The commissioners of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) unanimously appointed Dr. David A. Longanecker interim president of the primary interstate higher education agency serving 16 states and territories, encompassing a Western U.S. population of 80 million, at its biannual governing meeting Tuesday in Missoula.
Longanecker will succeed Joseph A. Garcia, who is leaving WICHE to become president of the Colorado Community College System early this summer. Longanecker’s appointment is effective June 1.
The interim appointment ensures not only unparalleled expertise at the helm of WICHE, but also stability. Longanecker was president for WICHE from 1999 through 2016, and is intimately familiar with WICHE’s programs that increase access, expertise, innovation, and collaboration across the Western higher education landscape.
“We won’t miss a beat, and that’s one of our main priorities in this transition,” says Clayton Christian, Montana commissioner of higher education and chair of the WICHE commission. “This enables Joe Garcia, who has been an exemplary ambassador for WICHE during his two years as president, to transition to his new role and enable our staff to continue their efforts in a seamless way.”
Prior to his 17-year tenure at WICHE, Longanecker was assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, and has been the chief higher education executive officer in the states of Colorado and Minnesota. Longanecker has served on numerous higher education boards and commissions—including for the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which was founded at WICHE under his tenure and is now based adjacent to WICHE’s Boulder, Colo. offices.
The commission is embarking on a search process for a long-term president who will lead WICHE’s 65-member staff and strategic direction.
Since departing WICHE, Longanecker returned to higher education as a student, securing a commercial driver’s license from Aims Community College in Greeley, Colo.—many decades after completing his Ed. D. from Stanford University, his M.A. from The George Washington University, and his B.A. from Washington State University—and pursuing his long-term personal ambition to be a truck driver.
“I am both honored and appreciative of the faith the commission is placing on me in drawing me back into the WICHE fold as the interim president. I thoroughly enjoyed my years with WICHE prior to retirement two years ago, and I’m happy to be back in this interim role.
About WICHE: Established by Congress in 1953, WICHE is one of four regional interstate compacts in the U.S. WICHE’s programs include the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which saves more than 40,000 students more than $375 million annually in tuition; a report, Knocking at the College Door, that’s the nation’s preeminent resource for demography projections of college-age students; and WCET, the leading U.S. convener for innovation in educational technology. Visit our website for more information.