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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Office of the President

John L. Graham, Ph.D.

Campus Leader

Dr. John L. Graham has been appointed Officer-in-Charge at SUNY Potsdam, following the departure of former President Kristin G. Esterberg. Dr. Graham joined the campus on Sept. 1. 

Dr. Graham comes to Potsdam from SUNY System Administration, where he most recently served as student advocate and senior advisor to the Chancellor, providing systemwide leadership in furthering SUNY’s academic priorities and campus efforts to improve access, retention and success for all students. He served as a member of the Chancellor’s executive leadership team and was 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 included the Student Voices Action Committee. He also worked closely with Student Assembly and served as the liaison on the Student Life Committee for the Board of Trustees. Dr. Graham provided oversight for all systemwide Educational Opportunity Programs, including the Educational Opportunity Centers for Academic and Workforce Development. 

Also at SUNY, Dr. Graham facilitated 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 provided coordination and support for students with disabilities, diversity and adult learners, mental health, veteran and military affairs, childcare 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 master’s 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, the State University of New York Executive Leadership Academy, Millennium Leadership Initiative, Institute for Educational Management and Executive Education at Harvard University.