Making history: Mildred García becomes first Latina chancellor of CSU system

Mildred García, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, was named Wednesday the next chancellor of the Long Beach-based California State University, making her the first Latina to lead the 23-campus system.

García previously served as president of Cal State Fullerton from 2012- 18 and of Cal State Dominguez Hills from 2007-12.

"The California State University is a powerful engine of change and upward mobility for California and the nation, supporting hundreds of thousands of students in achieving their educational, career and personal aspirations," García said in a statement. "I am honored, humbled and excited for this opportunity to serve the nation's largest four-year university system and work alongside its dedicated leaders, faculty and staff, and its talented and diverse students to further student achievement, close equity gaps and continue to drive California's economic prosperity."

She succeeds Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester, who took over the CSU system in May 2022 following the resignation of Joseph I. Castro over allegations he mishandled a sexual harassment case while he was president of Fresno State University.

"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 CSU Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "Her optimism, authenticity and courageous leadership will inspire greatness for the California State University community as we meet the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead and chart a path toward our great institution's brightest future."

The Board of Trustees announced García's hiring during its meeting in Long Beach Wednesday morning. García will take over as chancellor on Oct. 1.

Prior to joining the CSU, García was CEO of Berkeley College, overseeing a six-campus system in New York and New Jersey. She has also held academic and executive 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.

She was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on boards including the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and by the U.S. Secretary of Education to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success.

García was the first member of her family to earn a college degree. She received an associate degree from New York City Community College, a bachelor's degree in business education from Bernard M. Baruch College and a master's degree in business education from New York University. She also received a master's and a doctorate in higher education administration at Teachers College, Columbia University.