SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Dave Woolstenhulme resigned shortly before an “emergency” board meeting this afternoon.

The system’s board has installed Interim Commissioner Geoffrey Landward as Woolstenhulme’s replacement this afternoon. The only reason given for Woolstenhulme’s departure is to “pursue other professional opportunities.” Board chair Amanda Covington thanked him for his service. No board members opposed Landward’s appointment.

According to the system’s website — which has already been updated to remove Woolstenhulme — Landward previously served as deputy commissioner and secretary to the Utah Board of Higher Education. In addition to over a decade of public policy work, he has extensive executive leadership experience and 20 years of legal expertise in administrative law, education law, and employment law. He is a graduate of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

“Thank you for your trust, and I’m honored to be able to help in this transition in any way I can,” said Landward in the meeting.

Covington said the board will initiate a national search for a permanent replacement.

The commissioner’s position puts them in charge of the state’s eight public colleges and universities and eight technical schools serving over 200,000 students. Woolstenhulme first stepped into the position as interim commissioner in 2019.

Woolstenhulme was not present for the “emergency” meeting, which happened at 3 p.m. this afternoon. It would appear his resignation came as a surprise, as the meeting had not been previously advertised as the law requires. The board gave a half-hour notice before launching the “emergency” meeting and spoke in closed, executive session for an hour before returning and voting on Landward’s promotion.