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Charles L. Welch, president of the Arkansas State University System, will become the new president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Welch succeeds Mildred García, who left the state-college group to become the new chancellor of the California State University system.

As president of the Arkansas State system since 2011, Welch has maneuvered the university system through the integration of several formerly free-standing colleges, including Henderson State University, which he led as president before taking the reins in Arkansas.

“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,” Welch said in a news release.

“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.”