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Pueblo Community College unveiled their new president, to take over role in July

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Posted at 1:03 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 19:18:40-04

PUEBLO, Colo. — Joe Garcia, the chancellor of the Colorado Community College System has announced that Pueblo Community College's search for a president has come to an end.

Dr. Chato Hazelbaker has been unveiled as the president who will begin to lead the charge for Pueblo Community College.

Pueblo Community College(PCC), is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution. They have three campuses, which serve over 9,000 students annually.

The nationwide search for a president eventually led the college to Dr. Chato Hazelbaker, as a nine-member advisory committee deemed him to be their top candidate. Dr. Hazelbaker will succeed the retiring president Dr. Patricia Erjavec, who will stay on through Jul. 1, to support the transition of the new president.

Dr. Hazelbaker brings admirable leadership skills alongside an impressive resume.

Dr. Hazelbaker has worked in higher education for more than 20 years and currently serves as the president at Northland Pioneer College (NPC) in northeastern Arizona. Throughout his career, he has worked at both two-year and four-year colleges and looks to bring a holistic leadership experience with him wherever he goes.

His skill set has helped him increase enrollment and retention of students, develop in-demand workforce training programs, and forge strong partnerships with surrounding communities.

Dr. Hazelbaker worked well to immediately connect with the community upon his visit when PCC was seeking input from the college and community stakeholders.

“From strategic planning to community relations, Dr. Hazelbaker brings a wide-ranging skillset that will have an immediate impact on PCC,” said Chancellor Garcia. "His commitment to academic excellence, coupled with his experience leading multiple campuses, make him the right choice for the college. I have no doubt that Dr. Hazelbaker will carry on PCC’s impressive growth and legacy of innovation and inclusion.”

Upon arrival, Dr. Hazelbaker wants to highlight equity and economic mobility. When working as president of NPC, a federally designated Native American Serving Nontribal Institution, he established a diversity, equity, and inclusion group dedicated to enhancing the relationships with surrounding tribal nations. He was also able to obtain a grant that supported Native and Indigenous learners. As local coal factories began to see closures, Dr. Hazelbaker worked with local communities to expand programming.

One of his most advanced skills is his ability to retain and increase student enrollment at a college. During his time at NPC, he was able to increase student retention by 7% and reversed a 10-year decline in student enrollment. While in the role of Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at Carroll College, he oversaw a 28% increase in enrollment among first-time and first-year students.

Dr. Hazelbaker said he is excited to relocate to Pueblo with his wife and connect with the wider community.

“Pueblo Community College has a strong reputation, and I really enjoyed my time getting to know the community and the college,” Dr. Hazelbaker said. “The faculty, staff, and students that I met are dedicated to making a positive difference in their communities. I’m honored to be invited to be a part of that."

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