By Sergio Mercado
The CSU Board of Trustees has appointed Mildred García to serve as chancellor to the CSU beginning Oct. 1, 2023.
This comes after a search process initiated earlier this year for the replacement to Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester. Koester served as interim chancellor after previous Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned following fallout from mishandling of several complaints of harassment, bullying and retaliation against a university official during his term as president of Fresno State.
The search process was conducted by two committees made up of different stakeholder representatives to the CSU, as previously reported by The CI View. A series of meetings for students, staff, faculty and other stakeholders to voice their concerns and opinions on the selection of a chancellor were held early in the search process. The official appointee was announced in the July 2023 Board of Trustees meeting. Wenda Fong, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said during the meeting, “In our eleventh chancellor, the CSU has an extraordinarily skilled, dedicated and principled leader who has devoted her professional life to advancing the core values of our university system.”
As the first person in her family to earn a degree, García understands the importance of the social mobility the CSU can provide its students. In her introduction to the Board of Trustees, she recounted a phrase her parents would tell her as she grew up, “‘The only inheritance a poor family can leave its children is a good education.’ I live by that today and have worked my entire career to help all who enter our doors reach their highest potential.”
García’s appointment as chancellor marks the first time a Latina will lead the CSU system. She earned an associate degree from New York City Community College before going on to earn her bachelor’s in business education from Bernard M. Baruch College, a master’s in business education from New York University as well as a master’s and a doctorate in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Currently, García serves as the president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Her record as a leader in the CSU includes serving as president of CSU Dominguez Hills from 2007 to 2012 and president of CSU Fullerton from 2012 to 2018. She has also served in several leadership positions in higher education, and she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on multiple advisory boards.
Taking the position of Chancellor, García will have to tackle a myriad of issues facing the CSU. This includes difficulties in reaching enrollment goals and graduation rates as well as campus and system-wide budget issues. CSU faculty, staff and students have also voiced dissatisfaction with the CSU system’s handling of sexual assault claims, employee pay and a recently passed 6% tuition hike that would raise tuition yearly until the 2028-29 school year at least.
Nevertheless, Fong and Koester expressed their confidence in García’s aptitude to lead the CSU. “Millie, I’ve known you for a lot of years,” Koester said, “I’ve known you long enough and in a number of different settings sufficiently to know that you possess the experience, the qualities and the skills in abundance to take on this important role.”