Cal State system names new chancellor

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Dive Brief:

  • Mildred García, an influential higher education administrator, Wednesday was named the new chancellor of California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public higher education system. 
  • García is currently president and CEO of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the leading higher ed group representing nearly 400 institutions. She formerly served as president of Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State Fullerton.
  • She will be the first Latina to helm the 23-campus system when she starts Oct. 1, Cal State officials said. García will be taking over at a trying time for the system, as it grapples with a $1.5 billion budget deficit and sexual misconduct controversies.

Dive Insight:

Cal State is prominent in the higher education landscape — partially because of its size, enrolling nearly ​458,000 students in fall 2022. But it’s also known for its work in social mobility and affordability, and it stood out as having a clearheaded strategy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lately, though, the system has been mired in scandal. 

García’s predecessor, Joseph Castro, last year resigned after coming under fire for bungling sexual harassment complaints against a Fresno State University official while Castro was president there. 

A third-party audit, ordered by trustees, this year revealed inconsistencies in how Cal State campuses addressed sexual violence and showed they sometimes lacked resources to do so properly.

Further, the system is contending with a $1.5 billion budget deficit and is mulling over an annual 6% tuition hike, through spring 2029, that college access advocates argue would undercut its affordable pricing model.

Despite these woes, Cal State officials expressed optimism over García’s appointment.

“Dr. García is a highly skilled, dynamic and principled leader who has championed student success — especially for those students from underrepresented communities — throughout her long and distinguished career in public higher education,” Wenda Fong, chair of the Cal State trustee board, said in a statement.

In addition to taking on high-level positions at several colleges nationwide, including Berkeley College, in New York and New Jersey, García was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on federal advisory boards, such as the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.


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