John King Jr., the former U.S. Education Secretary who served under former President Barack Obama from 2016 to 2017, was named State University of New York chancellor Monday afternoon, setting him up to lead the largest public university system in the country.
The board unanimously approved the selection, putting an end to a year-long global search. King will replace interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley, former president of SUNY Oswego, who took over the reins in December 2021.
Excited to work toward equity & excellence as the 15th Chancellor of @SUNY! Humbled & honored by the opportunity to advance @GovKathyHochul’s vision to make @SUNY the best statewide system of public higher education in our nation. https://t.co/zQJucXpukd pic.twitter.com/NEUEoQhwHP
— Dr. John B. King, Jr. (@JohnBKing) December 5, 2022
King’s impressive résumé includes decades of experience as a leader in education at the local, state and national levels.
“As we work to continue to transform SUNY to meet the needs of the next generation of students and New York’s economy, we need a leader who understands how to balance striving for both excellence and equity,” said Chairman Merryl H. Tisch. “John King has a proven record of doing both.”
According to King, public education saved his life, which is the reason he chooses to serve in the field.
“I am humbled and honored to accept the position of chancellor and to advance Governor Kathy Hochul’s vision to make SUNY the best statewide system of public higher education in our nation,” he said. “Public education quite literally saved my life when I lost both of my parents at a young age, and I have dedicated my professional career ever since to ensuring that every student has access to the academic opportunities that they need and deserve.
“I look forward to working with all members of our campus communities, lawmakers, and stakeholders to bring SUNY to new heights and maximize its potential.”
Since 2017, King has served as President of The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that encourages high academic achievement for every student. Prior to taking that role, he led the Education Department under Obama, who said he was “an exceptionally talented educator.” During that time he sought to simplify the financial aid process, made efforts to increase college completion and advocated for Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal, a federal-state partnership that allows for free access to community college.
King also was elected to serve on the Harvard University Board of Overseers in 2019, is a Vice Chair of the Board of the American Museum of Natural History and serves on boards for the Robin Hood Foundation, the Century Foundation and MDRC.
“John King brings a wealth of experience to this new position,” said President of Harvard University Lawrence Bacow. “As both the US Secretary of Education and an Overseer of Harvard, he understands both the opportunities and the challenges faced by higher education. SUNY is fortunate to be getting the benefit of his leadership.”
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