ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– New York’s new SUNY chancellor will be taking over in the new year. One area John King said he’s focused on, is the role SUNY can play in economic development throughout the state.

“You think about Nanotech in the Albany region in about Micron coming to the Syracuse region. You think about the work on battery technology at Binghamton. Huge opportunity for SUNY to create economic opportunity for students and attract employers to the state,” said King.

King said he wants SUNY to attract students to programs that are well matched to their aspirations, as well as making sure SUNY is providing students with the support they need to start and finish college.

He will officially begin as Chancellor in mid-January. Currently he is the President of the Education Trust and prior to that, he served as the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama. But this won’t be his first time working for New York State. He previously served as New York State Education Commissioner.

In his new job, King will be making a salary of $750,000—something Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt thinks is too high.

In a statement Ortt said, “This grossly excessive compensation package is a slap in the face to every hard working New York Family and Student who struggle to afford higher education, and the SUNY Board should immediately reconsider what is very clearly a bad deal for New York Students and taxpayers.”

When asked to share his thoughts about the senator’s comment, King said the SUNY system wants to make sure leadership compensation is competitive with other states.

“Competitive salaries are key to attracting the level of talent we want in our campus leaders and our faculty,” said King. “We have to make sure that we are able to attract the best faculty to our institutions, so I know that is what helped shape the thinking of the board of trustees.”