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Dr. Garcia delivering her address at the Inauguration of CSUDH when she was President. Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)
Dr. Garcia delivering her address at the Inauguration of CSUDH when she was President. Photo by Scott Varley/Digital First Media/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

Mildred Garcia to become first Latina to lead California State University

The longtime educator and Brooklyn native is now the Chancellor-designate of the largest four-year university system.

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The California State University system picked esteemed Puerto Rican educator and Brooklyn native Mildred Garcia as its next chancellor. 

Garcia will be the first Latina to oversee all 23 campuses of the nation’s largest four-year university system and will be the schools 11th chancellor. She will take over in October.

She will succeed interim Chancellor Jolene Koester, who has served since May 2022, following a public scandal with former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro. 

“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,” García said in a statement. 

Garcia is currently the President of the The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), an organization of state-supported colleges and universities that offer degree programs leading to bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees.

The CSU system is ranked among the most diverse in the country with over 457,000 students enrolled in fall 2022 and nearly 130,000 annual graduates. They are California’s largest producer of bachelor’s degrees.

“Dr. García is a highly-skilled, dynamic and principled leader who has championed student success—especially for those students from underrepresented communities,” Wenda Fong, chair of the CSU board of trustees, said in a statement.

Garcia was previously president of Cal State Fullerton from 2012 to 2018 and was notable for producing record numbers in graduation rates and nearly tripling philanthropic gift commitments, according to CSU's statement. 

She was also the first Latina president of CSU Dominguez Hills, from 2007 to 2012, where Garcia was recognized for increasing retention rates for freshman and transfer students and eliminating a $2.8 million structural deficit.

Born and raised in New York City to parents who came from Puerto Rico, she became the first in her family to earn a college degree when she first earned an associate degree from New York City Community College, then a bachelor’s in business education from Baruch College and a master’s in business education from New York University. 

She later attended Teachers College, Columbia University, where she earned a master’s and a doctorate in higher education administration. Garcia was also part of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics under the Obama Administration. 

She has also held academic posts at several institutions including Arizona State University, Montclair State University, Pennsylvania State University, Teachers College, Columbia University, and at the Hostos, LaGuardia, and City Colleges of City University of New York.

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