SUNY Chancellor Convenes Discussion on the Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Best-Selling Author Beth Macy

September 17, 2019

Event Marks Debut of "The NYS Writers Institute in NYC" at SUNY Global

New York City – SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today announced that SUNY will convene a discussion about the nation’s opioid crisis to be led by journalist Beth Macy, the best-selling author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America (Little Brown and Co., 2018). The event marks the first time SUNY is partnering with the New York State Writers Institute. It will take place today, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. at SUNY Global, located at 116 E. 55th Street.

"SUNY is so proud to work with the New York State Writers Institute to focus attention on the nation’s opioid crisis, which has devastated the lives of millions of Americans," said SUNY Chancellor Johnson. "Through the skilled and thoughtful lens of Beth Macy, we will learn how this crisis has gotten to where it is and the solutions needed to overcome this epidemic. I applaud the NYS Writers Institute for bringing Macy to SUNY Global and look forward to having more compelling conversations with other authors."

"We are honored to partner with the SUNY Chancellor’s Office to bring acclaimed author and journalist Beth Macy to SUNY Global to discuss the opioid crisis, one of the most pressing public health emergencies of our time," said Paul Grondahl, director of the NYS Writers Institute at the University at Albany. "As a journalist, I wrote extensively about the human wreckage and family trauma fatal heroin overdoses and opioid addiction left in its wake in New York’s Capital Region, and I am deeply impressed with the dogged reporting and journalistic passion Macy brought to her brilliant book, Dopesick. She is a reporter’s reporter and a shining example of journalism at its best. She has begun a vital and necessary national conversation on a difficult subject that demands our full attention."

Dopesick explores the impact of opioids on the western region of Virginia, across wealthy suburbs, rural farm towns, and small cities. It was named one of the top five books of 2018 by New York Times literary critic Janet Maslin. The book also won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize award for science and technology.

A former reporter for the Roanoke Times, Macy spent three decades reporting on the Appalachian region of western Virginia, which she calls the birthplace of the modern opioid epidemic. Her work focused on social and economic trends in those regions, and how they affect ordinary people.

Macy is the author of two previous bestsellers: Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town (2014), currently in development for an HBO miniseries produced by Tom Hanks, and Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South (2016).

The event is open to the public and features a reception and book signing, followed by an interview and Q&A with Macy, which will be moderated by Grondahl. 

The conversation with Macy is among the latest efforts by SUNY to confront the nation’s opioid crisis by raising awareness, developing research, and increasing community partnerships. SUNY researchers are doing studies to prevent and treat addiction and overdose, including a potential vaccine to treat heroin addiction.

About the NYS Writers Institute

The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany is one of the nation’s premier literary presenting organizations. It was founded in 1983 by Albany’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy with seed money from his MacArthur "genius" grant. It was codified by legislation the following year and signed into law by Governor Mario M. Cuomo. The law stipulates that the Writers Institute select an official New York State Author and New York State Poet every two years, the only organization in the country that has such a mandate. The Writers Institute has brought to campus more than 2,000 acclaimed authors in every genre from around the world, including a dozen Nobel Prize winners and more than 200 recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. In addition to offering craft talks for faculty and students, the Writers Institute hosts dozens of free public readings and discussions each year, organizes community writing workshops and hosts an annual Albany Book Festival each fall on the UAlbany campus. They will launch an inaugural Albany Film Festival in the spring of 2020 that will focus on writing and film. 

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, 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 2022, 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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