Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission since 2013, has been appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) commission, the governing board of the primary regional higher education agency serving a population of 80 million across 16 member states and territories.
In this role, which carries a four-year term, Cannon will be one of three Oregon representatives governing WICHE’s robust and diverse portfolio of higher education programs, research, and policy work. He will occupy the commission seat previously held by Ryan Deckert.
Cannon oversees state funding allocations, policy-setting, and coordination for Oregon’s higher education system. Elected three times to the Oregon House of Representatives (2006-11), he chaired House committees with jurisdiction over environment, energy, and water policy. From 2003 to 2011, he taught humanities to middle school students at the Arbor School of Arts and Education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University, and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he subsequently earned a graduate degree.
“Commissioner Cannon’s intimate familiarity with higher education and legislative matters, in conjunction with his collegial and collaborative mindset, will be of great service to WICHE and to Oregon’s broad higher education landscape,” Garcia said. “I look forward to his partnership as WICHE serves individuals and communities throughout and beyond the West.”
WICHE’s work, in aggregate, improves public higher education affordability, access, and resource-sharing throughout and beyond the Western U.S. Its 48-member commission includes many presidents of two- and four-year colleges and universities, chief higher education executives for most of WICHE’s member states, and other legislative and higher education leaders.
“As director of Oregon’s higher education agency, I’ve seen how this important organization fosters the sharing of data, ideas, and best practices among stakeholders throughout the West,” Cannon says. “Now as a WICHE Commissioner, I look forward to continued engagement and collaboration across state lines on ways to ensure our institutions and stakeholder strategies all align to help students succeed.
WICHE’s many programs include the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which saves more than 40,000 students over $375 million annually in tuition; a report, Knocking at the College Door, that’s the nation’s preeminent resource for college-demography projections; the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, the leading U.S. convener for innovation in educational technology; and a Mental Health program that provides behavioral health technical assistance and workforce development for Western institutions and communities. Based in Boulder, Colo., WICHE was established by U.S. Congress in 1953.