We must admit, the choice of former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to be the new CEO of the Queens Library took us by surprise.
But Walcott, a Queens native and resident, has experience coming into an organization in turmoil and providing the necessary steady leadership
Walcott became Schools Chancellor after a short, disastrous tenure by Cathie Black. While the two years he was at the helm were not without their controversies, Walcott’s leadership style was rightly praised for bringing a sense of stability and thoughtfulness to the department.
Case in point. Less than a month after Hurricane Sandy, then-Chancellor Walcott joined then-Mayor Bloomberg and other citywide officials at PS 207 in Howard Beach, a school so badly damaged by Sandy, it remained closed for two months after the storm. When he pulled up in front of the school and got out of the car, he was confronted by several angry parents and their children, who felt the city had not provided adequate information on when the school would reopen. In a calm, comforting voice, Walcott explained to the parents the situation and, just like a teacher would, he took the children over to the pumps that were clearing the oil that spilled in the schools’ basement during the storm, and explained how the school was being repaired.
That moment showed the type of collected and thoughtful leadership Walcott brought to the Department of Education. We appreciated the steady hand he brought to the DOE.
Coming out of a scandal that rocked the Queens Library and threatened its funding, a strong, steady leader is needed. We believe Walcott is the person to provide that. We look forward to seeing the Queens Library grow and prosper under Dennis Walcott. We also thank the Borough President for her leadership and wise decisions in revamping the structure and policies of the library.