Mildred García


California State University System
Mildred Garcia

Mildred García began her tenure as the California State University’s (CSU’s) 11th chancellor on October 1, 2023. She is the first-ever Latina to lead not only the nation’s largest and most diverse four-year public university system, but the first to lead any four-year public university system. Serving approximately 450,000 students across 23 universities, the CSU is renowned as a powerful driver of social mobility and the pipeline for California’s diverse and highly educated workforce.

Prior to her appointment as CSU chancellor, she served as president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) since 2018, where she was an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses. She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining AASCU, García served as the president of California State University, Fullerton—the largest university in the CSU and the third largest university in the state, serving over 40,000 students and having an operating budget of almost half a billion dollars. Under her leadership, the university saw a 30% improvement in six-year graduation rates and a 65% improvement in four-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen—both university records. The achievement gap was eliminated for transfer students and cut in half for first-time freshmen, and annual gift commitments nearly tripled (from $8.5 million to $22 million). In 2016, for the first time in history, U.S. News & World Report heralded the institution as a top “national university,” rather than “top regional university,” the far narrower category in which it had previously been ranked.

García previously served as president of California State University, Dominguez Hills where, as the CSU’s first Latina president, she eliminated a structural deficit of $2.8 million, increased media placement by 192%, received the highest reaccreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, exceeded enrollment targets not met for the previous eight years, increased donor giving by 140%, and increased retention rates for first-time full-time freshmen by 10%.

Before her arrival at the CSU, García served as the CEO of Berkeley College (NJ and NY), where she was the first systemwide president for all six campuses. During her six-year tenure, she increased enrollment by 25%; established professional advisory boards for academic programs; implemented the institution’s first systemwide strategic planning process; and purchased property and opened a new campus in Newark, New Jersey, as well as a residence hall in White Plains, New York.

She has held both academic and senior-level positions at Arizona State University; Montclair State University (NJ); Pennsylvania State University; Teachers College, Columbia University (NY); and the Hostos, LaGuardia, and City Colleges of the City University of New York. García is also a much sought-after speaker at national and international conferences and an academic researcher who has published numerous academic journal articles and books.

A recipient of myriad awards—from the American Council of Education’s Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award to being named a Distinguished Alumni Honoree of Columbia University—García was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; the U.S. Secretary of Defense to serve on Air University’s Board of Visitors; and the U.S. Secretary of Education to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success. She presently sits on a variety of local and national boards, including ETS, PBS, College Track, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and the International Association of University Presidents. The Washingtonian selected her as one of the 250 Most Influential People in Washington for 2021 and 2022.

A first-generation college student, García earned a Doctor of Education and a Master of Arts in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University; a Master of Arts in business education/higher education from New York University; a Bachelor of Science in business education from Baruch College, City University of New York; and an associate degree from New York City Community College.