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 Southeast
Karen Carey has served as provost at the University of Alaska Southeast, located in Juneau, since 2016. Previously, she served as dean of arts and sciences at California State University Channel Islands for five years and served for 22 years at California State University Fresno as a professor of school psychology, chair of psychology, associate dean, and dean of graduate studies. Carey received her B.S. degree in psychology from San Diego State University; her M.S. in school psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Cincinnati.
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 System
Loren J. Blanchard is the executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the California State University, the largest and most diverse four-year public higher education system in the nation. In this capacity, Blanchard develops and oversees educational policy for the 23-campus system; guides and supports campus administrators on curricula, program design and student affairs; and serves as the chancellor’s designee to the CSU’s Academic Senate. Blanchard holds a bachelor’s of science degree in speech pathology education with a minor in psychology from Xavier University (OH); a master’s of education in educational administration and supervision from McNeese State University (LA); and a Ph.D. in education psychology from the University of Georgia.
Forum Executive Committee, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Bill Henry was appointed interim provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Metropolitan State University Denver (MSU Denver) in June 2020. He joined MSU Denver in 2004 as a member of the department of psychology. Henry earned his Ph.D. in experimental psychopathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. At MSU Denver, his administrative experience includes serving as chair of the department of psychology (2008-2011); chair of the college of letters, arts, and sciences retention, tenure, and promotion committee (2012-2015); chair of the campus ethics committee (2014-2015); associate vice president for faculty affairs (2017-2019); and vice provost for faculty affairs (2019-2020).
Forum Executive Committee, University of Hawai'i System
Donald Straney is vice president for academic planning and policy for the University of Hawaiʻi system. He oversees academic and student affairs policy and leads the Universityʻs Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative and the system’s integrated planning process. Previously, he served as chancellor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, dean of science at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and was a professor and chair of zoology and assistant to the provost for faculty development at Michigan State University. Straney received his B.S. and M.S. in zoology from Michigan State and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Forum Executive Committee, Idaho State University
Laura Woodworth-Ney is executive vice president and provost at Idaho State University. Previously, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and associate vice president for academic affairs. Woodworth-Ney’s former administrative appointments at ISU include chair of the department of history and co-director of women studies. She also served on the ISU faculty senate, both as a senator and as an elected member of the faculty senate executive committee. Woodworth-Ney is an active national speaker on topics in higher education and the humanities. Woodworth-Ney has authored more than 30 articles, book reviews, and scholarly essays, as well as three books (several co-authored). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Idaho, and a Ph.D. in American history and public history from Washington State University.
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, Reno
David Shintani is the vice provost for undergraduate education at the University of Nevada, Reno. He previously served as the associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno where he is a faculty member in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. Shintani earned his B.S degree in genetics from the University of California, Davis and his Ph.D. in botany and plant pathology from Michigan State University.
Forum Executive Committe, New Mexico State University
Carol Parker, J.D., serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at New Mexico State University. Previously, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at El Paso, and senior vice provost for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico, where she also served as associate dean for finance and administration and as a tenured professor of law. Parker received her Juris doctorate from Wayne State University Law School, a master’s degree in information science from The University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Michigan State University’s Honor’s College.
Forum Executive Committee, University of North Dakota
debbie.storrs@UND.edu NORTH DAKOTA
Debbie Storrs serves as the senior vice provost at the University of North Dakota where she provides leadership in the areas of strategic enrollment management, student academic support, the international center, the registrar’s office, and the Teaching Transformation and Development Academy. She works closely with academic deans on curriculum, personnel, and budgetary planning. Storrs earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Alaska and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon. As a tenured full professor in sociology, she is interested in group dynamics, organizational effectiveness, change management, diversity, equity and inclusion.
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, 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
Anne Alexander is interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Wyoming (UW). Alexander’s research and teaching focuses on the history of American capitalism, international economics, and health economics. Prior to her position in academic affairs, she was the director of international programs and associate dean of outreach at UW. She has also served as a resources economist in the U.S. Department of State, assistant dean of the UW College of Business, and director of the interdisciplinary Health Economics Policy Center at UW. She is an alumnus of Leadership Wyoming, Class of 2013. Alexander earned her Ph.D. in economics at UW, and her master’s and B.B.A. in economics from New Mexico State University.