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SUNY Potsdam officer-in-charge Graham dies

By Eric Reinhardt (


SUNY Potsdam says officer-in-charge John Graham died unexpectedly on Saturday. (Photo credit: SUNY Potsdam Twitter)

POTSDAM, N.Y. — John Graham, who has been serving as the officer-in-charge at SUNY Potsdam, died unexpectedly on Saturday.

“While Dr. Graham has only been a member of the SUNY Potsdam family for a few months, he made a tremendous impact on our campus as he has guided us through turbulent times. He was so full of life, joy and passion. He greatly believed in the power of education and was fiercely bold in his way of improving access to quality education for all,” June O’Neill, who chairs the SUNY Potsdam College Council, wrote in a Sunday letter to the SUNY Potsdam community.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras in late June announced Graham’s appointment as officer-in-charge. He had been serving as SUNY’s student advocate and senior advisor to Malatras, SUNY said at the time.

Malatras appointed Graham to the officer-in-charge role to “provide a smooth transition for the campus” as school president Kristin Esterberg was preparing to step down in August. Esterberg is now serving as chancellor of the University of Washington Bothell, per its website.

Malatras on Monday issued a statement in reaction to Graham’s death, saying SUNY is “deeply saddened” by his passing.

“Dr. Graham embodied SUNY’s mission of access, opportunity, and academic excellence for students in every leadership position he held with SUNY. From his work at Educational Opportunity Centers, to being SUNY’s first-ever system-wide student advocate, to officer-in-charge at SUNY Potsdam, Dr. Graham believed in the promise and potential within every student. He was a unique force that is not easily replicated or replaceable, and because of that he leaves a giant hole in SUNY. On behalf of the entire SUNY community, our profound and heartfelt condolences to the family of this larger-than-life educator and leader who lived life with empathy, passion, and unwavering commitment to students,” Malatras said.


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