Cathie Black, who has been the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines for 15 years, and before that publisher of New York magazine and USA Today, will replace Joel Klein as the chancellor of New York City schools.
While it comes as no surprise that Black is leaving Hearst–she was passed over for president when David Carey got the job last July–her departure comes quicker than Hearst execs had anticipated and her new title comes as a shock to many, given her lack of experience in education. A senior staff member in the Department of Education told the New York Times that the announcement caught top aides off guard, that “Mr. Klein had not said anything to them about wanting a new job” and that “top aides did not know anything about Ms. Black.” And in a memo to Hearst staffers, chief executive Frank Bennack conceded that he expected “Cathie’s handling of the transition with David…to take place over a longer period of time,” according to WWD.
At yesterday’s press conference announcing the shift, Mayor Bloomberg called Black “a superstar manager who has succeeded spectacularly in the private sector” and added, “There’s no one who knows more about the skills our children will need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” the NYT is reporting. Black admitted that she had little experience dealing with unions and that her own children attended private boarding school in Connecticut, but said, according to WWD, “the change and the opportunity to make a difference is what compelled me to want this position.”
As Black exits the media world, Klein, who held the job as the city’s schools chancellor for eight years, is leaving to become an executive vice president at News Corp.