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Job offer "came out of left field," new chancellor appointee says

The Department of Education isn’t granting any interviews with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chancellor appointee Cathie Black until she assumes office next month. But Black has given one short interview — to New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

Black told Adams that Bloomberg called a “couple of weeks ago” and wanted to meet the next morning. When Black arrived at the mayor’s foundation offices the next day, she said, Bloomberg offered her the chancellor job on the spot:

The offer came out of left field, and my stomach did a flip-flop.

That Bloomberg offered Black the job without any sort of screening process seems to give credence to the theory that Black was the only candidate he considered seriously.

Although the mayor said on Tuesday that he “considered many different people,” thus far it’s not clear that he talked to anyone else about the job, or who he consulted besides Chancellor Joel Klein as he was making up his mind. The Times has decided to crowd-source the question, asking its readers to contact them if anyone at City Hall spoke to them about the position. (Note to our readers: if you were contacted, don’t e-mail the Times. E-mail us.)

Black also gives a hint to her motivations for taking the position. After having been replaced as president of Hearst Magazines in June, Black told Adams that she appreciated the opportunity to advance:

It’s a great thing when, at a certain stage in life, you can be able to deal up . . . not down.

Adams’ brief interview also reveals Black’s mindset as she prepares to take what she acknowledges will be a tremendously challenging new gig. Black told Adams that she is “not nervous at all” and that she believes that with the help of Klein’s eight (now seven) deputy chancellors she will “get up to speed quickly.”

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