An entrepreneur and engineer who has worked in government and is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame was confirmed Monday as leader of one of the nation's largest public university systems.
The State University of New York Board of Trustees unanimously approved Kristina M. Johnson's appointment as chancellor of the 64-campus system. Johnson will replace Nancy Zimpher, who is stepping down in June after eight years in charge.
SUNY "is a complex, captivating system like no other in higher education, and the opportunity to serve as its chancellor is the highest honor of my career," Johnson, the founder and chief executive of hydroelectric developer Cube Hydro Partners, said in a statement.
She will begin her $560,000-a-year position at SUNY on Sept. 5 as New York begins phasing in a plan to make tuition free for full-time New York students from families with annual incomes of up to $125,000.
Johnson served as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy under President Barack Obama from 2009 to the end of 2010. She has served as Johns Hopkins University provost and dean of the Duke University's engineering school.
In 2008, Johnson received the John Fritz Medal, considered the highest award in engineering. Previous recipients include Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Orville Wright.
Johnson holds 118 patents and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, together with Gary Sharp, in 2015 for her work on 3-D movie and television technologies.
"Dr. Johnson is a proven leader and innovator whose cross-sector experience and strong belief in the power of education will be a great benefit to (SUNY)," Zimpher said.
The SUNY system enrolls 443,000 full- and part-time students across New York.