The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) was created by Laws 1952, Chapter 104. Current authority for WICHE can be found A.R.S. §§15-741 et seq.
WICHE oversees the Compact for Western Regional Cooperation in Higher Education; currently 15 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) and 1 U.S. territory (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) belong to the Compact.
WICHE helps these states share higher education resources, often in the form of initiatives. These initiatives can focus on one or more states and a wide range of topics. One current initiative created an Internet Course Exchange (ICE), allowing students at WICHE ICE schools to take online courses from any other WICHE ICE member institutions. Another focuses on attracting and retaining psychologists in Alaska as part of a broader plan to increase and train the mental health workforce in Western states.
WICHE is based in Boulder, CO and composed of 3 gubernatorial appointments from each member state, 1 of whom must be an educator engaged in higher education. Terms are for 4 years and the body must meet at least once a year. Any vote requires at least one representative from each state and territory and a simple majority to pass. Additionally, a chairman and vice-chairman are elected from among the commissioners. The Commission can also make personnel decisions to carry out the purpose of the Compact.WICHE is also empowered to place Arizona students in higher education programs outside of the Compact states and territories (A.R.S. § 15-1743). This does, however, require a written agreement between WICHE and the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).Arizona students interested in placement in a graduate or professional school in a Compact state must be processed and certified by ABOR, at which time their names and other required data will be passed on to WICHE by Arizona’s Commission members.
The Compact for Western Regional Cooperation in Higher Education was created because many of the member states and territories lacked a sufficient number of students to make providing a full range of graduate and professional education programs feasible. Arizona formally enacted the Compact in law on March 25th, 1952 (Laws 1952, Chapter 104). Many of the signatory states and (then) territories faced a problem that many still wrestle with today: too few students to justify all of the graduate and professional programs needed in their states. The Compact created a way for these often large, but sparsely populated, states and territories to educate and retain professionals.
Laws 1953, Chapter 59 added the process for certifying Arizona students to participate, as well as repayment requirements. Upon graduation, students could forgo repaying the costs of the program they attended via the Compact by practicing their profession in Arizona; for every 2 years worked in Arizona, 1 year of school fees was forgiven. Those who failed to graduate, or did not practice their profession in Arizona, were required to repay the full amount.
Laws 1958, Chapter 92 updated the certification process and the requirements for forgiving their education costs, allowing those serving in a high need area in Arizona to have a year of education costs forgiven for every 6 months worked.Laws 1976, Chapter 9 empowered WICHE to place Arizona students in institutions outside of the Compact states and territories.
Laws 1981, Chapter 1 renumbered the Compact and WICHE-related statutes.
Laws 1983, Chapter 188 created a Collections Revolving Fund which was used to enforce contracts with students, including court costs, filing fees, etc.Sources
- Arizona Revised Statutes
- Session Laws
- Laws 1952, Chapter 104
- Laws 1953, Chapter 59
- Laws 1958, Chapter 92
- Laws 1981, Chapter 1
- Laws 1983, Chapter 188