The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education is a regional organization created by the Western Regional Education Compact and adopted in the 1950s by Western states. WICHE was created to facilitate resource sharing among the higher education systems of the West. It implements a number of activities to accomplish its objectives.
WICHE began operations in 1953 in Eugene, OR, moving to its present location in Boulder, CO, in 1955. WICHE is governed by three gubernatorially appointed commissioners from each member. Under terms of the compact, each member commits to support WICHE's basic operations through annual dues established by the full commission.
WICHE's members include 15 Western states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the first of the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states to participate). Members are listed in chronological order of membership, below.
1. New Mexico: December 19, 1952.
2. Montana: December 24, 1952
3. Arizona: January 6, 1953
4. Utah: January 14, 1953
5. Oregon: January 31, 1953
6. Colorado: April 20, 1953
7. Wyoming: April 28, 1953
8. Idaho: May 13, 1953
9. Alaska: May 19, 1955
10. Washington: June 9, 1955
11. California: December 15, 1955
12. Nevada: June 2, 1959
13. Hawai'i: June 23, 1959
14. North Dakota: July 1, 1984
15. South Dakota: July 1, 1988
16. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: November 13, 2012
Western Regional Education Compact
Entered into by and between the States and Territories signatory hereto, to provide acceptable and efficient educational facilities to meet the needs of the Western Region of the United States of America.
Whereas, the future of this Nation and of the Western States is dependent upon the quality of the education of its youth; and
Whereas, many of the Western States individually do not have sufficient numbers of potential students to warrant the establishment and maintenance within their borders of adequate facilities in all of the essential fields of technical, professional, and graduate training, nor do all the states have the financial ability to furnish within their borders institutions capable of providing acceptable standards of training in all of the fields mentioned above; and
Whereas, it is believed that the Western States, or groups of such state within the Region, cooperatively can provide acceptable and efficient educational facilities to meet the needs of the Region and of the students thereof:
Now, therefore, the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, and the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii do hereby Covenant and agree as follows:
Each of the compacting states and territories pledges to each of the other compacting states and territories faithful cooperation in carrying out all the purposes of this Compact.
The compacting states and territories hereby create the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, hereinafter called the Commission. Said Commission shall be a body corporate of each compacting state and territory and an agency thereof. The Commission shall have all the powers and duties set forth herein, including the power to sue and be sued, and such additional powers as may be conferred upon it by subsequent action of the respective legislatures of the compacting states and territories.
The Commission shall consist of three resident members from each compacting state or territory. At all times one Commissioner from each compacting state or territory shall be an educator engaged in the field of higher education in the state or territory from which he is appointed.
The Commissioners from each state and territory shall be appointed by the Governor thereof as provided by law in such state or territory. Any Commissioner may be removed or suspended from office as provided by the law of the state or territory from which he shall have been appointed.
The terms of each Commissioner shall be four years: Provided, however, that the first three Commissioners shall be appointed as follows; one for two years, one for three years, and one for four years. Each Commissioner shall hold office until his successor shall be appointed and qualified. If any office becomes vacant for any reason, the Governor shall appoint a Commissioner to fill the office for the remainder of the unexpired term.
Any business transacted at any meeting of the Commission must be by affirmative vote of a majority of the whole number of compacting states and territories.
One or more Commissioners from a majority of the compacting states and territories shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Each compacting state and territory represented at any meeting of the Commission is entitled to one vote.
The Commission shall elect from its number a chairman and a vice chairman and may appoint, and at its pleasure dismiss or remove, such officers, agents, and employees as may be required to carry out the purpose of this Compact; and shall fix and determine their duties, qualifications and compensation, having due regard for the importance of the responsibilities involved.
The Commissioners shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses from the funds of the Commission.
The Commission shall adopt a seal and by-laws and shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations for its management and control.
The Commission may elect such committees as it deems necessary for the carrying out of its functions.
