Camille Preus, commissioner from Oregon, elected WICHE vice chair
BOULDER—North Dakota State Sen. Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks, N.D. was elected Nov. 9 as the new chair of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), at WICHE’s biannual commission meeting last week in Broomfield, Colo. WICHE, a federal compact of Western states and U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states, works collaboratively to expand higher education access and excellence throughout the West.
As chair through November 2019, Sen. Holmberg will lead WICHE’s gubernatorially appointed 48-member commission of higher education leaders. The commission governs a robust slate of program, research, and policy work—executed by WICHE’s staff of 65 based in Boulder, Colo.—that supports the higher education priorities of WICHE’s 16 state and Pacific Island members, which cumulatively serve a population of 80 million.
As a member of the North Dakota State Senate since 1976,representing District 17, Sen. Holmberg is one of the 10 longest-tenured state legislators in the United States. For the past year Sen. Holmberg, a WICHE commissioner since 2013, has served as WICHE’s vice chair in partnership with outgoing WICHE chair and Montana commissioner of higher education Clayton Christian.
His election was unanimous as was the vice chair election of Camille Preus, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association and a WICHE commissioner since 2002.
“Commissioner Holmberg’s record of leadership and higher education advocacy in North Dakota, his collegial and collaborative mindset, and his passion for public service are of great benefit to WICHE states and territories as well as their students and institutions,” Longanecker said. “As Demaree Michelau begins her new role as WICHE president in the coming weeks, Sen. Holmberg’s experience and wisdom will help make the transition as smooth as possible, and will suit him ideally as WICHE commission chair.”
Sen. Holmberg said he feels honored to help WICHE commissioners and staff serve the higher education needs of the Western U.S. and aims to reinforce WICHE’s role as an agent of collaboration. “When I was young, the box of Crayola crayons came in 64 colors, but unfortunately today’s politics often reduces that to only two colors: red and blue,” Holmberg says. “It’s important for organizations like WICHE to recognize the entire palette of colors as we work together with our 16 diverse members.”
Established by Congress in 1953, WICHE is one of four regional interstate higher education 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 high school graduate projections; a Behavioral Health Program that helps Western states bolster behavioral health systems, workforce, and care; and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, the leading U.S. convener for innovation in educational technology.