The December 2017 newsletter from the leading regional agency serving
higher education throughout and beyond the American West

DACA, free speech, campus mental health were key topics at WICHE Nov. meeting

DACA, free speech, campus mental health were key topics at WICHE Nov. meeting

November ommission meeting speakers: Gov John Hickenlooper, Patty Limerick and Clayton Christian

Though WICHE’s Fall Commission Meeting occurred in a Denver hotel, it never strayed far from the topic of higher education—or its delivery. Four feet behind the rear wall of the meeting’s SpringHill Suites Denver conference space was a Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) classroom wing housing its academic hospitality program, integrated with the hotel in order to foster student/industry interaction.

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson gave attendees a warm welcome, then moderated a panel on the higher education implications of proposed changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “Those in higher education leadership must recast the DACA issue as one of education and workforce for our country,” advised panelist and legal advocate Thomas Saenz. “You all know [these undocumented students] are going to fill the workforce needs of our country.”

An address by noted scholar and Colorado state historian Patricia Limerick explored the lineage and contexts in which college campuses recall and honor controversial personalities and historical events. “You could hypothesize that putting historic figures on high pedestals, and turning them into metal, is the best way to kill interest in them,” Limerick said. “Curiosity just withers.”

Dennis Mohatt, WICHE vice president of behavioral health, and Charles Smith, SAMHSA regional administrator, drew attention to campus mental health issues. Mohatt reinforced to attendees, “The age of onset for most serious mental illnesses exactly coincides with the age range that is our primary target for higher education. That’s when these things emerge. And they emerge when they are on campus."

Amid the business proceedings from the 48-member commission’s biannual meeting, attendees also toured MSU highlights including its new aerospace engineering sciences building and the historic venue that hosts MSU’s brewing sciences program (yup… that would be a pub).

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper visited on the meeting’s final day to tout Colorado’s innovations in cybersecurity education and workforce development, rap a few stanzas (really!) from the hit musical Hamilton, and inspire commissioners to continue collaborating to bolster the West’s regional strengths. “You can build a legacy that can last decades beyond your service,” Hickenlooper said.

View WICHE’s Flickr album from the meeting.

Michelau appointed new president of WICHE

Michelau appointed new president of WICHE

Dr. Demarée Michelau
Dr. Demarée Michelau,
WICHE president

Dr. Demarée Michelau has been appointed president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, a role she began Dec. 10. Michelau leads WICHE’s 65-member staff from WICHE’s Boulder, Colo. office and manages WICHE’s $27+ million annual budget. 

A 16-year veteran of WICHE, Michelau brings outstanding higher education and leadership acumen to this role, most recently in her current role as WICHE’s vice president of policy analysis and research in which she has led the thought-leadership and production of numerous higher education initiatives on behalf of state and institutional partners throughout the Western United States. 

WICHE Commission elects 2018-19 officers, welcomes five new commissioners

WICHE Commission elects 2018-19 officers, welcomes five new commissioners

Sen. Ray Holmberg
Sen. Ray Holmberg,
WICHE Commission
chair

North Dakota State Sen. Ray Holmberg was elected chair of the WICHE Commission at its meeting Nov. 9 in Broomfield, Colo., while Oregon Community College Association Executive Director Camille Preus was elected vice chair.

In this role, Sen. Holmberg will lead WICHE’s gubernatorially appointed 48-member commission of higher education leaders through November 2019—at which time WICHE’s vice chair traditionally steps up to serve as chair for the subsequent year. Holmberg succeeds 2017-18 WICHE Commission Chair Clayton Christian, who continues as commissioner and for 2018-19 will serve as one of the WICHE Commission’s three principal officers, along with Holmberg and Preus.

