Demarée Michelau appointed president of Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

  • Year Published : 2018
  • Month Published : November

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has appointed Dr. Demarée Michelau president of the regional interstate higher education agency serving 16 Western members, including U.S. states, territories, and freely associated states and their 80 million residents.

Michelau, whose appointment was approved this morning by WICHE commissioners at their biannual meeting in Broomfield, Colo, will lead WICHE’s 65-member staff from WICHE’s Boulder, Colo. office and manage WICHE’s $27+million annual budget. Michelau will assume the role by January 1, 2019.

A 16-year veteran of WICHE, Michelau brings outstanding higher education and leadership acumen to this role. In her current role as vice president of policy analysis and research at WICHE, 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.She also has overseen and authored numerous research reports and data analyses—on topics ranging from equity and attainment, to articulation and transfer, to adult learning and workforce development—that provide context and analysis for diverse higher education stakeholders.

She also has managed a Legislative Advisory Committee composed of WICHE-region state legislators and commission representatives, and the commission’s Policy Analysis and Research committee. She has testified before state legislatures to inform policymaking related to varied facets of higher education, efforts also informed by prior roles with the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado Ski Country USA, and in the office of former Colorado Rep. David Skaggs. She received her bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“In an extraordinarily robust candidate pool, Michelau stood out through her ability to build partnerships, work with diverse stakeholders,and provide influential thought-leadership that will help WICHE serve the higher education priorities of Western states, students, and institutions.”said Clayton Christian, commissioner of the Montana University System and chair of the WICHE Commission throughout the search process. “My commission colleagues and I are eager to work in close alignment with Michelau and her talented staff to expand educational access and excellence throughout the West.

Michelau becomes only the 8th president in WICHE’s 65-year history, and its first woman president. “WICHE is an exceptional organization, and I am both honored and thrilled to be named its next President. Since 1953, WICHE has been a leading voice in higher education,and I look forward to working with the Commission, staff, and partners from across the country to build on its history of success to create a forward-thinking vision for improving educational opportunities for all residents of the West.

Michelau’s selection concludes a months-long process that included a search committee composed of WICHE commissioners and staff, a WICHE Executive Committee recommendation of this candidate for consideration by the full commission, and a unanimous formal vote of WICHE members Friday in Broomfield.

David Longanecker (WICHE’s president from 1999 through 2016)has filled this WICHE president role on an interim basis in the months since the mid-2018 departure of Joe Garcia, the most recent long-term WICHE president who now leads the Colorado Community College System. “I’m thrilled to see the Commission has chosen Michelau,” Longanecker said. “In her 15+ years working closely with me at WICHE, she has become a highly trusted advisor and advocate for higher education access and equity, and an able and compassionate team leader. She’s exceptionally well-suited to maintain and expand upon WICHE’s recent positive momentum.”

This recent positive momentum is reflected in numerous ways including:

  • Major recent grant awards from federal and foundation partners, including a new $3.5 million federal award for WICHE’s Behavioral Health Program to co-launch a Mental Health Technology Transfer Center and a $990,000 award from Lumina Foundation to support student success for Native Americans and Alaska Natives pursuing higher education at nontribal institutions.
  • Record-setting student participation in the Western Undergraduate Exchange and other WICHE Student Access Programs, which together saved 42,000-plus students more than $400 million on nonresident tuition in the 2017-18 academic year.
  • Significant regional and national media coverage and dialogue on influential ideas and initiatives spawned at WICHE, including its Knocking at the College Door report that projects high school graduate populations and trends, and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) whose 30th annual meeting in October drew 475 attendees.

About WICHE: Established by Congress in 1953, WICHE is one of four regional interstate compacts in the U.S. Its programs and efforts help student pursue higher education affordably and conveniently, accelerate regionwide sharing of ideas and resources, provide expert research and policy guidance, and help higher education stakeholders thrive amidst rapid change. WICHE is funded by its members—who reap strong returns on investment from WICHE programs—and by grantmakers and others who share our desire to overcome the education and workforce challenges of tomorrow. Visit our website for more information.

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