Executive Directors of Higher Education Timeline


Dr. Dan Baer (June 2018-January 2019)

Dan Baer was appointed executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education by Governor John Hickenlooper, assuming the role on June 8, 2018. An accomplished advocate for human rights and democracy, he is a diplomat in residence at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Prior to joining the Department, Baer served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from 2013 to 2017. He previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2009-2013. Baer was an assistant professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, a Faculty Fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics and a project leader at The Boston Consulting Group.

Baer has appeared on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, BBC, PBS Frontline, Al Jazeera, Sky and The Colbert Report, and his writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Foreign Affairs, Politico, The Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Westword, The Denver Post and several other publications.

Baer holds a doctorate in international relations from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a degree in social studies and African American studies from Harvard. A Colorado native, Baer lives in Denver with his husband, Brian.



Dr. Kim Hunter Reed (March 2017 – June 2018)
Dr. Kim Hunter Reed was appointed executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education by Governor John Hickenlooper, assuming the role on Feb. 15, 2017. Working with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, she led efforts to drive increased educational attainment and erase equity gaps as identified in the statewide strategic plan for higher education, Colorado Rises.

Reed visited every public institution in Colorado and regularly met with students, faculty and staff to discuss topics ranging from student success to affordability. Under her leadership, the department secured almost $1 million in grants from Lumina Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences that support unprecedented research in equity and innovation.

Reed participated in several cross-sector efforts to strengthen statewide talent development, including co-chairing the Governor’s Workforce and Education sub-cabinet as well as serving on the Colorado’s Business Experiential-Learning Commission and the Education Leadership Council. Nationally, she serves on the board of directors for Higher Learning Advocates, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and was selected as a commissioner for the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the Education Commission of the States.

Reed has extensive higher education and government experience. Prior to her appointment, she served in President Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, leading postsecondary diversity and inclusion work, supporting strong student and outcomes-focused policies and aggressive national outreach efforts. She also led the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Prior to serving in the administration, Reed was a principal at HCM Strategists LLC, a public policy and advocacy consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

A Louisiana native, Reed chaired the state’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as Louisiana's state policy director. Reed also served as chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. She received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, a master’s of public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University.


Interim E.D. - Diane Duffy (October 2016 – February 2017)
Ms. Duffy also served as the Chief Operating Officer.


Interim E.D. - Lt. Governor Donna Lynne (July 2016 – October 2016)
Lt. Governor Donna Lynne was appointed to her current role in March 2016.



Lt. Governor Joseph A. Garcia (January 2011 – June 2016)
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.



Dr. 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 postsecondary education.


Interim E.D. - Inta Morris (October 2009 – November 2009)
Ms. Morris was the Assistant Director Interdepartmental & External Affairs and currently serves as the Chief Advocacy and Outreach Officer.



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.


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


Rick O’Donnell (January 2005 - February of 2006)
Prior to his appointment as Executive Director by Governor Owens, Mr. O’Donnell served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. He previously served as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff and as Director, Governor’s Office of Policy & Initiatives. Prior to public service, Mr. O’Donnell served as a leader at multiple public policy research and education organizations, including as Executive Director of the Center for the New West and as Founding President of the Fund for Colorado’s Future. He resigned as Executive Director to return to the private sector.



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.



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.


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



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.



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.


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



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. Jerome F. Wartgow (July 1977 – August 1977)


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


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.