Utah Board of Higher Education appoints Geoffrey T. Landward as Commissioner of Higher Education

Headshot of Geoffrey Landward

The Utah Board of Higher Education unanimously named Geoffrey T. Landward Commissioner of Higher Education at its meeting today. Commissioner Landward has served as interim commissioner since Sept. 2023. Previously, he served as deputy commissioner and secretary to the Utah Board of Higher Education. 

“In Commissioner Landward’s eight years with the Utah System of Higher Education, he has shown a strong commitment to the success of our colleges and universities; their students, faculty and staff; and the state of Utah,” said Amanda Covington, Utah Board of Higher Education chair. “His exceptional work, especially during the 2024 legislative session, along with his statewide relationships, make him the right leader for this role. Our decision to appoint Commissioner Landward underscores our confidence in his ability to lead the System with vision, collaboration and effectiveness into the future.”

“Geoff Landward has demonstrated an ability to navigate the complexities of higher education in Utah over the last several months as interim, and he is well positioned to fully take on the role of commissioner,” said Gov. Spencer J. Cox. “With his leadership, we can anticipate innovative strategies and collaborative efforts that will elevate the quality and accessibility of higher education for all Utahns. Congratulations to Commissioner Landward on his appointment.”

In his six months as interim, Commissioner Landward has provided state-level leadership on higher education issues, including establishing legislative strategies, navigating the budget landscape, and advocating for the value of higher education locally and nationally. He’s supported the Board of Higher Education, institutional presidents, and trustees while advancing strategic priorities through policies and partnerships. He has additionally ensured effective operations for the System and Office of the Commissioner, while closely coordinating with the Governor’s Office.

“I am deeply honored and grateful that the Utah Board of Higher Education has placed their confidence in me to lead the Utah System of Higher Education,” said Landward. “While the unprecedented challenges facing higher education are significant and daunting, I am optimistic and confident about its future because of the character and commitment of those who serve in our campus communities. Higher education has the capacity to drastically improve the lives of Utah’s students, and I am thrilled to contribute toward their success.”

“This is a great appointment for the Utah System of Higher Education,” said Utah State Senator Ann Millner. “Geoffrey Landward possesses a deep understanding of higher education and the state and has proven he has the skills to move the system forward in remarkable ways. I look forward to working with Commissioner Landward in the future.”

In addition to over a decade of public policy work, Commissioner Landward has extensive executive leadership experience and 20 years of legal expertise in administrative law, education law, and employment law. He is a graduate of the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University.

“For nearly a decade, I’ve witnessed firsthand Geoff Landward’s ability to lead with integrity and ingenuity, earning the respect and trust of colleagues across the state,” said Rep. Karen Peterson. “Commissioner Landward is someone I know can advance higher education to ensure it is meeting the needs of students and our state.”

The Board determined not to conduct a national search after closely collaborating with Landward as interim commissioner on a number of statewide initiatives over the past several months. This collaboration deepened the Board’s confidence in Landward’s leadership and capabilities. Even still, Commissioner Landward underwent a thorough leadership vetting process, including interviews with stakeholders across the System.

This appointment is subject to the approval of the Governor and the advice and consent of the Senate.

Previous commissioners of higher education: G. Homer Durham (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 Dave R. Woolstenhulme (2019-2023).

Media Inquiries

Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director