Forum Executive Committee
The Western Academic Leadership Forum (Forum) is governed by an executive committee of 16 individuals, with one selected from the members’ official representatives in each WICHE state and territory. This group has oversight responsibility for Forum activities. It meets face-to-face twice per year and otherwise by conference call as needed.
The committee is governed by a chair with overall leadership responsibility for activities of the Forum. The vice chair usually assumes the position of chair at the conclusion of that meeting.
WICHE serves as fiscal agent for the Forum.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Alaska Anchorage
Denise Runge, Ph.D., has served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 2020. She leads programming across five campuses and collaborates closely with the other campuses in the Alaska system. Previously, she held similar positions in Montana and Georgia. Denise received her B.A. in political science from Washington and Jefferson College, an M.A. from Jacksonville State University, and Ph.D. in policy and administration from the University of Alabama.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Arizona
Gail D. Burd is the senior vice provost for academic affairs, teaching, and learning and a distinguished professor in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona. Her portfolio includes the Office of Instruction and Assessment, Academic Resources, the Center for University Education Scholarship and oversees accreditation, strategic teaching initiatives, and academic program reviews. Burd served as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Science and interim and associate department head of molecular and cellular biology. She has served on government and professional panels and received awards for innovative teaching. Burd earned her B.A. in biology at Trenton State College and Ph.D. in neurobiology from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Forum Executive Committee, California State University, Northridge
Mary Beth Walker was appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs effective July 1, 2019. Until her appointment, Walker had been serving since January 2019 as interim president of Georgia Gwinnett College, which is part of the Georgia State System. Before her appointment as interim president, since 2017 she served as associate provost for strategic initiatives and innovations at Georgia State University, where she has served in successive leadership and academic roles, including dean of the School of Policy Studies and chair of the Department of Economics. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Rice University. Walker chairs the Provost’s Council, the Academic Affairs Council, the Teacher Education Council, and the University Planning & Budget Group (UPBG).
Forum Executive Committee, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Alfred Tatum has served as provost and executive vice president at Metropolitan State University of Denver since March of 2021. In this role, he works collaboratively with faculty, staff, administrators, and the Board of Trustees to create and sustain a vibrant environment to advance MSU Denver’s mission “to provide a high-quality, accessible, enriching education that prepares students for successful careers, post-graduate education, and lifelong learning in a multicultural, global, and technological society.” Previously, Tatum served as professor and dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is an accomplished author.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Guam
Anita Borja Enriquez is senior vice president of academics and provost at the University of Guam. A staunch advocate for developing economies and building social mobility, she founded the Student Success Initiative Team and the College Affordability Initiative and secured over $1.6 million for multiple economic initiatives. A CHamoru Pacific Islander, she co-chairs the Island Wisdom Group and founded the Inadahi yan Inagofli’e’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. She holds a D.B.A. degree in international business (marketing) from Alliant International University, a M.B.A. degree from University of Guam, and B.S. degree in management from University of Maryland, University College.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Hawaii System
Debora Halbert is the associate vice president for academic programs and policy at the University of Hawai‘i System where she works on student success and transfer related issues. Prior to her current position, she was the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Western Washington University and her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Prior to returning to Hawai‘i where she was a professor in the political science department teaching law, policy and also futures studies, she taught for 12 years at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Idaho
Torrey Lawrence, D.M.A., serves as provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho (UI). He has been a music professor at UI since 1998. He serves as the university’s chief academic officer and is directly responsible for the general direction of all academic programs, endeavors, and instructional services across multiple statewide locations. Previously, he served as vice provost for faculty and held additional leadership roles at the college and department levels. Lawrence received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Northwestern University and a doctorate from the University of Oregon.
Forum/Alliance Executive Committee, Montana University System
Brock Tessman serves as the deputy commissioner of academic, research, and student affairs for the Montana University System. Prior to his current position, Tessman served as a professor of political science and dean of the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana in Missoula. Tessman began his academic career at the University of Georgia, where he earned tenure in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA). Tessman graduated with an honors degree in international relations from Brown University and received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Forum Executive Committee, University of New Mexico
James Paul Holloway is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico (UNM), and a professor in nuclear engineering in the UNM School of Engineering. Previously, he served as associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Engineering and as the vice provost for global engagement & interdisciplinary academic affairs at the University of Michigan. He is also Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus and professor emeritus of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan. After receiving the M.S. in nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois, he completed a C.A.S. in mathematics at Cambridge University and a doctorate in engineering physics at the University of Virginia.
Forum Executive Committee, University of North Dakota
Eric Carl Link serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Dakota. Prior to that, Link served as provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs the University of Houston Downtown, and before that as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Purdue University Fort Wayne, and associate dean and department chair at the University of Memphis. Link holds a Ph.D. in American literature from Purdue University, is widely published in his field, and is a two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar, with appointments in Fribourg, Switzerland, and Lutsk, Ukraine.
Forum Executive Committee, State of Oregon: Higher Education Coordinating Commission
Veronica Dujon, Ph.D., is the director for academic policy and authorization at Oregon Higher Education Coordination Commission. She leads the Commission’s efforts to coordinate academic programs, degree pathways, and student success initiatives among Oregon’s public universities. Dujon also oversees degree authorization for private schools, and licensing and compliance for private career schools. Prior to joining the HECC she was an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University. Dujon did her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an environmental sociologist by training. Dujon’s research and publications focus on conflicts over declining natural resources; the role of women in the global economy; and the tensions between national development strategies and forces of globalization.
Forum Executive Committee, South Dakota Board of Regents
Forum Executive Committee, Utah Valley University
David R. Connelly is the associate provost for academic programs at Utah Valley University. He is a former faculty senate president and chair of the History and Political Science Department. His primary teaching interests are in public administration. Connelly previously worked for the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) and taught at Western Illinois University. He has also worked developing and implementing information technology policy at the local, state and federal level while at the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany. Connelly has a Ph.D. from the University at Albany while his M.P.A. is from Brigham Young University.
Forum Executive Committee, Washington State University Vancouver
Renny Christopher has served as vice chancellor for academic affairs at Washington State University Vancouver since 2013. Her research interests focus on issues of race, class and gender in U.S. literature and culture. Her memoir, A Carpenter’s Daughter: A Working-Class Woman in Higher Education (Sense Publishers, 2009), addresses her experiences as the first in her family to attend college. She has taught at several universities in California and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain in 2000. Before earning her doctorate, Christopher worked as a printing press operator, typesetter, carpenter and horse wrangler.
Forum Executive Committee, University of Wyoming
Kevin Carman is the provost and senior vice president at the University of Wyoming. He served for eight years as executive vice president and provost at the University of Nevada, Reno and for nine years as dean of the College of Science at Louisiana State University. At both UNR and LSU, Carman led the implementation of academic boot camps for incoming freshmen that have received recognitions from APLU, NWCCU, and WICHE for their positive impact on student success. Carman received his B.A. in biology from McPherson College and an M.S. and Ph.D. in biological oceanography from Florida State University.