Executive Directors of Higher Education

Dr. Frank C. Abbott (November, 1965 – December, 1976)
The first Executive Director of CCHE, Dr. Abbott was instrumental in the planning and creation of Auraria Higher Education Center. By the early 1960's it had become obvious that a public higher education facility was needed in the Denver area. As a result, the legislature created Metropolitan State College in 1963 and the Community College of Denver in 1967 to help satisfy this need. They were followed shortly in 1973 when CU's Extension Center in downtown Denver was converted into a branch campus of the University and renamed the University of Colorado at Denver.  Dr. Abbott resigned as Executive Director of CCHE in November of 1976 for a position with the New York State Education Department as Assistant Commissioner for the Professions.

Interim E.D. - Dr. Eugene H. Wilson (December, 1976 – June, 1977)

Interim E.D. - Dr. Jerome F. Wartgow (July, 1977 – August, 1977)

Dr. Lee R. Kerschner (September, 1977 – May, 1983)
Dr. Kerschner has held various positions with the California State University system, including faculty member in political science, statewide dean of faculty and increasingly responsible positions culminating in appointment as vice chancellor for administrative affairs.  Dr. Kerschner holds a Ph.D. in political science from Georgetown University, an M.A. in international relations from The John Hopkins University and a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University.  Dr. Kerschner resigned as Executive Director of CCHE to become Executive Director of the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools.

Interim E.D. - Dr. Charles W. Manning (June, 1983 – April, 1984)
Dr. Manning was the Deputy Executive Director from 1979 – 1988.

Dr. Blenda Wilson (April, 1984 – June, 1988)
Dr. Wilson served as senior associate dean at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education from1972 to 1982, and was the youngest dean ever at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Dr. Wilson started her career in higher education administration at Rutgers University in 1969, after earning her Ph.D. She then spent 2 years as the First Vice President for Effective Sector Management at Independent Sector, a nonpartisan coalition of approximately 600 organizations that leads, strengthens, and mobilizes the charitable community.  Dr. Wilson resigned as Executive Director of CCHE in 1984 to become Chancellor of the University of Michigan – Dearborn.

Dr. David A. Longanecker (June, 1988 – April, 1993)
Dr. Longanecker was the former state higher education officer (SHEEO) in Colorado and Minnesota and was also the principal analyst for higher education for the Congressional Budget Office.  Dr. Longanecker holds an Ed.D from Stanford University, an M.A. in student personnel work from George Washington University, and a B.A. in sociology from Washington State University.  Dr. Longanecker resigned as the Executive Director of CCHE to become the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education under President Clinton.

Interim E.D. - Robert Moore (May, 1993 – February, 1994)
Mr. Moore was the Deputy Executive Director from 1988 – 1994.

Dwayne C. Nuzum (February, 1994 – January, 1999)
Dr. Nuzum was a Boulder, CO native, and earned architecture degrees from the University of Colorado, MIT, and a university in the Netherlands, where he attended on a Fullbright scholarship. His 38 year career with the University of Colorado began as a professor, and included service as Dean of the School of Environmental Design in Boulder, and Chancellor of the Colorado Springs and Denver campuses. In the 1960's he was a Boulder city councilman.  Dr. Nuzum was a talented painter and his acrylic paintings of architectural icons are sold in a Denver gallery. Dr. Nuzum resigned as the Executive Director of CCHE in 1999 to teach a graduate design course at the University of Colorado at Denver School of Architecture.

Tim Foster (January, 1999 – December, 2004)
Mr. Foster was initially appointed to the position of Executive Director by Governor Owens in 1999 and reappointed in 2003.  Prior to his appointment, Mr. Foster was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1988 and served as the Majority Leader for four sessions, from 1993 to 1996.  During that time, Mr. Foster was also a partner in the general practice law firm of Foster, Larson, Laiche and Griff in Grand Junction.  Mr. Foster earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from Kenyon College in 1980. He completed graduate coursework for a master's degree in mineral economics at the Colorado School of Mines from 1982 to 1984. Mr. Foster also earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver - College of Law in 1984. Mr. Foster resigned from his position as Executive Director of CCHE to become President of Mesa State College.

Ray Baker (January 2004)
Mr. Baker was a Commissioner from 2000 to 2008.

Richard O'Donnell (January, 2004 – March, 2006)
Prior to serving as the Executive Director of CCHE, Mr. O’Donnell served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, where he oversaw more than 500,000 licensed professionals in the banking, insurance, securities, telecommunications, and energy industries. While at the Department, he established the Office of Economic Competitiveness and Regulatory Reform that helps the private sector keep track of regulations via the Internet and get involved in the regulatory process; this system is  the first of its kind in the nation.

Jenna Langer (March, 2006 – December, 2006)
Ms. Langer was the Deputy Executive Director from 2004 – 2006.

David E. Skaggs (January, 2007 – September, 2009)
Prior to his appointment as the Executive Director of CCHE by Governor Ritter, Congressman Skaggs was Executive Director of the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government and taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado. These positions followed his twelve years of service in Congress as a U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District of Colorado and three terms in the Colorado House, the last two terms as Minority Leader. While serving as a U.S. Representative, Congressman Skaggs served eight years on the House Appropriations Committee and six years on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Mr. Skaggs is a veteran of the Vietnam War and a former judge advocate in the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Major.

Interim E.D. - Inta Morris (October, 2009 – November, 2009)
Ms. Morris was the Assistant Director Interdepartmental & External Affairs from 2007 – Present.

D. Rico Munn (November, 2009 – January, 2011)
Prior to his appointment as the Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education by Governor Ritter, Mr. Munn served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies ("DORA"). Mr. Munn holds a degree in Secondary Education and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  Prior to joining the Ritter administration, Mr. Munn was a corporate and commercial litigation partner with a national law firm.  In 2002, Mr. Munn was elected to represent Colorado's First Congressional District on the State Board of Education where he served until 2007.  On the State Board of Education, he focused on closing Colorado’s academic achievement gap, addressing concurrent enrollment in high school and higher education, and improving readiness for post secondary education.  

Lt. Governor Joseph A. Garcia (January, 2011 – Present)
Prior to his appointment by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2011, Mr. Garcia worked as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and energized the campus by considering nontraditional solutions to longstanding issues. While there, he helped the school overcome stagnant enrollment, a mediocre reputation and financial difficulties. Before he worked at CSU-Pueblo, Mr. Garcia was president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pike’s Peak Community College. There, he oversaw three campuses that serve more than 16,000 students annually. He earlier worked for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies as the Executive Director. Mr. Garcia was appointed to this position by Governor Roy Romer. Mr. Garcia earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.