Chancellor Malatras Launches First-Ever Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship Program to Develop and Champion Graduate-Education Policy across SUNY System

May 12, 2021

Graduate Student Advocate Fellow to Identify Key Barriers and Issues Affecting SUNY Graduate Student Success and Recommend Changes to Chancellor’s Leadership Team

Interested SUNY Graduates May Apply Here


Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today launched SUNY’s first-ever Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship program to advocate for graduate-education policy across SUNY System.

The Graduate Advocate Fellow will identify key barriers and issues affecting SUNY graduate student success and recommend changes to Chancellor’s Leadership Team. The chosen Fellow will also serve as a centralized advocate for graduate students, focusing on areas such as future development and enhancements to graduate education and advocating for issues of importance to current and future students.

Additional job responsibilities will include:

  • Canvasing graduate students across sectors, disciplines, and programs to identify major concerns
  • Conducting a time-to-degree and completion study and analysis of SUNY graduate programs
  • Carrying out a literature study of curricular design of graduate educational programming currently offered in the U.S.
  • Designing and implementing SUNY-wide training webinars for graduate student professional development
  • Analyzing enrollment trends in graduate programs and funding of research-/thesis-driven doctoral programs
  • Studying the international student experience and providing an analysis in comparison to domestic students

The Graduate Student Advocate Fellow will report directly to SUNY’s Provost and serve a full-time, two-year appointment. A graduate degree awarded within the last 24 months by one of SUNY’s institutions is required by the start of the Fellowship. Those interested mayapply here.

"SUNY students are the lifeblood of our system—they are dedicated to making sure that SUNY makes strides forward on issues such as social justice, increased student research opportunities, food insecurity, mental health resources, and ultimately, ensuring that every SUNY student receives the help they need in order to thrive and succeed in completing their college degrees," said Chancellor Malatras. "The Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship is our way of letting our graduate students know that we understand their challenges and obstacles may be different compared to our undergraduate student population—we want to create an avenue where those concerns can be heard. In doing so, we will be better informed when making system-wide decisions and creating policies. Our graduate students work tirelessly in labs, research settings, and through teaching assistant positions, so we must support them however possible to ensure the focus of their energy goes toward their academic pursuits. We are here to listen to our students, and the Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship program will provide the opportunities to foster more collaboration with our graduate student population."

SUNY Provost-in-Charge F. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik said, "SUNY graduate students play such an integral role in what makes us a leader in innovation and research, and we want to make sure that their needs are heard and addressed. Through the Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship program, our student leaders will have the opportunity to represent their peers and draw attention to their immediate concerns, such as mental health issues, social mobility, diversity and equity, and more. We look forward to adding the selected Fellow to our leadership team—the work they produce and findings they share with us will be invaluable, helping us to be even more student-centric in every decision we make."

The creation of the Graduate Student Advocate Fellowship program is an extension of Chancellor Malatras’ commitment to employing a student-centric approach to policy-making and leadership. Last month, Chancellor Malatras launched SUNY’s first-ever Student Advocate Fellowship program to recruit promising recent SUNY graduates to join SUNY’s executive leadership team to develop and champion student-driven policy initiatives at SUNY.

Back in October 2020, he launched the SUNY Student Voices Action Committee, a group of 27 students representing every SUNY sector—from university centers to comprehensive, technical, and community colleges. The students were assembled by Student Advocate Dr. John Graham to amplify the collective student voice and expand students’ representation and influence in key discussions and decisions that impact their lives. Dr. Graham was appointed by Chancellor Malatras in September to lead the effort.

The Student Voices Action Committee is already playing a pivotal role—raising issues that have inspired new policies addressing both food insecurity and mental health and wellness.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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