Washington, D.C.—Dr. Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton, has been appointed president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The announcement was made today by Dana Hoyt, president of Sam Houston State University (Texas), and 2017-2018 chair of the AASCU Board of Directors.
“Mildred García’s selection reflects the effectiveness of her leadership in higher education throughout her career,” said Hoyt.
“She has a strong commitment to AASCU institutions and understands their distinctive mission. We believe she is uniquely positioned to lead AASCU as public higher education confronts some of its most formidable challenges of the 21st century.”
García has served as president of California State University, Fullerton—the most populated university in the CSU and the third largest university in the state—since 2012. Under her leadership, the university has seen a 30 percent improvement in six-year graduation rates and a 65 percent improvement in four-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen—both university records; the achievement gap was eliminated for transfer students and cut in half for first-time freshmen; and annual gift commitments nearly tripled (from $8.5 million to $22 million). The institution is now number one in California and second in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics, as well as sixth in the nation in graduating students of color.
"I am deeply honored, humbled and excited to lead AASCU, an organization that represents students from all walks of life at 400 state colleges and universities,” García said. “Cal State Fullerton is one of those universities, and my experience working alongside its incredible faculty, staff and students corroborates what all the recent research shows: State colleges and universities are the preeminent paths to upward mobility in this country, and it is a privilege to now represent so many diverse and academically excellent institutions.”
García previously served as president of CSU Dominguez Hills and became the first Latina president in the largest system of public higher education in the country. Prior to her arrival in the CSU, García served as the CEO of Berkeley College, where she was the first system-wide president for all six campuses. She has held both academic and senior level positions at Arizona State University; Montclair State University; Pennsylvania State University; Teachers College, Columbia University; and the Hostos, LaGuardia, and City Colleges of the City University of New York.
“This was a highly competitive search that drew the professional interest of exceptional individuals, each with deep understanding of public higher education and wide experience in leadership,” said Deborah Stanley, president of the State University of New York Oswego, and 2016-2017 chair of the AASCU Board of Directors and the presidential search committee.
“It is clear that the important work of AASCU is valued by our member institutions and that Millie García emerged as the person we believe will be a distinctive and effective leader for the future.”
A recipient of myriad awards—from the American Council on Education’s Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award to being named a Distinguished Alumni Honoree of Columbia University—García was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; the U.S. Secretary of Defense to serve on Air University's Board of Visitors; and the U.S. Secretary of Education to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success. She presently sits on a variety of local and national boards including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Board of Trustees.
García’s leadership with AASCU includes chairing the AASCU Council of State Representatives; serving on the AASCU Board of Directors; chairing the Committee on International Education; serving as a Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute mentor; delivering the Marie McDemmond Lecture and the President-to-Presidents lecture, a tradition at the AASCU Annual Meeting for more than 30 years and a signal honor given by the AASCU Board of Directors to one of their colleagues.
A first-generation college student, President García earned a Doctor of Education degree and a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Columbia University, Teachers College; a M.A. in Business Education/Higher Education from New York University; a B.S. in Business Education from Baruch College, City University of New York; and an A.A.S. from New York City Community College.
García will be the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington D.C. She will assume the AASCU presidency on January 22, 2018.
García will succeed Muriel A. Howard, who has been president of AASCU since 2009.
AASCU is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.