Teachers College alumnus and former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. (Ed.D. ’08, M.A. ’97) has been named as the new chancellor of the State University of New York, its Board of Trustees announced on Dec. 5.

As chancellor, King will lead the nation’s largest higher education system, which serves nearly 1.3 million students in more than 7500 programs throughout New York. King’s service to SUNY will follow his extensive work at the helm of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing education equity policy, and his tenure as the U.S. Secretary of Education during the Obama administration.

“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,’" said King, who virtually returned to TC to welcome students in 2020. "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 poised to lead SUNY as students navigate a changing economy and leaders continue to strive for greater equity — both of which have served as driving forces throughout King’s decades in education.

"As U.S. Secretary of Education, John demonstrated his strong commitment to equity and to advancing access, affordability and completion for all students — ideals deeply held by TC,” said Teachers College President Thomas Bailey. “We look forward to working alongside John as he leads SUNY, striving to implement these same ideals for students in New York’s community college and four-year college system."

King began his career as a social studies teacher in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Boston Massachusetts, where he co-founded a middle school specifically intended to serve a high-poverty student population. The school became one of the highest performing urban public middle schools in the state and eventually grew into the successful Uncommon Schools network, which he co-managed.

King would go on to serve as the state education commissioner in New York, run for governor of Maryland, and throughout it all, speak openly about the intersection of racial justice and education.

“Kids need to see mirrors of themselves in the narratives, authors and texts that they read,” King said in a panel for TC’s new student orientation in 2020. “A school that is not doing these things but spending a half hour every day on mindfulness is not making a real commitment to the social development of kids. To do so effectively demands a focus on racial equity and may require leadership to examine things like implicit bias. It’s difficult, but we have to do that work.”

[Read the press release announcing King’s appointment.]