Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. As an interstate compact, WICHE partners with states, territories, and postsecondary institutions to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of our society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy.
WICHE undertakes its work in five primary focus areas, identified and approved by the WICHE Commission in its annual Workplan:
The Workplan is implemented by staff that manage a vast array of programs, projects, and initiatives and develop valuable resources to address the needs of member states and territories. When appropriate, some initiatives also extend beyond the WICHE region. The operational units are described below.
The Programs and Services unit broadens student access to postsecondary education and fosters higher education collaborations that increase institutional effectiveness. The unit manages WICHE’s four student access programs and other regional initiatives, such as the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders and the Western Academic Leadership Forum, that help institutions and students save money and use resources wisely. The unit also oversees initiatives that bring together the West’s higher education leaders to address common goals and issues, streamlines the student transfer process through a nationwide network of Interstate Passport® institutions, and develops a new cadre of academic administrative leaders through the Western Academic Leadership Academy. In addition, the unit helps institutions achieve cost savings through four programs in collaboration with the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), which created and administers the programs.
WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit offers various resources to support better-informed decision-making, principally at the state level. Topics for its numerous research projects and collaborations include postsecondary completion, closing attainment gaps, adult learners, and multistate data-sharing to support educational planning and workforce development. The unit’s staff members serve as subject-matter experts on higher education issues including finance, state and federal financial aid, articulation and transfer, strategic planning, and student demographics. Publications, including the WICHE Insights series, explore a range of significant policy issues. Unit staff members undertake long-term grant-funded projects, collaborate with regional and national partners, and provide short-term technical assistance to WICHE members.
WICHE’s Behavioral Health Program (BHP) provides technical assistance, education, consulting, and research services to strengthen behavioral health care in the West. Initiatives focus on analysis and growth of the behavioral health workforce, as well as overall improvements within the public mental health system. The BHP has a long history of providing mental health services in rural areas, and for providing training to support prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts throughout the West.
The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Its growing membership includes about 400 institutions, higher education agencies and systems, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations in all U.S. states and several Canadian provinces. WCET is widely recognized as one of the most informative, reliable, and forward-thinking organizations focused on the role of technology and innovation in higher education.
Importantly, WICHE, an organization founded on the idea of collaboration, prides itself on working in partnership across units to better serve the region.