David L. Buhler, Commissioner of Higher Education
David L. Buhler was named as the eighth Commissioner of Higher Education in June 2012. As Commissioner he is responsible for making recommendations to, and implementing the policies of, the State Board of Regents, which is the governing board of Utah’s eight public colleges and universities. Commissioner Buhler comes to this position with a long history of service in higher education, state and local government, and business.
For nearly twelve years prior to his appointment, Commissioner Buhler served as Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs with responsibility for government and media relations and overseeing the system’s strategic priority of participation and outreach. He also served as Interim Commissioner for eight months in 2008. Commissioner Buhler taught as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Utah from 1990 to 2006, and was a member of the University of Utah Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2000.
Commissioner Buhler served twelve years as an elected official, including two terms as a member of the Salt Lake City Council (2000-2007), and one term as a Utah State Senator (1995-1999). On the City Council he served as Council Chair in 2002 and 2006. In the Senate, he served as Senate Chair of the Administrative Services and Capital Facilities Appropriations Subcommittee and Vice Chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee. He served eight years in state government including four years as Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce (1989-1992) and as a member of the staff of Governor Norman H. Bangerter (1984-89). He was also an executive in private business with a national testing firm for eight years (1992-2000).
A native of Salt Lake City, Dave received Bachelor of Science degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Utah and a Master of Public Administration degree from Brigham Young University. He is currently completing a PhD in Political Science at the University of Utah. He is married to the former Lori Goaslind; they are the parents of five children.
Elizabeth J. Hitch, Associate Commissioner for Academic & Student Affairs
Dr. Elizabeth J. Hitch became Associate Commissioner for Academic Affairs in the Utah System of Higher Education in July 2010. She came to Utah in 2007 as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Utah Valley University, and served as Interim President at UVU in 2008-09. Before coming to Utah, she served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and was Interim President for one year. She served as Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies at Eastern Illinois University; was a tenured faculty member and administrator at Central Michigan University; and an instructional designer at the University of Michigan. She has a doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Michigan and baccalaureate and master’s degrees in family ecology from Michigan State University. She is married to Keith and they have two grown daughters and two grandchildren who also reside in Utah.
Dr. Stauffer was appointed Associate Commissioner for Planning, Finance, & Facilities in 2008. He was formerly the Vice President and Chief of Staff at Southern Utah University (SUU) where he served in several strategic and master planning roles including chief operational and fiscal officer. At SUU, he also served as Interim President for eight months and as the Vice President of Administrative and Financial Services for 11 years. With 30 years experience in executive level roles at institutions including Peru State College, Washburn University, and the University of Idaho, Dr. Stauffer has held a variety of leadership positions in Academic Affairs, Financial Services, & Intercollegiate Athletics. He earned a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Washburn University, an MBA from Missouri State University, and his Ed.D. from the University of Kansas.