The University Council

Each state-operated campus of the SUNY system has an oversight Council, appointed by the Governor. This body is mandated by Article 8, Section 356 of the New York State Education Law, which provides for the establishment of a local council to supervise the operations and affairs of each state-operated institution of the State University System.

At UAlbany, this body is called the University Council. The council function is subject to the general management, supervision and control of and in accordance with rules established by the Board of Trustees for SUNY.


The Members

The members of the Council are prominent citizens, often from the Capital Region and the New York City Metropolitan area. Their backgrounds are diverse with careers in business and education, government and non-profit organizations and various professions. Nine of the ten members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for seven year terms. The tenth member is a student, who is elected for a one-year term by and from the students enrolled at the institution. The chair-elect of the University Senate serves as the faculty representative, a graduate student representative is elected by the Graduate Student Association, and an alumni representative is voted on by the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The Council chair is appointed by the Governor. Past Council Chairs have included notable civic leaders such as former Mayor of Albany, Thomas Whalen, former judges, including John Holt-Harris, and a founder of one of Albany’s older law firms (J. Vanderbilt Straub), and the current Chair, President and CEO of SEFCU, Michael Castellana.



The University Council meets quarterly during the academic calendar year to meet its statutory requirement to conduct University business.

Some business (ie: presidential searches) may necessitate a call for additional meetings throughout the calendar year. Meetings are attended by the President’s Executive Council, but are open to the public and are streamed online. Robert’s Rules of Order is the authority on all questions of parliamentary procedure in which they are applicable and not inconsistent with the laws of NYS or the Council bylaws. As an advisory body to the President, items such as strategic budgeting, branding, legislative priorities, recruitment, and mandated federal and state policies are topical areas that are discussed at length. Historical overview of specific agenda topics, meeting minutes and audio and/or video recording of Council meetings can be found online.

In addition to the statutory meetings of the Council, the President and Council Chair consult regularly throughout the year on issues, initiatives, reports, and other matters related to University operation.


Presidential Searches

The most important responsibility of the Council is its management of the presidential search process. Section 356(3)(a) of the NYS Education Law outlines the responsibility of the Council to recommend candidate(s) to the Chancellor and SUNY Board of Trustees to fill a presidential vacancy. The Council managed this process in 2003, 2006 and most recently in 2016.



While the duties of the Council are prescribed by law, members are actively engaged in campus activities which foster their personal affiliation with the University. Members work alongside leadership in support of and to advocate for strategic initiatives, legislative priorities, and advancement related efforts. 


Contact the Council