Trump nominates Kentucky higher education chief for key post under Betsy DeVos

Bob King
Bob King

The outgoing chief of Kentucky higher education has been nominated for a top post in the administration of President Donald Trump.

The White House announced Tuesday that Robert King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, is up for the job of Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos. King is Trump’s first higher education appointment, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this year, King announced he would retire in June, but the council’s board asked him to stay on until a successor was found. It’s not clear when King will depart his state job, officials said. King makes $360,000 a year.

King served as chancellor of the State University of New York system and president of the Arizona Community Foundation before coming to Kentucky. He also served as budget director to former New York Gov. George Pataki, a moderate Republican. He has never worked at the federal level.

He was not immediately available for comment.

King has served both Democratic and Republican governors in Kentucky, creating few waves as the state’s public universities suffered several budget cuts while still improving some attendance and graduation rates. Recently, he came under fire from at least two university presidents for a new funding formula that rewards schools based on performance.

“No one is more deserving, capable and ready to serve at this level than Bob King,” said council Chair Sherrill Zimmerman. “Bob has been a tremendous asset to Kentucky, and he will continue his strong leadership in this new role.”

DeVos’ biggest moves in higher education have been to undo Obama administration curbs on for-profit colleges, including reversing protections for students in debt to such schools, including ones that have closed.