City education officials yesterday appointed a fresh-faced 27-year-old — who graduated from college just in 2007 — as the chief operating officer of the nation’s largest school system.
Andrew Buher, a graduate of New Jersey’s Rider University, has had a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the 135,000-employee Department of Education since he was hired in September 2010 as a “special assistant.”
Since then, in just 30 months, the political-science and public-policy major has more than doubled his salary — from $75,000 to $152,000 — while working his way up to chief of staff to the chancellor.
With his appointment as COO, Buher will be getting his fourth raise in fewer than three years — though a DOE spokeswoman said the size of his salary bump has yet to be determined.
But Buher’s predecessor as COO, Veronica Conforme, earned $202,000.
“Andrew’s experience managing key operations, his deep knowledge of the system and his commitment to driving solutions that work for students make him the ideal person to serve as our chief operating officer,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said of the young third-year staffer.
Buher echoed Walcott’s enthusiasm. “I am excited and honored by this opportunity,” he said.
Buher grew up in Lawrence, NJ, and briefly attended Tulane University in New Orleans until returning home following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
As a senior at Rider, Buher became the first student from the college to receive a presidential fellowship from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, DC.
He also interned as a policy adviser in the office of then-NJ Gov. Jon Corzine.
He worked with several charter schools in New York City before earning a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Columbia in 2010.
Last year, he got married to Caroline Burns — also a New Jersey native and Columbia graduate, who works in physical therapy.
“Andrew was someone who carried himself with a degree of professionalism; he was always in business attire or, at the least, business casual,” said Jesse Forsythe, who was Buher’s teammate at Rider University’s mock-United Nations group.
“He was looked to as the guy who could handle the situation.”
Conforme, Buher’s predecessor, is leaving to become a vice president at the College Board.
She had worked at the DOE for eight years — including as chief financial officer and deputy chief schools officer for operations — before being appointed COO in 2011.
Also yesterday, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg was tapped to be senior deputy chancellor for strategy and policy.