Also this fall, WICHE welcomes five new commissioners representing three WICHE states:

  • Arizona: Rita H. Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University, and Kathleen H. Goeppinger, president and CEO of Midwestern University
  • Montana: Laurie Bishop, member of the Montana House of Representatives, and Sheila M. Stearns, former Montana commissioner of higher education
  • South Dakota: Paul B. Beran, executive director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents

WICHE to launch two major initiatives thanks to Lumina Foundation support

WICHE to launch two major initiatives thanks to Lumina Foundation support

Lumina Foundation Logo

Nearly $1.4 million in grant awards from Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation will enable two substantial WICHE projects to commence this month. A $990,000 three-year grant will help WICHE’s programs and services team develop a network of Native-Serving Institutions to help close attainment gaps for American Indians and Alaska Natives. And a $400,000 two-year grant enables WICHE’s policy and research team to establish a task force in partnership with selected Western states to develop broadly applicable evidence-based strategies to close postsecondary education attainment gaps.

In the coming months, we will illuminate more about these exciting WICHE initiatives.

Feds tap WICHE for key role fighting opioid epidemic in Western states

WICHE to play key technical assistance role on Federal opioid-prevention grant

HRSA Logo

A four-year, $19 million grant awarded recently to JBS International by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration designates the WICHE Behavioral Health Program as the technical assistance lead for developing opioid-related prevention, treatment, and recovery services in rural areas of Colorado, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.

WICHE will help 16 hospitals, rural organizations, and academic institutions in those states to build cross-sector community partnerships, recruit and train staff, and develop integrated and innovative models of care, including telehealth services. Rural populations have been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic (which claims 116 lives a day nationwide), and face a variety of challenges, including limited access to substance abuse treatment and recovery services.

Montana higher-ed chief elected to chair WICHE commission

Montana higher-ed chief elected to chair WICHE commission

Clayton Christian

We congratulate Clayton Christian, who was elected chair of WICHE’s commission at its November meeting. Christian has been Montana’s commissioner of higher education since 2012 and has chaired the state’s board of regents. North Dakota State Sen. Ray Holmberg was elected to serve as WICHE’s vice chair. Also, WICHE welcomes new commissioner Chester “Chet” Burton, chief financial officer of the Nevada System of Higher Education and former president of Western Nevada College.

 

Over 100 leaders from 34 Colorado schools take part in 2nd cyberprep exercise

Over 100 leaders from 34 Colorado schools take part in 2nd cyberprep exercise

Mike Abbiatti, WICHE vice president for technology-enhanced education
Mike Abbiatti, WICHE vice president for
technology-enhanced education

WICHE partnered with the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Campus Resilience Program to convene a leadership tabletop cyber-exercise Nov. 30 in Denver to help higher education institutions prepare for cyber threats. Participants worked through a moderated exercise scenario and discussed actionable approaches to directing and bolstering the resilience of their campus communities.

Colorado is only the second state to participate in this state-specific series of exercises, which inaugurated in February in North Dakota and will expand to other states in the coming years. As Mike Abbiatti, WICHE vice president for technology-enhanced education, puts it, “Cyber threats in higher education are based on the fact that all institutions are now digital institutions. Technology development moves much faster than our ability to protect our personal data."

Reading room: Annual Report, Tuition and Fees, Legislative Update

Reading room: Annual Report, Tuition and Fees, Legislative Update

  • WICHE’s 2017 Annual Report summarizes the breadth and depth of WICHE’s work to increase access and affordability in higher education, nurture interstate collaboration, and promote sound public policy. New this year, it includes a summary of audited financial data for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.
  • WICHE’s annual Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West: 2017-18, released Nov. 10, found that tuition/fees for resident undergraduates at Western public colleges and universities increased 4 to 4.3 percent last year. Though steeper than seen in immediate recent years, these increases are modest compared with those between 2007-08 and 2011-12. WICHE this year debuted a longitudinal view of undergraduate student fees: In six of 15 WICHE states, these fees jumped over 100 percent this past decade, but sharp fee cuts in California and South Dakota led to an aggregate fee decrease in the region.
  • 2017 Higher Ed Legislative Activity in the West: What You Need to Know, released Nov. 15, sheds light on key trends affecting higher education in Western state legislatures. Last session, higher education budgets in energy-dependent states continued to shrink, while those in other Western states grew robustly. High on legislative agendas were student-centric cost and value concerns, with an emphasis on “free-college” programs and credential attainment. And bills focused on data and governance were among ways legislators grappled with the productivity and effectiveness of public higher education.

