Empire State Weekly: Next steps after SUNY leadership shake-up

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(NEWS10) – This week on Empire State Weekly, navigating the future of the SUNY system now that Jim Malatras is set to step down from his role as Chancellor. The search for SUNY’s next leader will soon begin, and officials across the education field are pushing for a broader canvass in the pursuit for prospective candidates, with the hopes of putting a representative of today’s diverse network of SUNY students at the helm.

We hear from Fred Kowal, the President of United University Professions, the union representing many people working in the SUNY system, who says an aggressive national search for Malatras’ replacement has to be the number one priority. “It’s what we called for to years ago,” says Kowal. “If we’re doing a nationwide search let’s do it right. Let us address the long-standing diversity problem in SUNY and get a Chancellor that represents the growing share of SUNY’s student body, it is absolutely urgent.”

According to Kowal, UUP was the solo voice that called for a full nationwide search following the resignation of Malatras’ predecessor Christina Johnson, but that call went unanswered. “Unfortunately, the decision was made by the Board of Trustees to not undertake a search, and we ended up with Jim Malatras as Chancellor,” says Kowal. “I think it’s points to, again, the necessity to bring in all elements of the higher education community and SUNY to advocate for what will be the most important Chancellor in SUNY’s history, in my opinion.” Kowal goes on to highlight additional goals the SUNY system is hoping to accomplish under its next leader, such as combating rising tuition costs, to addressing consistent underfunding at campuses statewide, as well as bridging the TAP gap.

We also discuss the growing calls for change among New York State’s bail reform laws. Police Chiefs and District Attorneys from across the state have said that while these reform laws were well-intentioned, they had unintended consequences on public safety.

Patrick Phelan, the Executive Director for the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, joins us to address the amendments to the bail reform laws the Association is proposing. Some of which include giving judges more discretion when deciding who gets jail time before trial, limiting the practice of continually giving out appearance tickets, changing the raise the age law, and limiting the legal discovery process between attorneys and prosecutors, so that victims can’t be harassed by suspects.

Phelan says there are measures in the reform laws the Association continues to support, such as eliminating cash bail, as this has highlighted an equity disparity within New York’s legal system.

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