A Message from WICHE Chair Michael Rush
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) was developed out of a time-tested practice in the West – neighbors helping neighbors to deal with the harsh realities of living and thriving in a vast frontier. The need for collaboration has not lessened in today’s world.
This past year as WICHE chair has given me a unique perspective to reflect on the value of our organization. I began the year as a Commissioner from Idaho and finished as a Commissioner from South Dakota. I discovered that WICHE provided a robust platform to deal with the challenges that are common among us, but that are also unique to each state. I was able to benefit from national expertise informed by the latest research in higher education policy. I was able to see first-hand how WICHE’s various student exchange programs strengthened and expanded our ability to meet critical needs with limited re-sources. I was also able to draw from the wisdom of my colleagues, each dealing with similar issues in a variety of complex settings.
Another unique experience that has informed my perspective has been the selection process for a new president. When Dr. David Longanecker announced his retirement earlier this year, he graciously agreed to stay on as long as it took to hire an able replacement. The announcement of his retirement resulted in a wave of unsolicited comments from people across the country about how much they valued and respected the role WICHE has played in higher education policy and delivery. It also resulted in a number of highly qualified candidates applying for the job of president. As of this writing, we are still in the process of deciding on a new leader.
The events of this year have allowed me to reflect on how blessed this organization has been under the stewardship of David Longanecker. His insights and leadership have put a permanent positive stamp on higher education in this country and beyond. He has accomplished this through his willingness to lead where others have shied away, his commitment to helping states wrestle with tough problems, his wisdom, his tireless and generous use of time for constant travel and just-in-time problem solving, and his unflappable good humor and ability to put people from all political persuasions at ease. He leaves an organization that is well respected, on sound financial footing, and positioned for continued effective leadership in higher education. He will be missed.
Executive Director, South Dakota Board of Regents