The head of the state Assembly’s oversight committee on higher education demanded Monday that embattled SUNY Chancellor James Malatras resign or be fired for trashing one of disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers.
“For the sake of the future of SUNY, I believe it is most appropriate for the Chancellor to resign or be removed by the SUNY Board of Trustees,” said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), the longtime chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, in an extraordinary statement.
Glick pointed out that she initially objected to the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees hiring Malatras — a former top aide and confidante to Cuomo — without the customary national search during the summer of 2020.
All of SUNY’s board members are Cuomo appointees, and they tapped Malatras to the $450,000-a-year post to lead one of the nation’s premier public-university systems, at the then-governor’s behest.
In calling for Malatras’s departure, Glick referenced texts unearthed by state Attorney General Letitia James’ devastating document dump last week as part of her office’s sexual-harassment probe into Cuomo.
The texts showed Malatras sliming Cuomo’s first harassment accuser, Lindsey Boylan, in May of 2019 in a dispute over workplace issues. Boylan aired her specific harassment claims against Cuomo 18 months later.
The newly released documents also proved damning to Andrew Cuomo’s brother Chris Cuomo, who was fired at CNN last week for allegedly breaching journalist ethics while helping his brother combat the claims against him — and having a sexual-conduct accusation leveled against himself, as well.
“Malatras to Boylan: Go f–k yourself,” Malatras wrote in an internal text to Cuomo aides in 2019, amid workplace issues involving her.
The SUNY chief added in another text, “Let’s release some of her cray emails!”
Malatras also forwarded Cuomo aides a picture of a nuclear explosion with the word “kaboom” while discussing Boylan.
A year later, the Cuomo camp released portions of Boylan’s personnel file to try to undercut her harassment claims.
“It is disturbing to learn that in the midst of managing the COVID crisis, Dr. Malatras is reported to have engaged in conduct meant to undermine serious allegations against former Governor Cuomo,” Glick said.
“I do not believe that recent revelations of the Chancellor’s involvement in defaming those who accused the former Governor of sexual harassment can in any way assure students and families that the commitment to a harassment-free environment will be honored, especially in instances where a prominent member of the university faces credible charges.”
Glick said Malatras is a “skilled operational manager” who helped guide the 64-campus SUNY system through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, “but we are moving beyond needing an intense response to COVID.
“It is important that the country’s largest university system search for a true academic leader who can set SUNY on a course to continue to attract a diverse and talented student body to its superb and varied colleges,” she said.
“It is all the more critical that students and their families have confidence that their college experience will be free of sexual harassment and bias of any kind.”
Malatras issued an apology late Friday over the texts, saying, “My words were inappropriate, disrespectful and wrong” — while the SUNY board of trustees put out a statement backing him.
But the mea culpa hasn’t worked to calm the storm swirling around him, with Glick just the latest elected official to call for his ouster along with SUNY student-government leaders and professors.
Critics pointed out that Malatras has figured prominently in other Andrew Cuomo controversies — including the SUNY chief’s role in both editing both the Cuomo administration’s health-department report that low-balled COVID-19 linked nursing-home deaths and Cuomo’s $5.1 million pandemic “leadership” memoir. Malatras has denied downplaying nursing-home deaths.
Malatras and SUNY had no immediate comment on Glick’s statement.
But the SUNY chief still clearly has support where it counts — among at least some of his board’s trustees.
Trustee Stan Litow, a retired IBM executive and former deputy chancellor for the New York City school system, told The Post that context is important when considering Malatras’s tweets.
Litow noted that Malatras made inappropriate remarks about Boylan before she accused Andrew Cuomo of harassment.
“Malatras apologized profusely. It’s important to explain the context of what he apologized for,” Litow said.
Litwo said he “disagreed” with critics who want to dump Malatras and insisted there’s “strong support” to retain him within the SUNY community.
Three-term Democrat Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor in in August — under the threat of impeachment — after the investigative report by AG James’ office found he mistreated up to 11 women and harassed several staffers — including a state trooper assigned to his security detail. He denied any wrongdoing.