Statement from WICHE President Demarée Michelau:
We are saddened by the tragic news that Dr. Sheila Stearns, one of our WICHE Commissioners from Montana, has passed away. Her death is a tremendous loss to all who knew her, and our hearts go out to her family, her colleagues, and her many friends as they navigate this new reality.
Sheila served as a WICHE Commissioner three separate times (2003-2006; 2010-2013; 2018 to present), and her contributions to higher education were many. She was the first woman to hold the position of commissioner of higher education in Montana and served as the state’s longest-tenured commissioner as well. Prior to becoming commissioner of higher education, Sheila was the 18th president of the University of Montana, provost and chancellor for UM Western in Dillon, and president of Wayne State College in Nebraska.
You can read more about her here in a statement from the University of Montana.
Sheila committed her career to bringing the numerous benefits of higher education to Montana’s residents and to the state’s economic vitality, and her impact will surely last for generations.
Sheila was a wife, mother, friend, and colleague, and she will be sorely missed.