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USHE appoints Dave R. Woolstenhulme as Commissioner of Higher Education

07/01/2020 | Press Release

USHE appoints Dave R. Woolstenhulme as Commissioner of Higher Education

Chairman, President and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, Harris H. Simmons, to chair the Utah Board of Higher Education

Salt Lake City – At its first meeting today, the Utah Board of Higher Education appointed Dave R. Woolstenhulme as Commissioner of Higher Education. Commissioner Woolstenhulme has been serving as Interim Commissioner for the Utah System of Higher Education for the past year. Previously, he served as Utah Commissioner of Technical Education and as Vice President of Statewide Campuses at Utah State University.

During its 2020 session, the Utah Legislature passed S.B. 111, Higher Education Amendments—a sweeping change to higher education structure and governance that merges the Utah System of Higher Education and the Utah System of Technical Colleges, creating a joint Utah System of Higher Education, overseen by one governing Board, the Utah Board of Higher Education. The new Utah Board of Higher Education will be comprised of 18 members, including two student members. The unified Utah System of Higher Education will be made up of 16 institutions, including eight technical colleges, two community colleges, four regional universities, and two research universities.

“I have had the great pleasure of serving as Interim Commissioner of Higher Education over the last year, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working with the Board, System presidents and state leaders in this capacity to ensure higher education is accessible, affordable and meaningful for all Utahns,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Commissioner of Higher Education. “With our newly combined System, we have a unique opportunity to help students identify and succeed in their higher education pathway, whether that be at a technical college, a degree-granting institution, or a combination of the two.”

The Utah Board of Higher Education also selected Harris H. Simmons, Chairman, President and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, as its chair. Nina Barnes and Aaron V. Osmond were both elected to serve as vice chairs of the Board.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Woolstenhulme and his staff, along with our 16 institutions, to address the needs of our students and of our System,” said Harris H. Simmons, Chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education. “With Utah’s new postsecondary governance structure, we have an incredible opportunity to collaborate like never before, and to find alignments, pathways, and efficiencies across the System. I look forward to working with the Board and with Commissioner Woolstenhulme toward a seamless, high-quality higher education system in our state—one that works for students from all walks of life.”

During Commissioner Woolstenhulme’s year as interim commissioner, he oversaw the launch of the Utah Transfer Guide and the implementation of the first need-based scholarship in the State of Utah. Under his leadership, his office made significant progress in the areas of student safety and K-20 alignment, and most recently oversaw the coordination of public higher education reopening plans for the fall in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, Commissioner Woolstenhulme has reorganized the System office to better align with the structure of the new Board. New positions in the areas of technical education, workforce development and industry engagement, P-20 initiatives, diversity and inclusion, and others were created.

In addition to his time at Utah State University as Vice President of Statewide Campuses and as Utah Commissioner of Technical Education, he also served as Executive Vice Provost at USU, as well as the President of Uintah Basin Applied Technology College. Commissioner Woolstenhulme received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University, and his Doctorate of Education from the University of Wyoming.