About James Odato

In a career rooted in watchdog reporting, Explorer editor James M. Odato has been cited as one of New York’s top journalists covering state government, gambling, and abuse and waste of public money. He has written thousands of articles, his byline has appeared in numerous national publications and his investigative stories have spurred reforms. As a staff reporter for five daily newspapers, including the Albany Times Union and Buffalo News, Odato has received more than 30 awards from the Associated Press, New York Publishers Association, the New York Legislative Correspondents Association and other media organizations. In 2007, Investigative Reporters and Editors recognized his reporting with the Freedom of Information Award Medal. In October 2021, the University of Massachusetts Press released his book, This Brain Had a Mouth, Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation.

Reader Interactions


  1. George Locker says

    Thank goodness the NYS Dept. of Education protected the future integrity of Paul Smith’s as a college, when its own Board clearly was prepared to give the school away. Apparently contrary to law. The entire Board should do the decent thing and resign. How can it possibly stay on? Paul Smith’s College and every holder of political office in the North Country should start a PUBLIC campaign to press for Paul Smith’s to be absorbed by SUNY.

    • Afterthought says

      Agree with everything you say up to the “absorbed by SUNY” part. All of higher ed is struggling – not just small private colleges. Take a look at the finances of SUNY Colleges from Albany->north, it’s not a pretty picture. We’ve witnessed something alarming and spectacular at the same time. Struggling rural communities and their systems are being gobbled up by predatory companies. We could have seen something very different. Envision the same set of resources, more capital, and corporate ownership. Then witness the economic stratification that has historically occurred in many rural north country communities. A class of local elites suddenly owns the valuable land that surrounds a small community, which is a hub to the surrounding hamlets and towns. We’ve seen these communities will not actually have the capacity they have the potential for. The base economic structure does not change, and the residents are left struggling worse off than they were. PSC has survived another turn. We are so proud to call ourselves a Smitty family (3 alumna) today. We fully support the decision to discontinue the partnership.

      • George Locker says

        I agree completely with your analysis. That said, Paul Smith’s needs financial help and an increase in enrollment – from some place, somehow. It is not enough for supporters of Paul Smith’s to reject Joan Weill’s millions, or to be saved from Fedcap by the grace of the NYS Dept of Education, and then do nothing but watch the situation deteriorate. Pride alone does not pay the bills.

        A NEW board must undertake a robust and PUBLIC campaign directed at the Governor to secure the integrity and the future of Paul Smith’s. Every elected representative and every PS supporter must be on board.

        This is probably Paul Smith’s last chance to save itself on its own terms. Think of it as an Adirondack rescue, which folks up here understand and do very well.

  2. Rachael Shafer says

    I would love to collaborate on fundraising campaigns for the secure future of this incredible learning institution. How can I/we help?

  3. George Locker says

    Please post the June 30 letter from NYS Dept of Education.

    Clearly, what was being proposed by Fedcap was not the future of small college education, but rather, something unlawful. I wonder whether the PS Board – which has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of Paul Smith’s – ever considered this basic legal concern.

  4. Concerned parents says

    Tuition costs are high for what the students are getting. Dorms are not kept up, pool hasn’t been opened in years and teachers don’t care about their students who struggle.

    • Afterthought says

      The infrastructure of the college has been deteriorating for many years. It’s over 100 years old and is constantly hammered by lakefront and regional weather that does a lot of damage. I don’t agree with comparing the infrastructure and need for capital improvements to the quality of teaching. The faculty at PSC has been under tremendous stress (remember they’re people with families and bills to pay) as non-tenured employees in higher ed. I assure you they are giving all that they are to their students and trying to create for them the best opportunities possible in an arena where a lot of things have been impossible.

  5. allen beals says

    Hard to understand why a college with a focus on the environment isn’t thriving considering the issues facing the planet right now.

  6. Joan Grabe says

    Allen Beals, Paul Smith’s tried to turn itself into a 4 year liberal arts college in the forest years ago. It used to concentrate on forestry and the environment and hospitality. Two fields which enhanced the area very successfully. I think the Weill case which a court decided in favor of the Smith family heirs who resisted a name change was a setback and Covid was a set back but in the end I think the location which is too remote and isolated ( hey, don’t be mad at me as my daughter graduated from St, Lawrence University so I know “remote”) and the size was too small to compete. Parents who are paying tuition are looking for a college that is growing, not shrinking. The Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s is stellar and should be supported in the turmoil ahead. This Governor is much more positive about SUNY so don’t count them out. But I think the Board should be realistic and focused on perhaps dissolution down the road.

  7. Bob says

    Anyone who has watched this slow motion train wreck at Paul Smith’s should realize this situation has been going downhill for some time (Dr. Mills was probably the last time things were sort of OK). When they made it a 4 year school it began to struggle. As a 2 year school, especially with the hospitality aspect, it was a regional school with a real purpose. There were numerous things that they could have survived with like nursing/healthcare, and certain other much needed occupations up there, While going to a 4 year college sounds very respectable it doesn’t work well financially and therein lies the rub. When Dr. Dove came in (she having worked with the Weill’s in NYC) she was CLUELESS on the history of Paul Smith’s and the day they announced the Joan Weill name change she shot herself and the college in the foot. The wound has festered, she’s long gone but the damage was done. Good luck. IMO if Joan Weill had any class, she would have forgone the name change and given the $20 million. Klass with a Kapital K? Sorry, I know they have given a lot of money up there, but did they give without strings attached? The wonderful thing about the “old days” and old money fortunes that made LP/Saranacs what is was (and to some degree still is), they gave without expecting anything in return. A true “gift” has no strings attached. Just a heads up folks, this is an institution with financial problems. Hey maybe Harlan Crow will buy it and endow the Judge Clarence Thomas school of finance? Sorry for the sarcasm, but that’s the kind of billionaire you have living up there now.

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