WICHE Reading Room

WICHE Reading Room

Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West 2018-19
A dashboard snapshot from Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West 2018-19
  • The newly published Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West 2018-19, which assembles data from 350-plus WICHE-region institutions, shows a continuing trend of modest annual increases over the past five years. Tuition and fees for resident undergraduates at four-year WICHE-region institutions average $9,518 in 2018-19 (up 1.6 percent increase from 2017-18), while for in-district students at two-year WICHE-region institutions (excluding California) the average is $3,870 (up 3.1 percent).  
  • The Regional Factbook for Higher Education in the West, updated regularly by WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit, features the latest regional and state-specific data reflecting key policy indicators in areas such as demographics, affordability, and finance, as well as student preparation, enrollment, and completion.

Ed-tech leadership, innovation honored at WCET’s annual meeting

Ed-tech leadership, innovation honored at WCET’s annual meeting

WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Logo

One of the nation’s predominant postsecondary education technology gatherings occurred Oct. 25-27 as the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) hosted its 29th annual meeting in Denver. Kicking off with a thought-provoking presentation on sensory capabilities by Mike Hess, founder and executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology, WCET program sessions spanned over 50 topics ranging from game-based learning, to the lifespan of instructional technologies, to fostering greater support for women in STEM fields.

At the meeting, faculty members Bucky Dodd of the University of Central Oklahoma and Peter P. Smith of the University of Maryland University College were honored with two of WCET’s primary annual awards for individual achievement: the Richard Jonsen Award and the Sally M. Johnstone Award, named after (respectively) a former WICHE executive director and WCET’s founder. Check out our meeting recap on the WCET Frontiers blog.

Ed-tech leadership, innovation honored at WCET’s annual meeting

Ed-tech leadership, innovation honored at WCET’s annual meeting

Thomas Cavanagh, vice president for digital learning at the University of Central Florida, and Heather Nash, associate director of academic innovations and eLearning at the University of Alaska Anchorage
Thomas Cavanagh,
University of
Central Florida,
winner of the 2018
Richard Jonsen Award
Heather Nash,
University of Alaska,
winner of the 2018
Sally M. Johnstone
Award

One of the nation’s preeminent postsecondary education-technology gatherings took place Oct. 23-25 as the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) hosted its 30th annual meeting in Portland, Ore. Sessions for the 439 attendees spanned over 40 topics ranging from software procurement, to support for military-affiliated students, to multi-campus course-sharing, to the rapid growth of non-accredited providers serving students in online, blended, and face-to-face modes. See our meeting recap on the WCET Frontiers blog.

At the meeting, Thomas Cavanagh, vice president for digital learning at the University of Central Florida, and Heather Nash, associate director of academic innovations and eLearning at the University of Alaska Anchorage, were honored with two of WCET’s primary annual awards: the Richard Jonsen Award and the Sally M. Johnstone Award, named after, respectively, a former WICHE executive director and WCET’s founder.

WCET leads dialogue on controversial WGU federal audit

WCET leads dialogue on controversial WGU federal audit

Western Governors University Logo

Speaking of WCET Frontiers, this blog has been on the pulse of recent debate about the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General recommendation that the nonprofit online Western Governors University (WGU) be forced to pay back more than $700 million in federal financial aid for failing to ensure “regular and substantive interaction” between faculty and students.

What constitutes “adequate” faculty-student interaction in distance and competency-based education? That was the focus of a Nov. 16 WCET webcast in which panelists discuss the government recommendation, WGU’s response, and the implications for the growing field of competency-based education in which WGU is considered a major player.

Western Academic Leadership Academy invites nominations for 2019 cohort

Western Academic Leadership Academy invites nominations for 2019 cohort

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Feb. 15, 2019 is the deadline to nominate candidates for the next cohort of participants in the Western Academic Leadership Academy, a yearlong professional development program for WICHE-region aspiring chief academic officers.

