Dr. Chato Hazelbaker Named President of Pueblo Community College

Dr. Chato HazelbakerApril 2, 2024 (Denver) — Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), has announced Dr. Chato Hazelbaker as the next president of Pueblo Community College (PCC). A federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, PCC enrolls over 9,000 students annually across its three campuses.

Dr. Hazelbaker currently serves as the president of Northland Pioneer College (NPC) in northeastern Arizona and will begin his tenure on July 1, 2024. He will succeed president Dr. Patricia Erjavec, who will stay on to support the transition ahead of her planned retirement.

With more than 20 years in higher education, Dr. Hazelbaker brings holistic leadership experience serving at both two-year and four-year colleges. He has successfully increased enrollment and retention of students, developed in-demand workforce training programs, and forged strong partnerships with surrounding communities.

Dr. Hazelbaker emerged as the top candidate following an extensive nationwide search process led by a nine-member advisory committee. PCC also hosted campus visits and open forums that sought input from 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 accepting the position, Dr. Hazelbaker thanked Chancellor Garcia for the opportunity and expressed his excitement to lead PCC.

“I’m looking forward to building on the strong partnerships Pueblo Community College has developed and promoting economic development in Southern Colorado,” he said. “I also hope to continue the college’s focus on student success. When our students achieve their goals, the entire community benefits.”

Dr. Hazelbaker comes to PCC with a strong focus on equity and economic mobility. As president of NPC, a federally designated Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution, he established the college’s first formal group dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion that effectively strengthened partnerships with the surrounding tribal nations. He also secured a federal grant that directly supported Native and Indigenous learners and worked closely with local communities affected by coal plant closures to expand programming.

A collaborative, entrepreneurial leader, Dr. Hazelbaker spearheaded a college-wide strategic planning process and revamped NPC’s enrollment strategy, reversing a ten-year decline and boosting student retention by 7 percent. To meet industry needs, Dr. Hazelbaker also partnered with experts to launch in-demand programs in behavioral health, allied health, and energy and industrial technology and led accreditation of new bachelor's degree programs.

Dr. Hazelbaker previously served as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing for Carroll College, a private four-year college located in Helena, Montana. There, he oversaw a 28 percent growth rate in first-time, first-year student enrollment and partnered with the local community college to improve higher education access across the region.

Dr. Hazelbaker graduated from the Aspen Institute’s prestigious New Presidents Fellowship and has served on many boards and commissions, including REAL AZ, Northeast Arizona’s Economic Development Engine, and the Governor’s Interagency and Community Broadband Advisory Council. 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.”


CCCS Communications

PCC Public Relations Coordinator
Amy Matthew

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