Dave Buhler's selection Thursday is pending final approval by the Utah Senate.
As commissioner, Buhler will be responsible for ensuring that the Utah Board of Regents' policies are properly implemented at the state's eight public colleges and universities.
Buhler has served as an associate commissioner for the past 12 years and will take over when Commissioner William Sederburg retires Aug. 1.
Buhler has worked in higher education for 22 years, include a 16-year stint as an adjunct political science professor at the University of Utah.
He served in the state senate between 1995 and 1999, and on the Salt Lake City Council between 2000 and 2007.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)