The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

California State University system names its first Latina chancellor

Mildred García will take office as chancellor of the 23-campus system in October

Mildred García has been named the 11th chancellor of the California State University system. (Courtesy of California State University)
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California State University announced Wednesday that Mildred García will become its next chancellor, the first Latina to lead the nation’s largest public university system.

García, who has been president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities since 2018, previously served for nearly 12 years as president of two campuses in the California State system — first in Dominguez Hills and then in Fullerton.

In all, the system has 23 campuses, from San Diego in the south to Humboldt in the far north, and nearly 460,000 students. It awards about 130,000 degrees a year. Nearly 40 percent of its undergraduates transfer from California community colleges.

“It’s a consequential system,” García said in a telephone interview. “I think Cal State could be a leader in the nation in how we become an educational laboratory.” She said she wants to focus on ensuring solid funding for the system and growing public awareness of the importance of higher education.

“As you well know, the public has lost some confidence,” she said. “We’re not telling our story.”

García, who is the daughter of Puerto Ricans, was the first in her family to obtain a college degree. She holds an associate’s degree from a New York community college, a bachelor’s in business education from Bernard M. Baruch College in the City University of New York system, and a master’s in business education from New York University. She also holds a master’s and doctorate in higher education administration from Teachers College at Columbia University.

“When you educate a first-generation, low-income person of color … you are transforming a family," García said. “And I can speak from experience. That’s me. Public higher ed was my foundation.”

She starts on Oct. 1, succeeding the interim chancellor, Jolene Koester. In early 2022, Joseph I. Castro resigned as chancellor amid allegations that he had mishandled sexual misconduct complaints leveled against a colleague when Castro was president of Fresno State University.