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SUNY Potsdam to Mark Week of Mourning, in Memory of Late Officer-in-Charge Dr. John L. Graham

December 5, 2021

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras Declares Week of Mourning for SUNY Potsdam, as Campus Remembers Dr. John L. Graham

Dr. John L. Graham served as SUNY Potsdam’s officer-in-charge from Sept. 1 until his passing on Nov. 27.

Please note: The date of Dr. Graham's memorial service was listed incorrectly in the last version. Please excuse the error, and note that services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11 (corrected below). 

SUNY Potsdam will mark the life and legacy of its late Officer-in-Charge Dr. John L. Graham, with a series of special events and commemorations this week. Dr. Graham passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 27.

In recognition of this tragic loss, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has officially declared a week of mourning for the SUNY Potsdam campus from Dec. 6 to 12. Classes and activities will continue as scheduled, alongside a series of special events and commemorations.

A number of campus groups are organizing special activities to remember Dr. Graham throughout the week.

“Many of us admired Dr. John L. Graham, our late Officer-in-Charge. He brought creative and innovative approaches to a receptive campus. For a lot of us he brought hope, and as we have all gathered in grief, we have realized his vast impact and tremendous legacy of caring or as he described it, the ‘care gene.’ It has become evident if it was not clear before that this campus cared for Dr. Graham, and it is equally clear through countless accounts that he cared for this campus community: the staff, the students, athletes, maintenance workers, program directors, faculty, PACES employees, the President’s Office, and so many other community members from different departments, programs, backgrounds, and traditions,” said Associate Professor of English and Communication Dr. John Youngblood, who has helped to organize the week’s activities along with colleagues and students.

The Chancellor has extended the authorization for SUNY Potsdam flags to continue to be flown at half staff through Dec. 11, and the doorway of the President’s House has also been draped in black.

Members of the Black Faculty Caucus and Black Student Association have arranged for a memorial wreath to be on display in four locations on campus throughout the week as follows:

  • Monday, Dec. 6: Becky’s Place
  • Tuesday, Dec. 7: Maxcy Hall Athletic Complex
  • Wednesday, Dec. 8: Barrington Student Union
  • Thursday, Dec. 9: Lougheed Learning Commons

Visitors will be invited to sign a condolence book alongside the wreath, which will both be presented to Dr. Graham’s family and loved ones at his memorial services in Delaware on Saturday, December 11.

There will be a moment of silence on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 11:27 a.m. The time was chosen to mirror the date of Dr. Graham’s passing, Nov. 27 (11/27). During the moment of silence, the bells atop the clocktower of Satterlee Hall will resound, as the carillon plays the campus “Alma Mater.”

On Thursday, Dec. 9, students from Dr. Youngblood’s Rhetoric of Social Movements class have organized a “March for Dr. Graham.” The march will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Academic Quad in front of the Lougheed Learning Commons and will proceed to Maxcy Hall, where a vigil will be held in the Field House. Face coverings are required indoors for this event.

On Friday, Dec. 10, The Crane School of Music will dedicate “A Concert for Equity and Equality” in honor of Dr. Graham and the late Crane Dean Emeritus Dr. Lonel Woods (Hon. ’21). The concert is free and will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall, and will stream live online at Audience members attending in person must wear face coverings indoors and seating will be socially distanced.

Dr. Graham was appointed to serve as SUNY Potsdam’s campus leader on Sept. 1, and unified campus around his singular vision for the College’s future. Prior to his service at Potsdam, he was most recently SUNY’s student advocate and a senior advisor to the Chancellor. To learn more about his life and legacy, visit


About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

For Media Inquiries

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, College Communications (315) 267-2114

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