The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) announced Charles L. Welch as its new president and CEO, effective Jan. 15, 2024
Welch is president of the Arkansas State University System, a role he has had since 2011; prior to that he was president of Henderson State University.
A statement released Tuesday from AASCU states that Welch is no stranger to the organization, having served as president of AASCU member ASU System since April 2011 and as chair of the AASCU Board of Directors from 2019–2021, including being elected to a second term during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASU System Board of Trustees member Christy Clark said the board would meet Wednesday afternoon via Zoom to discuss plans to name Welch’s successor.
“We are deeply saddened about Dr. Welch’s resignation as president of the ASU System, but we are excited for him and his family and the opportunity they have been given,” Clark said. “Dr. Welch has provided the ASU System with exemplary leadership and has strengthened us in his tenure.”
The system has grown from four to seven member institutions since Welch’s arrival, in addition to a Mexico campus.
“America’s regional public colleges and universities are on the frontlines of transforming public higher education, driving civic engagement, and contributing to thriving local communities,” said Welch. “It’s an honor to join AASCU at a time when regional comprehensive universities are poised to make a critical impact. They serve our country’s fastest-growing demographics—from students of color and first-generation students to adult learners and transfer students—and create pathways to social and economic mobility. I look forward to working collaboratively with the board, the AASCU staff, and our dedicated members to continue the vital work of telling the story of public higher education—and moving our sector forward.”
Welch, a native of Jonesboro, Arkansas, is a first-generation college student and the first member of his extended family to receive an advanced degree. He has an extensive resume of leading positions in higher education.
“We are thrilled to welcome Chuck Welch as the new president and CEO of AASCU,” said Ronald S. Rochon, chair of the AASCU Board of Directors, president of the University of Southern Indiana, and co-chair of the AASCU presidential search committee. “He stood out for his exceptional vision, strategic mindset, and deep commitment to AASCU’s mission and values. We believe his dynamic leadership will drive our association to new heights in service to the 3.2 million diverse students AASCU educates.”
“In many ways, we are at a tipping point in higher education,” said Heidi M. Anderson, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, immediate past chair of the AASCU Board of Directors, and co-chair of the AASCU presidential search committee. “Now, more than ever, we need strong leadership and a valued voice at AASCU to represent a diverse and important cross section of students in U.S. higher education. Dr. Welch received the board’s unanimous support. I’m delighted by his appointment and pledge my support to Dr. Welch to help him represent all of us.”
AASCU’s membership comprises 350 state colleges, universities, and higher education systems, including 95% of the nation’s public historically Black colleges and universities and 64% of public four-year Hispanic-serving Institutions. AASCU institutions have an average annual tuition of less than $9,000 for in-state, full-time undergraduates, providing an affordable education to more than 3 million students and awarding 43% of public, four-year bachelor’s degrees conferred in the U.S. annually.
Welch joins the association during a period of growth and dynamism in AASCU’s history. Under his predecessor Mildred García’s leadership, the association raised more than $30 million in foundation grants and awards, including a competitive multi-million, multi-year award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of only six awardees of over 250 applicants.
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