The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) today appointed Russ Poulin vice president of technology-enhanced education for WICHE and executive director of WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies), WICHE President Demarée Michelau announced at the agency’s biannual commission meeting in Bismarck, N.D.
When he assumes the role June 1, he will lead WCET’s team of 12 executing an array of programs and initiatives related to higher education and technology, and will oversee a network of 385 WCET-member colleges, universities, and other North American organizations encompassing 6,000 active WCET constituents.
“Among a very strong pool of capable candidates, Poulin rose to the top based on his collaborative skills as a leader, expertise in his field and keen understanding of WCET member needs,” said Michelau, WICHE president. “His vision for taking WCET, already a well-respected, thriving member organization, into the future will surely sync well with the priorities of its members and WICHE as a whole.”
Poulin has been WCET senior director of policy, analysis, and strategic alliances, and was hired from the North Dakota University System in 1994 as WCET’s fourth full-time staff member. In the 25 years since, Poulin has become a linchpin contributor and leader for WCET and WICHE in nearly all facets of both operations and has been instrumental to building its membership network.
Earlier this year, Poulin participated for the second time in U.S. Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking panels, experiences on which he provided in-depth reporting and policy analysis on the WCET Frontiers blog that he edits. Projects he directed or played key roles in establishing include the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), Price and Cost of Distance Education report and the State Authorization Network, and he has played noteworthy roles consulting on distance education, research, financing, and implementation, as well as practical frameworks underpinning digital learning such as the Nursing Education Xchange.
Poulin is frequently quoted in news media and solicited for presentations on topics related to technology-enhanced education. He has been honored with industry awards including earlier this year the Nofflet Williams Service Award by the National University Technology Network. A full biography for Poulin is appended to the end of this release.
He was selected following a search process involving leaders from WICHE’s senior staff, WCET staff and the WICHE commission and from WCET’s member-elected executive council and steering committee.
I’m confident that under Russ Poulin’s leadership, WCET will continue to serve as the trusted thought leader on technology-enhanced learning, and that the community of practice that WCET has brought into being will thrive,” says Laura Pedrick, executive director of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Online and chair of the WCET executive council
“I look forward to his continued partnership and leadership as WCET extends its national influence as a hub of innovation in technology-enhanced education,” said Tina Parscal, executive director of CCCOnline at the Colorado Community College System and member of WCET’s steering committee.
Poulin succeeds Mike Abbiatti, who retired as WCET executive director in April after more than four years in the role and decades of service to higher education. WCET veteran Mollie McGill has led the unit in the interim since Abbiatti’s retirement.
“There has been an explosion of recent interest and activities in educational technologies, online learning, and technology-enhanced education. Opportunities abound, and success will depend on picking the options that best meet the needs of members and are sustainable,” Poulin said. “WCET has been my life’s work, and I am honored to lead the organization to new horizons.”
WCET was founded in 1989, and in addition to its member network manages a range of programs on higher education topics ranging from open educational resources, to state authorization, to adaptive technology. WCET staff also publish research reports, curate a digital forum and blog, and partner with other WICHE policy and program units on topical projects in cybersecurity, data-sharing, and prior learning assessment.
WCET hosts two major meetings a year, the next of which—the WCET Leadership Summit—will convene over 100 education-technology leaders and practitioners June 4-5, 2019 in Newport Beach, Calif. on the theme Workforce Partnerships that Work. WCET is one of four primary units at WICHE, the regional interstate higher education compact serving 16 Western state and territorial members encompassing 80 million residents. Though WICHE primarily serves the Western U.S., WCET—with members in each U.S. state and in Canada—is one of a handful of WICHE activities with scope and influence far beyond the West.
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.