Dr. Chris Bustamante is an Education Consultant and Senior Fellow for the Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL). He is also the former president of Rio Salado College (Rio) and the Maricopa Corporate College (MCOR), each located in Tempe, Arizona. Both institutions are part of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) which serves approximately 200,000+ students annually. Rio is the largest of the District’s ten individually accredited colleges and serves nearly 52,000 students each year. Dr. Bustamante retired from the Maricopa Colleges in August 2018 after twenty-six years of service, including eight years as President of Rio.
Dr. Bustamante is a well-known advocate for increasing access to higher education and degree completion. In addition, he is highly regarded for forging transformational partnerships with business, government, and other educational providers.
He was appointed President of Rio in June 2010, and President of MCOR in August 2016. Prior leadership roles at Rio include: Vice President of Community Development and Student Services and Dean of Academic Affairs. Previously he served in senior level government affairs positions for the Maricopa County Community College District, as Assistant to the Superintendent for Community and Government Relations for the Phoenix Union High School District, and as a Legislative Assistant in the Arizona House of Representatives.
A native to Arizona, he holds both a doctorate and master’s degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arizona and also attended Pima Community College as a transfer student. Dr. Bustamante’s commitment to higher education is noted by his leadership roles nationally and locally. He served most recently as Board Chair for Higher Learning Advocates (HLA) (2016-2018) and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Board of Trustees (2016-17); currently serves as a CAEL Advisory Board Member (2018-Present). In addition, he served as a board member for the American Council on Education (ACE) (2016-2018) and Past Chair of ACE’s Commission on Education, Attainment, and Innovation. He served on the Board for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and its Executive Committee (2015-2017), as past President of the National Community College Hispanic Council (NCCHC) and a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the Presidents’ Forum Advisory Board, Credential Engine Board, and the Advisory Board for the Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI). In addition, Dr. Bustamante served as President of the Continuous Quality Improvement Network (CQIN) and member of its Executive Committee (2012-2018). He currently serves on the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and its Executive Committee. Locally, he was co-chair of the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s Education Committee (2016-2018), Friends of Public Radio Arizona Board Member (2010-2018), and currently serves on the Board of the Boy Scouts of America – Grand Canyon Council, and the Be A Leader Foundation.
Chris and his wife, Mary, live in Tempe, Arizona, where they are raising their three daughters.