Since 1953, Montana has partnered with and benefited from WICHE through regional collaboration, resource-sharing, sound public policy, and innovation.

WICHE Commissioners

Laurie Bishop

Representative, Montana State Legislature

* Clayton Christian

Commissioner of Higher Education, Montana University System

Sheila Stearns

Past President, University of Montana

Legislative Advisory Committee

David Bedey

Representative, Montana State Legislature

Laurie Bishop

Representative, Montana State Legislature

JP Pomnichowski

Senator, Montana State Legislature

Daniel Salomon

Senator, Montana State Legislature


Provides strong return on investment

  • 1,114 Montana residents saved $7.57 million in 2019-20 through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) and the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). These WICHE programs provide significant student savings on nonresident tuition at 170+ Western U.S. public colleges and universities.
  • In 2019-20 WICHE Student Access Programs provided Montana a 405 percent return on investment, relative to the state’s annual WICHE dues.
  • Montana students and their families have saved over $730 million since the state first began participating in WUE.
  • The Master Property Program (MPP) helps institutions reduce their insurance premiums and improve their coverage. The MPP includes more than 170 campuses with total insured values of over $100 billion.

Helps Montana attract students from other states

WICHE maps highlighting Montana student migration
WICHE maps highlighting Montana student migration
  • WUE and WRGP incentivized 2,639 students this year to invest their tuition dollars in Montana.

Bolsters Montana’s health workforce

  • WICHE’s Behavioral Health Program (BHP) is working with Montana State Hospital to strengthen patient care and unit operation.
  • The WICHE BHP is modifying and delivering suicide prevention training to native-serving primary care clinics, primarily located on reservations.
  • Funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health, Together With Veterans (TWV) is a partnership of the BHP, the VA Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC), and local organizations that are run by or serve veterans. In Montana, the BHP has two established community sites. These rural communities are working, with the guidance of TWV, to enlist rural veterans and their local partners to join forces to reduce veteran suicide in their communities.
  • WICHE, partnering with the University of North Dakota, administers the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC). The Mountain Plains MHTTC serves the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming by establishing a collaborative network that strengthens the capacity of different systems, organizations, and treatment practitioners involved in the delivery of mental health services.
  • The WICHE BHP will provide consultation and technical assistance to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Addictive and Mental Disorders Division for the implementation of their Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). After conducting fidelity reviews, the WICHE BHP will design and implement improvement activities including education, training, and consultation, and help develop outcome measures and the creation of a dashboard to share data with the public.

Helps Montana allocate resources efficiently with data and policy analysis

  • WICHE offers various data and policy resources to support better-informed decision-making. WICHE’s research projects and collaborations cover postsecondary completion, closing attainment gaps, adult learners, and multistate data-sharing to support educational planning and workforce development.
  • WICHE staff serve as expert resources and provide technical assistance on finance, financial aid, articulation and transfer, strategic planning, student demographics, and more.
  • Our website features Benchmarks, an interactive dashboard featuring the most recent data available on the West’s progress in improving access to, success in, and the financing of higher education, as well as other useful resources.
  • WICHE’s quadrennial Knocking at the College Door report is regarded as the foremost U.S. resource for projections of college-ready students. An abundance of information can be found on the Knocking website, including publications and reports, projections data, interactive data dashboards, recorded webinars and presentations, and Montana’s state profile.

Fosters idea sharing

  • WICHE’s Legislative Advisory Committee provides valuable insights on trends and promising practices to Montana’s legislative leaders as they build partnerships with leaders in other Western states.
  • Six Montana institutions are members of the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum), a consortium of academic officers at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral institutions and chief executives and chief academic officers for systems and state governing boards. Montana members include Montana Technological University, Montana State University (MSU) – Bozeman, Montana State University – Billings, Montana University System, University of Montana, and University of Montana, Western. Academic leaders at community colleges (cc) and technical schools and at systems and state governing and coordinating boards associated with two-year institutions are members of the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance). The Montana members of the Alliance are Bitterroot College, City College at MSU – Billings, Dawson CC, Flathead Valley CC, Gallatin College, Great Falls College MSU, Helena College, Highlands College, Miles CC, Missoula College UM, Montana University System, MSU Northern, and University of Montana Western. Both the Forum and the Alliance exchange ideas and information, share resources and expertise, and collaborate on regional initiatives. Brock Tessman, Deputy Commissioner of the Montana University System, serves on the Forum and Alliance executive committees.
  • Montana State University – Billings, Montana State University – Bozeman, and University of Montana are all members of WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET’s growing membership includes almost 400 institutions, higher education agencies and systems, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations in all U.S. states and several Canadian provinces. Through its Frontiers blog, convenings, and active online discussions, WCET keeps members informed of the latest in policy change, regulations, and trends in educational technology. WCET also offers a host of resources related to educational technology and faculty support including advice and guidance for institutions on how to transition their face-to-face offerings to emergency online alternatives and how to increase quality in these courses over time.
  • The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a voluntary, state-led initiative designed to establish comparable standards for U.S. states and territories regulating postsecondary distance education. SARA expands access to postsecondary educational opportunities, while ensuring meaningful consumer protections for students and reducing regulatory red-tape for institutions. WICHE is responsible for coordinating the membership of SARA states in the West through the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA). See nc-sara.org/directory for a list of member institutions.
  • At the outset of the recent outbreak of COVID-19, WICHE quickly reacted, shifted to remote work, and continues to advance our mission. WICHE is facilitating peer-to-peer videoconferences for higher education leaders to connect and identify solutions to common challenges, to follow legislation passed in response to the crisis, and to identify emergency funding for students and higher education institutions. The WICHE BHP is hosting webinars that offer guidance to support the mental well-being of their students, and WCET is providing updates and resources to help institutions address issues that arise due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit WICHE’s COVID-19 resources page for up-to-date information.