King named SUNY’s 15th chancellor

Published December 5, 2022

John B. King Jr., a lifelong educator and secretary of education in the Obama administration, was appointed SUNY’s 15th chancellor today by the board of trustees.

King will take on his new role in January. He succeeds Deborah F. Stanley, former president of SUNY Oswego, who has been serving as interim chancellor since December 2021.

“I am humbled and honored to accept the position of chancellor and to advance Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vision to make SUNY the best statewide system of public higher education in our nation,’” King 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.”

King is currently president of The Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students in early childhood, K-12 education and higher education. Prior to his appointment to that post in 2017, King served as U.S. secretary of education under President Barack Obama, who called him “an exceptionally talented educator.” While serving in this cabinet-level post, King worked to simplify the financial aid process, oversaw federal investments in evidence-based strategies to increase college completion and advocated for the president’s America’s College Promise proposal, which called for creating a federal-state partnership to make attendance at community colleges free and also investing in scaled wrap-around services to support students on the path to academic success. 

From 2011 until joining the Obama administration in 2015, King served as New York State’s first African American and first Puerto Rican education commissioner. In this position, he worked to leverage federal Perkins funding to invest in a statewide initiative connecting K-12 schools, higher education institutions and employers to tailor high school curriculum to meet the needs of a modern-day workforce — an effort he has expressed to the board of trustees that he hopes to continue and expand on as chancellor.

“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. John King has a proven record of doing both,” said SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Merryl H. Tisch.

King holds a BA in government from Harvard University, a MA in the teaching of social studies from Columbia University’s Teachers College, a JD from Yale Law School, and a EdD in educational administrative practice from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He was a 1995 Truman Scholar and received the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary-level teaching of American history, American government and social studies.

King 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 in New York City, and also serves on the boards of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Century Foundation and MDRC.

Among many awards, he is the recipient of the Ann S. Kheel Award from the New York Urban League, the Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award from the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, the New York Immigration Coalition Builders of the “New” New York Award, and the Robin Hood Foundation Heroes Award, as well as honorary degrees from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the University of Memphis and LeMoyne College.