Betty Rosa can drop the interim from her title after the Board of Regents on Monday unanimously voted to appoint her permanent state education commissioner.
Rosa, who has led the state Education Department since August as the interim commissioner, previously served on the Board of Regents for a dozen years, rising to be elected chancellor in 2016, the presiding officer of the Regents, placing her at the center of state education policy in recent years.
The commissioner role, which ultimately reports to the Regents, is more directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the department and development and implementation of statewide education policy. Rosa, who was born in New York City but spent much of her childhood in Puerto Rico, will become the first Latina woman to serve in the position.
Board members involved in Rosa’s selection highlighted that they had conducted a comprehensive search process, interviewing other candidates for the position, but decided Rosa was best suited to lead the department. They highlighted her extensive experience as a New York educator and her intimate familiarity with the Regents and the Education Department.
“She will establish an ease in transitioning into the role, she is already there,” said Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown, whose last meeting on the board was Monday. “We will have someone we can trust, someone we already know, and importantly, someone who will hear the voices of those who are the least likely to speak up.”
Before taking charge of the department in August, Rosa was in her fourth year leading the Regents as chancellor, a position she was elected to by other Regents in March 2016. She was first approved to the Board of Regents in 2008, serving as the Regent from Bronx County, subsequently earning a second and third term on the board.
Before advancing to the Board of Regents, Rosa worked as a longtime educator in New York City, where she started her career as a bilingual paraprofessional and eventually served as a teacher, school leader and district administrator with over 30 years of experience.
After earning the support of her former colleague on the board, Rosa said that the state’s education system was at a turning point and called for viewing investments in education as a path to recovering from the pandemic and the challenges education faced even before the pandemic.
“I submit that investing in education is foundational to our recovery and the future of our state and our nation,” Rosa said as she accepted the permanent position. “We must also ignite a renaissance, a rebirth.”
But she didn’t want to dwell on her formal appointment to the position.
“Now, let’s get to work,” she said after thanking the Regents for their support.