Contact Form

    News Details

    CSU appoints Mildred García as Chancellor, first Latina to oversee mammoth university system
    • July 12, 2023

    The California State University Board of Trustees announced a new leader to oversee its 23 campuses during its Wednesday, July 12 meeting — putting an end to a year-long search to replace former CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro, who resigned last year amid blowback from allegations that he mishandled sexual harassment complaints against another administrator.

    Mildred García, who currently serves as president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and was formerly president of both CSUs Fullerton and Dominguez Hills, will take over the role on Oct. 1. She’s the first Latina appointed to the prestigious role, according to the announcement.

    The chancellor is responsible for overseeing the mammoth university system, including its 460,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff. She’ll have an annual salary of $795,000, a $96,000 yearly housing stipend, a $1,000 monthly car allowance, and other standard benefits offered to CSU employees, according to a Wednesday board report.

    “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,” García said in a Wednesday announcement, “and its talented and diverse students to further student achievement, close equity gaps and continue to drive California’s economic prosperity.”

    Castro, meanwhile, came under fire in February 2022 amid allegations he failed to properly handle sexual harassment complaints against a former Cal State Fresno administrator, Frank Lamas, while Castro was president of the university.

    Instead of thoroughly investigating multiple complaints of sexual misconduct and other questionable behavior involving Lamas, Castro allowed him to quietly retire.

    Under a settlement agreement Lamas signed on Aug. 31, 2020, he was paid $260,000 and provided a glowing letter of recommendation from Castro. Additionally, the settlement called for Lamas to continue working on special assignment for Castro, remotely, until his official retirement date of Dec 31, 2020. Lamas was allowed to return to the campus only if Castro authorized it.

    Shortly after the settlement was signed, the Board of Trustees appointed Castro to the position of chancellor of the entire CSU system.

    Castro resigned about a month after the allegations surfaced in 2022 — following pushback from dozens of faculty members and staff at Cal State Long Beach and their union, the California Faculty Association, who had circulated a petition calling for the chancellor’s resignation.

    The CSU board appointed Jolene Koester as its interim chancellor in May 2022. She’s held the position for the past year as the board conducted its nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

    García, meanwhile, has an extensive background in public higher education — with her most recent stint as the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ president. That group advocates for federal policy and regulation changes to benefit the interests of 350 colleges and universities throughout the country.

    “During her tenure at AASCU, she restored the financial health of the organization through strategic leadership, bold decision-making and vision,” the press release said. “She directed a strategic agenda that focused on public college and university leadership for the 21st century and provided professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors and their spouses.”

    Before that, Garcia was president of CSUF from 2012 to 2018. There she helped triple philanthropic donations to the school and oversaw record improvements in graduation rates. She held the same role at CSU Dominguez Hills from 2007 to 2012, where she increased student retention rates and and eliminated a structural deficit of $2.8 million, the release said.

    Related Articles

    News |

    New Catholic schools plan to open in Orange County over next few years

    News |

    Students, faculty protest potential CSU tuition hikes, which heads to full board in fall

    News |

    In Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified, a battle brews over proposed charter school

    News |

    CSU system to consider 6% annual tuition hikes to cover a $1.5 billion budget gap

    News |

    CSUF’s Master of Social Work programs get almost $10 million boost

    “García is a highly skilled, dynamic and principled leader who has championed student success —especially for those students from underrepresented communities,” Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong said in the release. “Her optimism, authenticity and courageous leadership will inspire greatness for the (CSU) community as we meet the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead and chart a path toward our great institution’s brightest future.”

    Garcia also previously served as the CEO of Berkeley College, the release said, where she was the first systemwide president for all six campuses in New York and New Jersey.

    She’s also held academic and senior position at myriad other universities, including Arizona State University, Montclair State University, Pennsylvania State University, Columbia University, and others. Garcia was also previously appointed by former President Barack Obama and the U.S. Secretary of Education, the release said, to serve on multiple federal advisory boards.

    Sign up for The Localist, our daily email newsletter with handpicked stories relevant to where you live. Subscribe here.

    ​ Orange County Register