Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, December 09, 2008  
Contact Information:  Contact: John Hall
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Phone: 859-685-1050

Sue Patrick
Phone: 502-573-1555
Cell: 502-330-6596

NOTE TO EDITORS: Statements of support from former New York Governor George Pataki and other colleagues follow this news release.  King’s photo and resume are available at

     The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education today unanimously named Robert L. King as its third president. King will officially begin his term no later than April 1. He replaces Thomas Layzell who retired in September 2007.

     King, 61, is the former chancellor of the State University of New York, the largest higher education system in the country with 64 campuses and an annual operating budget of $8.5 billion.  He presently serves as president and CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation, a statewide charitable foundation with a strong focus on education, economic development and scientific research.

     Since June, the Council has been operating under the oversight of Interim Council President Richard Crofts. Crofts will assist with an orderly transition. The current plan is for Crofts to remain in his position through the end of January.
King’s appointment concludes a nationwide search that identified a pool of 40 highly qualified candidates.

     John Hall, chairman of the Council’s Presidential Search Committee, praised King for making significant progress at SUNY in areas important to Kentucky’s higher education reforms--enrollment, retention, graduation rates, research volume and philanthropy.
“Bob King has extensive leadership experience in education and state government. His work with the SUNY system provides him with many experiences and ideas that will be beneficial to Kentucky,” said Hall.

     John Turner, chairman of the Council, added, “Mr. King’s background also prepares him to be a strong advocate for postsecondary education. He is the right choice for Kentucky and we are delighted with his appointment.”

     King’s three-year contract includes a $360,000 salary, $40,000 for housing or deferred compensation and a state vehicle. By statute, the president of the Council must make more than the base salary of the highest paid public university president which is $352,000.

     King draws high praise from his colleagues as well as former New York Governor George Pataki who stated, “I think he is the best chancellor we have had in 30 years. I have been in Albany long enough to know several of them. He led the system in raising academic standards and differentiating the missions of the institutions so that we could better meet the needs of our state.”

     Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, added, “Bob King is one of America’s great leaders in higher education and he will serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky very well.”
Former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton, who is also a member of the Council, voiced strong support for King. “Bob King has an excellent combination of academic and political skills which will be required to be successful in this position,” he said.

     King received a bachelor of art’s degree in 1968 from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and a juris doctor in 1971 from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. He is married to Karen, his wife of 32 years, and they have four grown children.

     “I am tremendously honored to be named president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education,” said King. “I pledge my full commitment to the people of Kentucky and advancing the goals of higher education reform.

     “I look forward to engaging campus leadership, the broader education community, state officials and elected leaders toward achieving those goals,” he added.


Statements of Support
Provided to the Council

Former New York Governor George Pataki:
New York Governor George Pataki served three consecutive terms as Governor from 1995-2006. Bob King served as State Budget Director the last two years of Governor Pataki’s first term.

According to Pataki, “I think he is the best Chancellor we have had in 30 years.  I have been in Albany long enough to know several of them.  He led the system in raising academic standards and differentiating the missions of the institutions so that we could better meet the needs of our state.  One of the most significant results of his leadership was the creation of effective partnerships with the private sector.  A good example is in Albany where the Nanotechnology Center at SUNY-Albany has brought in over $4 billion in investment from the public and private sector.  We provided some seed money, and the spinoffs have created hundreds of jobs and at least $5-10 billion in investments in the state directly related to that partnership.  Bob was the leader on that initiative.

“Bob knew how to advocate effectively for the System when we had downturns in the budget, and the Legislature respected that.  It is a tribute to his leadership that the Legislature approved the largest infusion of capital improvements in the System’s history while he was Chancellor.

“As for some of the media reports on his departure, keep in mind that Bob didn’t get a thing that had not been given to all the previous chancellors in 25 years.  He was treated just like they were.”

Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University:
“Bob King is one of America’s great leaders in higher education and he will serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky very well.”

Lois DeFleur, President of Binghamton University and Senior President in New York’s SUNY System:   
“I got to know Bob when he was Governor Pataki’s Budget Director and I respected him.  He was a good Chancellor for SUNY.  He is very astute. He cared about the campuses and was very supportive of presidents.  If you were competent and doing a good job, he was very helpful in solving problems making use of his broad experience.”

John Simpson, President of SUNY-Buffalo:
John Simpson is President of SUNY-Buffalo, the largest most comprehensive university in the SUNY System, where he is also an accomplished research scientist specializing in neuroendocrinology. 

 “I was very pleased to work with him as head of the system, and I congratulate the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education on this appointment.   Bob King is not from an academic background, but you don’t necessarily need an academic in these jobs at the state level.  You need someone who has excellent instincts and good political skills.  Bob surely has those.”


     Kentucky is in the middle of the most dramatic economic and social transformation in its history. Double the Numbers: Kentucky’s Plan to Increase College Graduates explains that increasing bachelor’s degrees is the quickest, most direct way for Kentucky to increase its economic prosperity. College graduates earn more, are healthier, create a more robust economy, and enjoy a higher quality of life. The Double the Numbers plan outlines five statewide strategies for Kentucky to achieve this ambitious, but achievable goal. While this effort will not be easy, the benefits of Doubling the Numbers will be felt by all Kentuckians.


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Last Updated 1/16/2009