Geoffrey Landward has been appointed Utah Commissioner of Higher Education.

The Utah Board of Higher Education voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Landward to the position. The appointment requires confirmation by the Utah Senate.

Landward has served as interim commissioner since September 2023, when Commissioner Dave Woolstenhulme suddenly stepped down to pursue other professional opportunities.

Landward previously served as deputy commissioner and secretary to the higher education board. A graduate of BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, Landward has two decades of legal expertise in administrative law, education law and employment law.

Amanda Covington, chairwoman of the Utah Board of Higher Education, said in a statement that Landward’s “exceptional work, especially during the 2024 legislative session, along with his statewide relationships, make him the right leader for this role. Our decision to appoint Commissioner Landward underscores our confidence in his ability to lead the system with vision, collaboration and effectiveness into the future.”

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Landward had demonstrated an ability to navigate the complexities of higher education in Utah the last several months as interim, and is well positioned to assume the role as commissioner.“

Following his appointment, Landward thanked the board for its confidence in him.

“The team that I get to work with, the level of respect and in some cases, intimidation I have, working with you is is inexpressible. To know that I’ve earned your confidence and trust is the greatest privilege I can ever hope for in my professional career. So thank you. I hope to meet the expectations set for me,” he said.

In his six months as interim commissioner, Landward provided state-level leadership on higher education issues, including establishing legislative strategies, navigating the state budget and advocating for the value of higher education locally and nationally.

Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner, R-Ogden, a former president of Weber State University, said Landward’s selection was “a great appointment for the Utah System of Higher Education.”

She continued, “Geoffrey Landward possesses a deep understanding of higher education and the state and has proven he has the skills to move the system forward in remarkable ways. I look forward to working with Commissioner Landward in the future.”

Rep. Karen Peterson, R-Clinton, House chairwoman of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement that for nearly a decade, she had observed Landward’s “ability to lead with integrity and ingenuity, earning the respect and trust of colleagues across the state.”

Previous commissioners of higher education include G. Homer Durham — 1969-1976; T.H. Bell — 1976-1981; Arvo Van Alstyne — 1981-1985; Wm. Rolfe Kerr — 1985-1993; Cecelia H. Foxley — 1993-2003, Richard E. Kendell — 2003-2007; William A. Sederburg — 2008- 2012; David L. Buhler — 2012- 2019 and Dave R. Woolstenhulme — 2019-2023.