WICHE Chair Michael Rush, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents, announced on Nov. 10 that the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has selected Colorado Lt. Gov. Joseph A. Garcia as WICHE’s new president, succeeding David A. Longanecker who plans to retire in July 2016. Garcia currently also serves in the dual role as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and as the second in command to Gov. John Hickenlooper. Before he was inaugurated as lieutenant governor in 2011, Garcia was president of Colorado State University – Pueblo. During his four-year tenure there he helped overcome financial difficulties and stagnant enrollment and he enhanced the institution’s reputation through aggressive marketing and non-traditional solutions. Lt. Gov. Garcia earlier served as president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pikes Peak Community College. He also served as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Representative for the Rocky Mountain States; Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; and was named the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the law firm, Holme Roberts & Owen.
Rush also acknowledged the successful stewardship of Longanecker over the past 16 years, saying “David’s insights and leadership have put a permanent positive stamp on higher education in this country and beyond. He has accomplished this through his willingness to lead where others have shied away, his commitment to helping states wrestle with tough problems, his wisdom, his tireless and generous use of time for constant travel and just-in time problem solving, and his unflappable good humor and ability to put people from all political persuasions at ease. He leaves an organization that is well respected, on sound financial footing, and positioned for continued effective leadership in higher education.”