Ken Pepion, champion for expanding higher education access, retires

Ken Pepion retires, has championed higher education access

Ken Pepion
Ken Pepion

Ken Pepion’s leadership at WICHE over 25 years was bookended by two key initiatives. In the mid-1990s, as director of the Compact for Faculty Diversity and Minority Doctoral Scholars programs, he partnered with Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) staff to build what has become the largest national network of minority doctoral candidates aspiring to faculty careers: a network that continues to grow as hundreds of scholars convene each fall at the Institute for Teaching and Mentoring.

In 2000, Pepion, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, left WICHE to serve as executive director of Harvard University’s Native American Program, and then served in posts at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Fort Lewis College. Pepion returned to WICHE in 2017 to lead a Lumina Foundation-funded initiative aimed at improving postsecondary attainment for American Indian and Alaska Native students. In a blog post on the ACT Equity in Learning website, written shortly before his WICHE retirement in November, he described this work as the capstone of his career. In retirement, Pepion and his wife, Leslyn, plan to enjoy spending time at home in Durango and traveling throughout the West.