Montana’s Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian on Nov. 10 was elected vice chair of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) during the commission’s semi-annual meeting held in Westminster, CO. One of four regional higher education compacts in the U.S., WICHE (www.wiche.edu) and its 16 member states and U.S. territory work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. Governors of the member states and territory each appoint three commissioners to this regional governing body.
By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. As the only organization in the West that focuses exclusively on higher education issues, from access and accountability to tuition and fees to online learning and innovation, WICHE strives to find answers to solve some of the most critical questions facing higher education today. WICHE’s public policy research and collaborative programs support the West’s citizens and its constantly evolving cultures. WICHE’s members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states.
Christian has served on the WICHE Commission since 2010. During the past year he has chaired the commission’s Programs & Services Committee and represented Montana on the Executive Committee. The other appointed commissioners representing Montana are former U.S. Congressman Pat Williams, and Montana State University professor Franke Wilmer.
Christian has served as Montana’s commissioner of higher education since January 2012. He served six years as a member and chairman of Montana’s Board of Regents of Higher Education before assuming the chief administrative leadership post in the Montana University System. He serves on the State Higher Education Executive Officers executive committee and chairs its federal relations committee, in addition to serving on the NASH Board of Directors. His previous business experience includes title insurance and escrow services, real estate sales and development, commercial land ownership and management. He is a graduate of the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with emphasis in finance, management, and he has pursued advanced studies in economics.