The Academy consists of a three-day seminar in Boulder, Colo., followed by webinars, mentoring, and other activities over the year with guidance from Academy faculty (all sitting or recently retired provosts) and guest experts on fundraising, budgeting, diversity, legislative relations, and other topics. The Academy was launched in 2014 to help expand the pipeline of deans and other leaders prepared to advance to a chief academic officer position. Candidates must hold a position of dean or higher at a Western Academic Leadership Forum member institution. Submit nomination materials to Pat Shea, director of academic leadership initiatives.

Nominations due Feb. 15 for 2018 Western Academic Leadership Academy

Nominations due Feb. 15 for 2018 Western Academic Leadership Academy

July 2018 in Boulder, a cohort of 17 WICHE-region senior academic leaders will begin the Western Academic Leadership Academy, a yearlong program designed to help these individuals develop the skills and knowledge for lead academic administrator (provost or equivalent) positions at four-year institutions. We encourage institutional chief academic officers to nominate colleagues (with rank of dean or higher) by Feb. 15 to participate in this preeminent professional development program.

Interstate Passport ramps up outreach

Interstate Passport ramps up outreach

Interstate Passport Logo

Interstate Passport, a WICHE-based program that facilitates seamless transfer of general education lower-division credits across state lines, launched a new website and a nationwide outreach campaign directed toward students, media outlets, and college and university leaders.

 

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.

Helping Hawai'i improve services for children with special health needs

Helping Hawai‘i improve services for children with special health needs

The findings of a recent study by WICHE’s Mental Health Program make the case for the Hawaii Department of Health to increase its reimbursement rates for occupational therapy, speech pathology, and other early-intervention services for children with special health needs. The study found that Hawai‘i’s comparatively low reimbursement rates have hampered efforts to retain providers and improve services.


Midwestern higher-ed compact MHEC welcomes new president

Midwestern higher-ed compact MHEC welcomes new president

Susan Heegaard
Susan Heegaard,
president, Midwestern
Higher Education
Compact (MHEC) 

Susan Heegaard, former commissioner/director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and a senior consultant for Lumina Foundation Strategy Labs, has assumed leadership of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), which serves 12 states in the nation’s heartland. She succeeds Larry Isaak, who as MHEC president since 2003 developed several cost-saving initiatives that benefit both MHEC and WICHE member states, including the Master Property Program, MHECtech, MHECare, and a new cyber insurance program.

On the road: Selected recent and upcoming WICHE-led presentations

On the road: Selected recent and upcoming WICHE-led presentations

On the road:

On the road: Selected recent or upcoming WICHE-led presentations

You heard it from WICHE

You heard it from WICHE

Arezo_Amerzada, University of Nevada Reno senior
Arezo Amerzada
University of Nevada
Reno senior

“My big takeaway is that even with a modest state investment, OER can yield really high student cost savings, if it’s a good plan and if it’s implemented well.”

—Tanya Spilovoy, WCET director of open policy, on a state auditor’s report that showed North Dakota students saved over $1 million on textbooks after the state spent $110,000 to help instructors use open educational resources. 

“This is the perfect balance for me. I was able to get distance from home, but be close enough where a drive back home was doable, and save a ton of money.”

—University of Nevada Reno senior Arezo Amerzada, who saves thousands annually on tuition through the Western Undergraduate Exchange, as detailed in this EdSource feature on WUE in California. Unlike “almost all her friends who stayed in California,” Amerzada is set to graduate this spring on time, four years after she started.

You heard it from WICHE | December 2017

You heard it from WICHE

Joe Garcia“By graduating more first-generation and minority students … you are helping to strengthen our democracy. That sounds big and lofty, but that’s exactly what you are doing. Don’t ever underestimate your role in being able to make that happen.”
WICHE President Joe Garcia, addressing College Board senior leaders and early-career financial aid officers Oct. 16 in Denver

Mike Abbiattie, WCET Executive Director“In higher ed… everyone from the chancellor to the newest freshman has quite an array of personal technology devices that he or she brings with them every day.
There has to be an actionable agenda on the part of the university
to leverage these things for research, teaching and learning.”
WCET Executive Director Mike Abbiatti in an Oct. 11 Inside Higher Ed story on Apple’s new partnership with Ohio State University