Chancellor Malatras Announces Dr. John Graham as Officer-in-Charge at SUNY Potsdam

June 30, 2021

SUNY’s Student Advocate and Senior Advisor Dr. Graham to Lead as Dr. Kristin Esterberg Prepares to Step Down

Dr. Graham’s Headshot is Available Here

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today the appointment of Dr. John Graham as officer-in-charge at SUNY Potsdam. Dr. Graham, who serves as SUNY’s student advocate and senior advisor to Chancellor Malatras, will provide a smooth transition for the campus as President Kristin Esterberg prepares to step down in August.

“As we work to broaden what it means to be student-centric at SUNY, Dr. Graham has been our students’ direct contact here at system, taking feedback and advice to make changes that matter most in helping them achieve their degrees,” said Chancellor Malatras. “He will do the same at SUNY Potsdam and at a time when we look toward a full reopening of our campuses. My thanks to Dr. Esterberg for her service to SUNY Potsdam’s students, faculty, and staff, and her final work with John to ensure a smooth transition. Dr. Esterberg will always be a member of the SUNY family.”

SUNY Potsdam College Council Chair June O’Neill said, “We look forward to welcoming Dr. Graham to the SUNY Potsdam community, as we reopen campus and prepare for a face-to-face fall semester. His depth of experience in higher education and his years of advocacy to support students will be a welcome addition at the helm, as we prepare to launch a national search for a permanent president.”

Dr. Graham said, “Dr. Esterberg has been a sound leader for SUNY Potsdam—and a staunch advocate for the students, faculty, and staff—throughout her tenure, and I am honored to continue this legacy. SUNY Potsdam is known for promoting an inclusive academic community and training our future educators, and I am thrilled to be able to work with the faculty and staff of SUNY Potsdam to continue to carry out this important mission. This fall semester will be a busy and exciting time for our campuses—as we welcome students back and resume in-person learning across SUNY system, my top priority is to ensure a smooth transition occurs and to be an advocate for every member of SUNY Potsdam’s campus community.”

As part of the leadership transition, SUNY Potsdam’s search for a permanent president will be announced soon.

About Dr. John Graham
As student advocate and senior advisor, Dr. Graham provides systemwide leadership in furthering SUNY’s academic priorities and campus efforts to improve access, retention, and success of all SUNY students. He serves as a member of the Chancellor’s executive leadership team and is the principal for SUNY initiatives and efforts related to student life including policy development, review and consultation with SUNY Administration partners, campus leaders, and chief student affairs officers. This collaboration includes the Student Voices Action Committee. He also works closely with Student Assembly and serves as the liaison on the Student Life Committee for the Board of Trustees. Dr. Graham provides oversight for all systemwide Educational Opportunity Programs, including the Educational Opportunity Centers for Academic and Workforce Development.

Dr. Graham facilitates the coordination and sustainability of the Systemwide Student Mental Health and Wellness Task Force and the Food Insecurity Task Force to ensure a safe living and learning community for all students. His administrative team provides coordination and support for students with disabilities, diversity and adult learners, mental health, Veteran and Military Affairs, child-care services, and substance abuse services. Previously, Dr. Graham served as the vice provost and associate provost for student affairs and university life. He also served as a provost fellow for academic and strategic development at SUNY.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Graham has held faculty appointments and senior administrative positions at public universities in both urban and suburban environments. A consistent thread in his work has been a strong commitment to and focus on development of all students. He served as the transitional vice president for university advancement and external relations at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and developed a comprehensive five-year fundraising plan to stabilize the institution for new leadership. He also served as the chief executive officer at SUNY’s Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center preparing adult learners for college-readiness.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Graham worked as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State and served as a member of the Negotiation Team - Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations. Dr. Graham has lived abroad for five years and completed his masters and doctoral research overseas. His professional travel extends to more than 60 countries on six continents.

Dr. Graham received his doctorate from Michigan State University and has post-graduate certificates in leadership from the American Association for State Colleges and Universities’ Executive Leadership Academy, State University of New York Executive Leadership Academy, Millennium Leadership Initiative, Institute for Educational Management and Executive Education at Harvard University

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

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications