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Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
For Immediate Release

June 23, 2004

SCHEV Names Daniel J. LaVista Executive Director
—Illinois educator to advance Virginia’s higher education agenda—

RICHMOND — Daniel J. LaVista was named the Executive Director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia effective August 7, 2004. Prior to being appointed Executive Director, Dr. LaVista was the Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education where he assisted the Board in policy development addressing affordability of postsecondary education, faculty diversity and college and university productivity.

Previous executive positions include president of McHenry County College, president of the College of Lake County, and Chancellor for the Community Colleges of Baltimore County. He also served as vice-president for academic affairs at Cuyahoga Community College and associate professor of theater at Illinois State University.

Dr. Carl Kelly, SCHEV Chairman, noted that "the Council was unanimous in its support for LaVista. Because Dr. LaVista previously served as a state higher education executive officer, he understands the challenges and the opportunities associated with the position. Importantly, the Illinois Board is a coordinating board like Virginia’s, and its budget and staffing levels are very similar. Dr. LaVista immediately commanded the respect of the Council and agency staff, and he impressed the external constituents to whom he was introduced as a candidate for the position. The Council is confident that under Dr. LaVista’s leadership the agency will continue to build upon its history of solid contributions to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Dr. John Peters, president of Northern Illinois University and convener of public university presidents and chancellors, said that Virginia's gain is Illinois' loss. "Dan LaVista has been an able and adept leader for Illinois higher education," Peters said. "During these exceedingly difficult economic times, Illinois has been fortunate to have such a calm, thoughtful, and resourceful guide for its system of colleges and universities. He has the respect of all public university presidents and chancellors. Dan has served with grace and good humor, with honor and distinction, and Illinois will miss him."

Dr. Larry Matejka, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, responded to news of the appointment. “Congratulations to Dan on his appointment as executive director of the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia. I have known Dan for many years as a college president, state higher education executive, and professional colleague. I have especially enjoyed working with Dan the past two years as our respective boards have addressed the complex issue of affordability in Illinois Higher Education. In these difficult financial times few issues are more important than a family’s ability to afford higher education, and the result of this collaborative effort will impact Illinois citizens for many years. Dan's quiet leadership style and genuine support will be missed.”

LaVista speaks widely on a variety of topics in higher education, including managing change, learning and technology, business-higher education connections, lifelong learning, and higher education governance. He has served as chair of the Illinois Community College Presidents Council and in various professional affiliations and projects in the United States and England.

LaVista holds a Ph.D. in Speech and Dramatic Arts from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Dayton, and a B.A. in English from Siena College in New York.

As SCHEV’s Executive Director, LaVista serves on the following boards: Center for Innovative Technology, Roanoke Higher Education Authority, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Virginia College Building Authority, Virginia College Savings Plan, Virginia Space Grant Authority, and the Advisory Board for Teacher Education and Licensure. LaVista also is active in a variety of professional associations, such as the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association and the Midwest Higher Education Compact, both of which support interstate cooperation in academic and administrative programs and services. In addition, his past community involvement has included volunteer service with United Way, the Challenger Learning Center, and organizations combating domestic violence.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia promotes the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive and coordinated system of higher education in Virginia. The Council consists of 11 members who are appointed by the Governor for four-year terms. In fulfilling its mission, SCHEV provides state-level policy, program and budget leadership on higher education issues. Among its many statutory duties, SCHEV is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly involving Virginia’s system of higher education in such areas as budget planning, enrollment projections, and student financial aid.

The Director of SCHEV, who is appointed by the Council for a term agreed upon by contract, manages the Virginia state government agency’s 31-member professional staff, oversees the agency’s $3.2 million annual budget to conduct its policy analyses and program operations, and administers $62 million in grants and appropriations for Virginia higher education. The Director establishes communications and maintains active liaisons with higher education institutional leaders, the administration, the state legislature and others. The Director also speaks at a wide variety of venues on major higher education issues throughout Virginia and the nation.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. Agenda materials for the SCHEV meeting are available at

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804)225-2627.