The Commission shall establish and maintain an office within one of the compacting states for the transactions of its business and may meet at any time, but in any event must meet at least once a year. The Chairman may call such additional meetings and upon the request of a majority of the Commissioners of three or more compacting states or territories shall call additional meetings.
The Commission shall submit a budget to the Governor of each compacting state and territory at such time and for such period as may be required.
The Commission shall, after negotiations with interested institutions, determine the cost of providing the facilities for graduate and professional education for use in its contractual agreements throughout the Region.
On or before the fifteenth day of January of each year, the Commission shall submit to the Governors and Legislatures of the compacting states and territories a report of its activities for the preceding calendar year.
The Commission shall keep accurate books of account, showing in full its receipts and disbursements, and said books of account shall be open at any reasonable time for inspection by the Governor of any compacting state or territory or his designated representative. The Commission shall not be subject to audit and accounting procedure of any of the compacting states or territories. The Commission shall provide for an independent annual audit.
It shall be the duty of the Commission to enter into such contractual agreements with any institutions in the Region offering graduate or professional education and with any of the compacting states or territories as may be required in the judgment of the Commission to provide adequate services and facilities of graduate and professional education for the citizens of the respective compacting states or territories. The Commission shall first endeavor to provide adequate services and facilities in the fields of dentistry, medicine, public health, and veterinary medicine, and may undertake similar activities in other professional and graduate fields.
For this purpose the Commission may enter into contractual agreements—
(a) with the governing authority of any educational institution in the Region, or with any compacting state or territory, to provide such graduate or professional educational services upon terms and conditions to be agreed upon between contracting parties, and
(b) with the governing authority of any educational institution in the Region or with any compacting state of territory to assist in the placement of graduate or professional students in educational institutions in the Region providing the desired services and facilities, upon such terms and conditions as the Commission may prescribe.
It shall be the duty of the Commission to undertake studies of needs for professional and graduate educational facilities in the Region, the resources for meeting such needs, and the long-range effects of the Compact on higher education; and from time to time to prepare comprehensive reports on such research for presentation to the Western Governors’ Conference and to the legislatures of the compacting states and territories. In conducting such studies, the Commission may confer with any national or regional planning body which may be established. The Commission shall draft and recommend to the Governors of the various compacting states and territories, uniform legislation dealing with problems of higher education in the Region.
For the purposes of this Compact the word “Region” shall be construed to mean the geographical limits of the several compacting states and territories.
The operating costs of the Commission shall be apportioned equally among the compacting states and territories.
This Compact shall become operative and binding immediately as to those states and territories adopting it whenever five or more of the states or territories of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii have duly adopted it prior to July 1, 1953. This Compact shall become effective as to any additional states or territories adopting thereafter at the time of such adoption.
This Compact may be terminated at any time by consent of a majority of the compacting states and territories. Consent shall be manifested by passage and signature in the usual manner of legislation expressing such consent by the legislature and Governor of such terminating state. Any state of territory may at any time withdraw from this Compact by means of appropriate legislation to that end. Such withdrawal shall not become effective until two years after written notice thereof by the Governor of the withdrawing state or territory accompanied by a certified copy of requisite legislative action is received by the Commission. Such withdrawal shall not relieve the withdrawing state or territory from its obligations hereunder accruing prior to the effective date of withdrawal. The withdrawing state or territory may rescind its action of withdrawal at any time within the two-year period. Thereafter, the withdrawing state or territory may be reinstated by application to and the approval by a majority vote of the Commission.
If any compacting state or territory shall at any time default in the performance of any of its obligations assumed or imposed in accordance with the provisions of this Compact, all rights, privileges and benefits conferred by this Compact or agreements hereunder shall be suspended from the effective date of such default as fixed by the Commission.
Unless such default shall be remedied within a period of two years following the effective date of such default, this Compact may be terminated with respect to such defaulting state or territory by affirmative vote of three-fourths of the other member states or territories.
Any such defaulting state may be reinstated by: (a) performing all acts and obligations upon which it has heretofore defaulted, and (b) application to and the approval by a majority vote of the Commission.