Dr. David L. Buhler announced Tuesday his decision to conclude his service as Utah’s Commissioner of Higher Education effective December 31, 2019. The Board of Regents will commence a national search in the spring. His announcement now will allow time for a thorough search and a smooth transition.
“Late last week, I shared my decision with the Board of Regents,” said Buhler. “Serving as Commissioner has been the professional opportunity of a lifetime. After more than 19 years in the Utah System of Higher Education, over seven of those as Commissioner, my family and I concluded it’s time to begin a new chapter in our lives. I believe change is good for organizations and individuals, and I am looking forward to returning to teaching at the University of Utah in 2020. It was important to me to share my decision as soon as possible.”
Buhler is focused on achieving a number of priorities this year aimed at furthering higher education in Utah.
“First, I look forward to advancing the priorities of the Board of Regents and USHE institutions with the Utah Legislature,” he said. “Funding access for all students, meeting critical workforce needs, and helping more students successfully complete college are critical to our state’s future. Utah has an opportunity to be the first state in the nation to place a college access advisor in every high school to help more students reach their higher education goals. By repurposing funds, we will increase the number of high schools with these access advisors this year from 12 to 33. If the legislature funds the initiative this session, there will be a college access advisor for every Utah high school within three years. I am also very committed to actively participating in the state’s Higher Education Strategic Planning Commission, which is expected to complete its work in November 2019.”
Board Chair Harris H. Simmons said, “The Board of Regents joins me in warmly thanking Commissioner Buhler for his superb service to Utah higher education. Under his leadership, the Board adopted a strategic plan in 2016, which articulated our priorities of affordable access, timely completion, research and workforce, and growth and capacity. His leadership has also been evident as the Board has selected ten outstanding institutional presidents with his assistance, including four within the past year. We appreciate Commissioner Buhler’s thoughtfulness in providing us sufficient time to conduct a thorough search for his successor after the conclusion of the legislative session and to allow for a smooth transition. We look forward to continuing to work closely with him between now and December.”
University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins noted, “It has been a privilege to work with Commissioner Buhler. His constant focus has been on the advancement of individuals and our state through increasing access to higher education, and working closely with both regents and presidents to identify and implement strategies that increase completion. His work as a higher education leader has improved individual lives and advanced the collective good.”
Dr. Matthew S. Holland, who served as President of Utah Valley University from 2009 to 2018, stated, “There are very few who match Dave’s intimate knowledge of, commitment to, and impact on higher education in Utah. We are fortunate to have had his great abilities and passion at work for our colleges and universities for so long. Given the importance of those institutions, he is a public servant who leaves a tremendous mark.”
Buhler serves on the executive committees of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), and the board of the National Association of System Heads (NASH). He was named Utah’s eighth Commissioner of Higher Education in June 2012, after serving as an Associate Commissioner for 12 years. He taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Utah from 1990 to 2006, and served as a Utah State Senator from 1995 to 1999. He was a Salt Lake City Council Member from 2000 to 2008. A Salt Lake City native, Buhler earned a PhD. in political science from the University of Utah. He and his wife, Lori, are the parents of five children and have two grandchildren.