Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education since 2019, has resigned.
Wednesday afternoon, following an executive session, the newly appointed Utah Board of Higher Education named Deputy Commissioner Geoffrey Landward as interim commissioner pending a nationwide search for Woolstenhulme’s successor.
Landward has been with the Utah System of Higher Education for eight years, most recently as deputy commissioner and secretary to the Utah Board of Higher Education, overseeing several searches for college and university presidents among other duties.
He has extensive executive leadership experience and two decades of legal expertise in administrative law, education law and employment law. Landward is a graduate of the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University.
“Geoff Landward has extensive experience and relationships within Utah’s higher education system and is a trusted leader,” said Amanda Covington, chairwoman of Utah Board of Higher Education.
“We appreciate his willingness to serve in this interim capacity and provide stewardship as we launch a search for the next commissioner. The board is committed to a seamless transition and will continue to work on key objectives as outlined by the governor, the state legislature and our stakeholders. We are focused on student success and ensuring collaboration across the system to support our workforce partners and the broader community. We thank Commissioner Woolstenhulme for his service.”
Woolstenhulme guided the system through consolidation of its degree granting and technical institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic and the renaming of Dixie State University to Utah Tech University, as well a number of searches for new university and college presidents including University of Utah President Taylor Randall and Utah State University President Betsy Cantwell.
Prior to leading the state’s higher education system, Woolstenhulme was vice president of regional campuses at Utah State University. He held several positions at the university earlier in his career and is an alum of USU, where he earned a bachelor degree and a master’s degree as well as a doctorate from the University of Wyoming.
Woolstenhulme, the ninth commissioner of Utah’s System of Higher Education, “has decided to pursue other professional opportunities,” according to a prepared statement.
“It has been a privilege to work alongside Utah’s talented higher education community and those who impact student outcomes,” he said.
“I am proud of our collective accomplishments, including the recent merging of two systems,” which refers to SB111 passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020 that directed public degree granting colleges and universities and technical colleges to merge under a single system.
“We have incredible leaders in each of our institutions and they are fully committed to their respective missions. I am grateful for my time at both the institutional level and the commissioner’s office,” Woolstenhulme said.
Earlier this summer, the Utah Board of Higher Education underwent a wholesale change of board membership.
The 10-member board, which includes one student, succeeded an 18-member board under governance changes required under SB146, which was passed by the Utah Legislature earlier this year.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox retained none of the existing board members, electing to appoint an entirely new slate of members.
Utah previous commissioners of higher education include G. Homer Durham, who served 1969-1976; T.H. Bell, 1976-1981; Arvo Van Alstyne, 1981-1985; Wm. Rolfe Kerr, 1985-1993; Cecelia H. Foxley, 1993-2003; Richard E. Kendell, 2003-2007; William (Bill) A. Sederburg, 2008- 2012; David L. Buhler, 2012- 2019 and Woolstenhulme from 2019 to 2023.