EducationGovernorHot Sheet

Dan Baer named to head Colorado Department of Higher Education

Author: Ernest Luning - May 16, 2018 - Updated: May 16, 2018

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Dan Baer, the former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a one-time congressional candidate in Colorado's 7th Congressional District, stands on the deck outside a coffee shop in Lakewood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Dan Baer, the former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a one-time congressional candidate in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, stands on the deck outside a coffee shop in Lakewood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Dan Baer, a former ambassador and Democrat who ran for Congress last year, was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday to be the next executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

Baer will take over on June 8 from Kim Hunter Reed, who is departing after 16 months on the job to take the same position in Louisiana. He starts working with Reed this week as a special advisor, the governor’s office said.

“Dan has dedicated his career to public service and higher education, and has ample experience in both government and the private sector,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “But it is the passion that he will bring to higher ed these last eight months that will make all the difference.”

Several high-level officials in the Hickenlooper administration are exiting as the Democrat’s final term nears its end.

Baer served as U.S. ambassador for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in the Obama administration and has been a diplomat in residence at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies since last fall.

“I’m excited to hit the ground running with Kim Hunter Reed and the terrific team at CDHE,” Baer said in a statement. “Gov. Hickenlooper has made clear that he wants to use every single day in his term to make progress for Coloradans, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to help continue the great work being done on educational opportunity, equity, and workforce development in Colorado.”

Last year, Baer was one of four Democrats who ran for the 7th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter when the six-term Democrat mounted a campaign for governor. After Perlmutter changed his mind and announced his bid for re-election, Baer briefly considered staying in the race but withdrew a few weeks later.

“I wanted to make an argument about the future and not about a popular Democratic incumbent,” Baer told Colorado Politics at the time. He added: “It’s going to be very important to me to see that President Trump is not re-elected in 2020. I will be part of a group of folks working to restore dignified, principled American leadership both at home and abroad.”

The day Baer ended his congressional campaign, Hickenlooper told Colorado Politics he foresaw a bright future for Baer in the state.

“As someone who has grown up in Colorado, Dan brings a wealth of experience and talent back to the state,” Hickenlooper said. “We admire his commitment to public service and hope his desire for contributing remains strong. He will no doubt bring impact no matter what the future holds.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.