The Western Academic Leadership Forum has a history of spearheading and guiding programs that benefit institutions in the WICHE region. Most recently, the Forum was involved in the creation of the WICHE Internet Course Exchange (WICHE ICE) which provides a strategy and an infrastructure by which members can exchange seats in internet-delivered courses and also enter into partnerships to co-develop and offer online programs in areas of need. Through ICE, members are making more efficient use of limited resources as they offer their students seamless access from their home institution to a broader array of online courses and programs than they could do independently.
Prior to its expansion to include all WICHE states in 2008, the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum), formerly known as the Northwest Academic Forum (NWAF), focused on the needs of the northwest region. ICE was an outgrowth of its Northwest Education Outreach Network (NEON) project which was supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and piloted the exchange of internet-delivered courses in nursing and supply chain management.
The Forum was also involved in the establishment of NorthWestNet, a research and education computer network, and the Northwest Academic Computing Consortium (NWACC), a nonprofit corporation which served as the governing board for NorthWestNet. Established in 1987, NorthWestNet connected major research institutions, government laboratories, and private corporations in six states. Services were expanded to over 130 organizations including universities, colleges, businesses, primary and secondary schools and school districts, government agencies, hospitals and clinics, libraries, and other nonprofit entities. NorthWestNet was spun off as a profit-making corporation and the Forum continues to explore new relationships with NWACC.