SALT LAKE CITY — Former state legislator and Salt Lake City Councilman Dave Buhler was announced Thursday as the next commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education.

Buhler, an associate commissioner for the past 12 years, will take over when Commissioner William A. Sederburg retires Aug. 1. Buhler served as interim commissioner for about five months prior to Sederburg's appointment to the post in 2008.

Board of Regents Chairwoman Bonnie Jean Beesley said Buhler's background in higher education, state government and community service "make him uniquely qualified to serve as the next commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Utah."

"Dave's experience as associate commissioner for the past 12 years and his proven track record indicate that he is the right person to fill this position and help us meet the challenges facing higher education," Beesley said.

Buhler was selected by unanimous vote of the Board of Regents and with the approval of Gov. Gary Herbert. The appointment still must be confirmed by the Utah Senate.

"Dave will be able to ensure our 66 percent (of Utah adults with college degrees or post-secondary certificates) by 2020 goals can be achieved, allowing our economy to continue to grow and prosper," Herbert said. "His leadership will foster continued education excellence as Utah leads the nation in economic growth and quality of life."

Buhler, who has worked in higher eduction for 22 years, including as an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Utah from 1990 to 2006, said he has experienced firsthand the strengths and challenges facing Utah as it works toward the 66 percent goal.

"For generations, one of Utah's great strengths has been the state's commitment to provide quality affordable higher education opportunities for its residents," he said. "These opportunities are more important now than ever before."

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Since 2008, Buhler has overseen the state Office of Participation and Outreach, which includes administration of the College Access Challenge Grant and the New Century Scholarships.

He served in the Utah Senate from 1995 to 1999 and on the Salt Lake City Council from 2000 to 2007.

The commissioner of Higher Education is the CEO to the State Board of Regents. The commissioner is responsible for ensuring that the board's policies and programs are properly executed at the eight public colleges and universities in Utah.

Buhler emerged from a nationwide search during which more than 50 candidates were considered.