Lt. Gov. Garcia resigns for regional higher education post
DENVER — Colorado’s lieutenant governor announced Tuesday he is leaving his post to run a higher education commission in the West.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia will serve as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which has 16 member states, including California, Alaska, Montana, and New Mexico. The group is headquartered in Boulder.
“This was a difficult decision, but education has always been my passion,” Garcia said in a statement. Before he was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, he was president of Colorado State University-Pueblo. “I look forward to carrying the message of opportunity, college completion and workforce development throughout the West.”
Hickenlooper will name a replacement, who must be confirmed by both chambers of the Legislature. The governor gave no timetable for naming a replacement.
While lieutenant governor, Garcia also served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The state Senate will have to confirm the appointment of whomever Hickenlooper selects for that role.
“Joe will be nearly impossible to replace,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “He has been an exceptional lieutenant governor and in leading education efforts for Colorado. He has given five years selflessly to the success of this state and the future education of our children. We are grateful and wish him continued success.”
Part of the mission of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education is to share resources and pursue policy initiatives that can benefit member states. A date has not been set for when Garcia will begin his new job.
Before his career in politics, Garcia also served as president of Pikes Peak Community College and as executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.
“Joe Garcia has simply been a tremendous asset to Colorado,” said House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Democrat from Boulder. “I have no doubt that his record of exemplary service will continue at WICHE, which has been finding regional solutions to higher education issues for more than 60 years.”
Garcia attended Harvard Law School, where he earned a juris doctorate, and before that he graduated from the University of Colorado with a business degree.
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