2016 Virtual Commencement


Mildred García
President, California State University, Fullerton

Mildred García, Ed.D., is President of California State University, Fullerton, the fourth largest university in the state. The university serves almost 39,000 students and has an operating budget of nearly $500 million. The institution is ranked first in California and 10th in the nation in awarding Bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics, as well as fourth in the nation in graduating students of color.

President García previously served as President of California State University Dominguez Hills where, as the first Latina chief executive in the largest system of public higher education in the country, 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, established the Wallis Annenberg Endowed Professor for Innovation in STEM Education, increased alumni donations by 400%, and increased retention rates for first-time full-time freshmen by 10%.

Prior to her arrival at CSU, President García served as the first systemwide chief executive for all six campuses of Berkeley College. In 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.

An educator foremost, President García began her career as a faculty member at a variety of institutions — from Arizona State University to Teachers College, Columbia University — where she built a foundation for her now internationally recognized, student-centered, collaborative, and transparent leadership style. Her passion for fostering increased academic access and success, particularly for underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students, is the cornerstone of the California State University, Fullerton’s strategic plan and the impetus for the institution’s aspiration to become the model public comprehensive university of the nation.

Since her arrival at California State University, Fullerton in 2012, President García has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from Columbia University, Teachers College; the Latina Woman of the Year Award from the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Award from the California Legislative Women’s Caucus; the Business Woman of the Year Award from the National Hispanic Business Women Association; and the Local VIET Heroes Award from the Vietnam Foundation. She is also a highly sought-after speaker as well as an author, academic researcher, and consultant in the policy work of higher education organizations around the world.

Dr. García was appointed to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics by President Barack Obama, the Air University’s Board of Visitors by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and the Committee on Measures of Student Success by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Additionally, she served on the American Council on Education’s Board, and is a founding board member of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. She presently sits on the Board of the Orange County United Way, The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

A first-generation college student, President García earned a Doctor of Education degree and an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Columbia University, Teachers College; an M.A. in Business Education/Higher Education from New York University; a B.S. in Business Education from Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY); and an A.A.S. from New York City Community College.