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SUNY official now in charge at SUNY Potsdam

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 6:01 PM EST
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - SUNY’s chief operating officer is now in charge of the SUNY Potsdam campus after the sudden death of interim leader Dr. John Graham.

A profound sadness has swept over SUNY Potsdam’s campus. That’s how one college official describes the tone after it was announced officer-in-charge Doctor John Graham died unexpectedly over the weekend.

“The impact that he had on the students, faculty, the staff, the community at large is so much greater than the amount of time we had with him,” said June O’Neill, SUNY Potsdam College Council chair.

Dr. Graham had been running the school since September after former president Dr. Kristin Esterberg left for another university job.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras praises the man he picked to temporarily lead Potsdam.

“He was our first ever student advocate. And he really believed in our students, he really believed in this system, and he was a really deeply caring person,” he said.

Right now, SUNY COO Beth Berlin is in charge at SUNY Potsdam, but Malatras will name a new interim leader.

And he says as he makes his choice, he’ll listen to the SUNY Potsdam community - one he knows after spending a year on campus as a student.

“Every SUNY campus is a little different. It has its own unique culture and energy, and you want to make sure you get the right person for those jobs, even temporarily,” said Malatras.

There’s still the need for a permanent president at Potsdam, too. O’Neill acknowledges Dr. Graham’s death makes the search an even higher priority.

“It has moved up the timeline for the search. But, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. And again, we’re not going to rush the search. It’s more important to get it done right,” she said.

O’Neill says the process of naming a new president has a lot of moving parts and a SUNY Potsdam search committee will only narrow down the candidates. The final decision will come at the state level.

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