Governor Cuomo Announces the Appointment of Dr. Meryl H. Tisch to Serve as Chair and Cesar Perales to Servce as Vice Chair of SUNY Board of Trustees

September 25, 2019

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of Dr. Merryl H. Tisch to serve as chair and Cesar Perales to serve as vice chair of the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

"Dr. Tisch is one of the nation's leading education experts and her decades of experience as a teacher and administrator combined with her deep commitment to New York students make her the perfect person to help guide SUNY into the future," Governor Cuomo said. "Cesar Perales has devoted his entire career to public service and to creating opportunities for New Yorkers in every leadership role he has held throughout his distinguished career, and I have no doubt he will continue to deliver for students throughout SUNY in his new role as vice chair. I look forward to working with both of these exceptional leaders to help ensure SUNY continues delivering an affordable, world-class higher education."

Dr. Merryl H. Tisch

Dr. Tisch recently served as Vice Chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees since March, 2018.  Prior to her appointment, Dr. Tisch was a member of the Board of Regents for 20 years and held the position of Vice Chancellor from 2007 to 2009. As Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Dr. Tisch was responsible for setting the state's education policy and overseeing both public and private education throughout New York. Her policies were informed by years of experience in the fields of education, community service, and philanthropy, including her work as a first-grade teacher at New York City's Ramaz School and the B'nai Jeshurun School.

She currently holds a number of philanthropic and civic positions, including serving on the board of the International Rescue Committee and as co-chairperson of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a leading social services agency. In addition, Dr. Tisch is on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and acts as the Met's representative on the Public Design Commission. She also sits on the executive committees of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Citizens Budget Commission, and serves on the board of The Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York and the Graduate School of Education's Board of Overseers at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Tisch founded the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mt. Sinai Hospital in 2008. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, an M.A. in Education from New York University, and received an Ed.D from Teacher's College, Columbia University.

Cesar Perales

Cesar Perales was appointed a member of the SUNY Board of Trustees on June 21, 2019.  Mr. Perales grew up in New York City and earned a bachelor's degree from City College and a law degree from Fordham Law School.

Prior to his appointment as SUNY Trustee, Mr. Perales served as New York State's Secretary of State, where he was a leader in the state's economic development, community revitalization and anti-poverty efforts. At the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo, he also established the New York Office for New Americans and the Empire State Fellows Program.

Mr. Perales became a neighborhood legal services lawyer upon graduation from law school and represented hundreds of indigent New Yorkers. He went on to be a co-founder and first head of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), now known as LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Under his leadership, the organization brought suit against several school boards to ensure that non-English speaking students received language assistance. He also initiated successful anti-racial gerrymandering litigation in New York City. Mr. Perales also sued several jurisdictions to provide translation at the ballot box - a requirement that was subsequently made an amendment to the national Voting Rights Act.

Mr. Perales has devoted much of his life to public health and human services, serving as Assistant Secretary for Health, Education and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter; New York State Commissioner of Social Services under Governor Mario Cuomo; Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services under New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Senior Vice-President for Community Health at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for selecting two distinguished leaders to lead SUNY's Board of Trustees. I have worked closely with Dr. Merryl Tisch and her intellect, leadership and deep commitment for students has been invaluable to SUNY. Since recently joining the Board, Mr. Cesar Perales' presence, dedication and advocacy for students will no doubt benefit all our campuses. I congratulate our new leadership as we work together to bring the highest quality and affordable education to our entire system."

About the SUNY Board of Trustees

The SUNY Board of Trustees is the governing body of the State University of New York. The Board consists of 18 members, 15 of whom are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. In addition, the President of the Student Assembly of the State University serves as an ex-officio voting Trustee, and the President of the University Faculty Senate and the President of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges serve as ex-officio non-voting Trustees.

The Board's responsibilities include appointing and approving University leadership including the Chancellor and senior system staff and campus presidents, regulating the tuition and fees charged by SUNY campuses, and granting the degrees, diplomas, certificates and honorary degrees that SUNY issues every year. The Board meets nearly every month of the year, and meetings are open to the public and webcast live to give New Yorkers a front-row seat to University operations. The Board also holds public open forums twice a year to give the public the opportunity to interact with the board and provide input.

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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