Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday that he has appointed Laura Fornash as Virginia’s new secretary of education after a nationwide search.

Fornash had been interim secretary since July following the departure of Gerard Robinson, who left after being named schools’ chief in Florida. She had been serving as deputy secretary and executive director of the Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment.

“We are thrilled to be able to appoint a consummate professional and well-respected advocate for higher education to be the next leader of Virginia’s education system,” McDonnell (R) said in a statement.

Fornash spent two decades at her alma mater, Virginia Tech, in a number of different divisions including student affairs, continuing education, distance learning and government relations.