State higher education chief Teresa Lubbers stepping down

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Teresa Lubbers

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers plans to step down from her position at the end of the 2022 legislative session, ending a nearly 13-year run in the job, the governor’s office announced Tuesday morning.

Lubbers, 70, represented District 30 in the Indiana Senate for 17 years before resigning in 2009 to take over the 14-member Indiana Commission for Higher Education after being appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

She will also leave her role as chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, which she took in 2019 after being appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The governor’s office said Lubbers was currently the nation’s longest serving state higher education executive officer.

“Throughout my career, I have been blessed with opportunities for service that have enriched my life both personally and professionally,” Lubbers said in written remarks. “None of these roles has been more meaningful to me than my tenure at the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. It has been my privilege to serve alongside a talented staff and visionary commission members who are committed to students and the state. I look forward to new ways to contribute to this next chapter of my life while ensuring a smooth transition to new leadership for the commission.”

The governor’s office credited Lubbers with moving Indiana toward its goal of having at least 60 percent of Hoosiers with education and training beyond high school—gaining 15 percentage points toward that goal over the past several years.

It said Indiana has been tops in the Midwest and fourth nationally in distributing need-based aid.

“Indiana has been fortunate to have Commissioner Lubbers devote her time in public service to the benefit of Hoosiers with her work in higher education and workforce issues for our state for many years,” Holcomb said in written remarks. “We are grateful for her passion for students and employers and for helping Indiana make strides toward ensuring all Hoosiers have the education and training they need to prosper.”

Lubbers began her career in public service as public information officer for Richard Lugar when he was mayor of Indianapolis. She then served as deputy press secretary in Sen. Lugar’s office before pursuing a career in public relations and later running for office.

She’s a graduate of Warren Central High School, with an undergraduate degree from Indiana University and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.

Lubbers received IBJ’s Michael A. Carroll Award in 2020 in recognition of her years of service as a community leader.

“Teresa Lubbers’ contributions during 12 years at the Commission for Higher Education will be seen as historic, but they are only part of the story,” Mitch Daniels, now president of Purdue University, said in written comments. “She has served Indiana for a half-century with great skill at all three levels of government, somehow still making time for innumerable volunteer and civic involvements. To cite just one example of her legacy, thousands of young graduates of Indiana’s charter schools owe their improved life prospects to Teresa Lubbers.”

The Higher Education Commission will conduct a search for commissioner candidates, led by Vice Chair Jud Fisher.

The commission was created in 1971 to define the missions of Indiana’s colleges and universities, plan and coordinate the state’s postsecondary education system, and ensure that Indiana’s higher education system is aligned to meet the needs of students and the state. It includes representatives from each Congressional district, three at-large members, a college faculty representative and a college student representative.

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6 thoughts on “State higher education chief Teresa Lubbers stepping down

  1. Congratulations to Ms. Lubbers for her career of public service.

    This might be a good time to reflect on and assess the work of the Commission on Higher Education (ICHE). It was created to be a weaker alternative to a strong Board of Regents that several states had. When he was mayor of Indianapolis, Richard Lugar pushed hard for a strong Regents system that would reallocate resources to build a major, separate, independent state university in the city. Both Indiana University and Purdue University fought tooth and nail to prevent it and preserve their hegemony. With creation of ICHE in 1971, a Regents-Lite apparatus, they won. While Lugar and allies in the General Assembly continued to push for an independent state university in Indy, both schools, but especially IU, worked hard to circumvent it.

    Is ICHE still a weak version of a Regents operation? Do Purdue and IU still run roughshod over it? With less and less support going from state coffers to state universities (only about 15-18% of university budgets the last I read), does ICHE still have a role to play?

    IBJ reporters: there’s an idea for a series of articles.

  2. Congratulations Mrs. Lubbers! Your hard work and passion for Indiana has made us a better place!

    You are a shinning example of what compassionate hard working conservative values can do to sustainably improve society!

    Thank you for being a wonderful example.

  3. Teresa Lubbers, thank you for your passionate advancement of higher education. You have been a mentor to many and a role model for even more. Your passionate leadership will be missed!