU President Maurie McInnis. “I look forward to working with the next leader of SUNY as we continue our important research and teaching mission.”

A representative from SCCC added that nothing will change at the college amid the scandal, and it “will continue to work with our partners at SUNY to ensure that high quality higher education remains accessible and affordable to students.”

Malatras’ resignation goes into effect on Jan. 14.

“The past two years have been among the most trying in SUNY’s history — and Jim’s leadership and collaboration with our faculty and staff have allowed our institution to continue to thrive and serve our nearly 400,000 students at 64 campuses across our state safely and in person,” said a statement from the SUNY board of trustees. “He has been a champion for our students, for access, for equity, and for deeper public investment in this great institution. The entire board expresses our gratitude for his dedication and leadership.”