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

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ALBANY, N.Y. (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 of 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 said an aggressive national search for Malatras’ replacement has to be the number one priority. “It’s what we called for two years ago,” he said. “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 to call 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,” said Kowal. “It 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 highlighted additional goals the SUNY system is hoping to accomplish under its next leader. Those include combating rising tuition costs, addressing consistent underfunding at campuses statewide, and bridging the TAP gap.

Next up—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 these 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 said that there are measures in the reform laws that the Association still supports, like eliminating cash bail, as this has highlighted an equity disparity within New York’s legal system.

Here is a list of how you can watch Empire State Weekly in your area of New York every weekend:

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