SUNY Chancellor James Malatras announced his resignation Thursday after calls for his ouster grew due to his recently-revealed attacks against former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first sexual harassment accuser Lindsay Boylan and his history of fostering a toxic work environment.
“I have had no higher honor in my lifetime in public service than serving as the 14th Chancellor of the State University of New York,” wrote Malatras in a Dec. 9 letter to SUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson Merryl Tisch. “But 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. 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. Therefore, please accept my resignation effective Jan. 14, 2022 as SUNY’s Chancellor.”
Malatras was appointed at the top of the university system in August 2020 and was a close ally of the disgraced ex-governor, remaining as one of the few holdovers from Cuomo’s inner circle.
Hochul voiced her support for Malatras as recently as Monday, siding with the university system’s 18-member Board of Trustees — 15 of whom are appointees of the governor — who backed the SUNY chief.
“In speaking through my administration to a number of trustees, continuity at this time is important so I understand their rationale for wanting to not ask him to take steps,” said Hochul during a Dec. 6 press briefing. “However, we have to make sure that there is a culture where that behavior is not acceptable.”
The New York Post reported that Hochul called Tisch Wednesday night pushing for Malatras to step down, but the governor only confirmed that she contacted the chair of the to discuss SUNY’s “future.”
“It was focused on the future of the SUNY system and how we can ensure that we have the focus that we need, the undistracted attention on making this the world-class university system that it should be,” Hochul told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon.
“With respect to not publicly calling out for certain things, I think you will understand that the position of the governor is not to stand out and make proclamations and statements,” she added. “I’m more inclined to work behind the scenes and focus on results.”
A document dump of transcripts and evidence released late last month from Attorney General Letitia James’s bombshell sexual harassment probe revealed that Malatras sent disparaging texts to Cuomo aides about Boylan during a workplace dispute in 2019, writing: “Malatras to Boylan: Go f–k yourself.”
He also urged the administration to release some of Boylan’s “cray” emails during the exchanges, which happened more than a year before she come forward with her accusations against Cuomo in February.
Prior to his time as SUNY chief, he was known for having a short temper and 2017 audio obtained by the Albany Times Union shows Malatras, then the president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, shouting at a female subordinate, calling her “lady” and “a misery.”
“You have a f—ing bad attitude on everything, lady,” he can be heard saying. “You’re goddamn impossible all the time… You drive people crazy.”
On Wednesday, more than 31 Democratic Assembly members signed a letter calling for his resignation or firing, including influential Brooklyn Democratic Party Boss Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo, the New York Post reported.