Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor (retired), University of Alaska Anchorage
Samuel (Sam) Gingerich, Co-Chair, recently retired from his position as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Anchorage after serving as the interim chancellor. Prior to these experiences, he served as the system vice president for academic affairs for the South Dakota Board of Regents, as provost at Mississippi University for Women, as interim president and as provost at Mesa State College (Colorado Mesa University), and as a faculty member and administrator at Northern State University (SD). Gingerich holds three degrees in chemistry: a Ph.D. from Montana State University, a M.S. from Cornell University, and a B.A. from Goshen College. He was instrumental in laying the foundation for the South Dakota system to join the Interstate Passport Network and in guiding the University of Alaska Anchorage to join as well.
Associate Vice President for Academic Programs and Policy, University of Hawai'i System
Debora Halbert is the associate vice president for academic programs and policy at the University of Hawai‘i System where she works on student success and transfer related issues. Prior to her current position, she was the associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Western Washington University and her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Prior to returning to Hawai‘i where she was a professor in the political science department teaching law, policy and also futures studies, she taught for 12 years at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. The University of Hawai’i System is comprised of three universities and seven community colleges; all are members of the Interstate Passport Network.
President Emerita, California State University, Northridge
Dianne Harrison is the fifth president of California State University, Northridge and began her appointment in June 2012. From 2006 to June 2012, she served as president of California State University, Monterey Bay. She served for nearly 30 years at Florida State University in various capacities, first as a faculty member, then as dean of social work, associate vice president for academic affairs, dean of graduate studies and vice president for academic quality and external programs. She is known for her commitment to students, academic excellence and strategic leadership. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master’s of Social Work and a bachelor’s in American Studies, both from the University of Alabama. A prolific researcher and writer, Harrison has published dozens of articles and two books. She served as a WICHE Commissioner from May 2011 until May 2020.
President, St. Phillip's College
Adena Loston is the 14th president of St. Philip’s College, our nation’s only Historically Black College and Hispanic-Serving Institution; she began her appointment in March 2007. Previously she served as the director of education and special assistant for Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate for the Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility and chief education officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at its Headquarters in Washington, DC. She has served as president of San Jacinto College South, executive dean/provost in the El Paso Community College District, dean of vocational education, budgets and facilities, and dean of professional programs at Santa Monica College, and has also served in other administrative educational capacities for the past 39 years. Loston is the product of a historically black college, Alcorn State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1973. She received her master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Bowling Green State University in 1974 and 1979, respectively.
Senior Advisor, Sola Solutions
George Mehaffy is a senior advisor for Sola Solutions, a position he has held since October 2019 when he retired after 20 years as the vice president for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Washington, D.C., a higher education association representing 420 public colleges and universities and their 3.9 million students. He has directed a number of innovative projects, including international programs with China and Liberia; a technology transformation annual conference with EDUCAUSE and the University of Central Florida; a transfer articulation project with community colleges; two major national studies of student success, and a number of other initiatives. He has more than 20 years of teaching and administrative experience in higher education in Texas, New Mexico, and California, and served for 33 years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, retiring as a Captain (0-6) in 2000. He earned a doctorate in education at The University of Texas at Austin.
President, Portland Community College
Mark Mitsui became President of Portland Community College in September 2016. Prior, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges at the U.S. Department of Education where he co-led the My Brother’s Keeper postsecondary completion interagency team. Before DC, he served as President of North Seattle College where he was the founding chair for Asian Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities. Before this, he served as Vice President of Student Services at South Seattle College. President Mitsui holds a B.S. in Physical Education from Western Washington University, and an M.A. in Education from the University of Washington.
President, Black Hills State University
Laurie Nichols is serving as the 11th president at Black Hills State University. She previously served as the president of the University of Wyoming, the first woman to hold that post, from May 2016 until June 2019. Prior positions include provost, vice president for academic affairs, interim president, and dean. She has secured numerous grants to collaborate with South Dakota tribal colleges in the areas of curriculum development and articulation. She was an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, class of 2006-2007, where she spent the fall semester on the campus of California State University at Fresno. Nichols has taught at the secondary and postsecondary levels in South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, Idaho and Iowa. She received her B.S. in secondary education from South Dakota State University. Advanced degrees include a M.Ed. in adult education from Colorado State University and Ph.D. in family and consumer sciences education/family studies from Ohio State University. She served as a WICHE Commissioner from May 2017 until June 2019.
Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District
Francisco Rodriguez, Co-Chair, began his tenure as chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) on June 1, 2014. Prior to his appointment as head of the nation’s largest community college district, Dr. Rodriguez served as superintendent/ president at MiraCosta Community College District (Oceanside, CA) for five years and president at Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, CA) for six years. Born and raised in San Francisco, Rodriguez attended the University of California, Davis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies and his master’s degree in community development. He received his Ph.D. in education from Oregon State University and serves as a lecturer in the doctoral education programs at Sacramento State University and at San Diego State University. He was a WICHE Commissioner from April 2017 until May 2020. LACCD’s nine colleges, which serve over 250,000 students, recently joined the Interstate Passport Network.
Chancellor, Nebraska State College System
Paul Turman began as chancellor of the Nebraska State College System (NSCS) in January of 2019. NSCS is comprised of three geographically diverse institutions that combined serve nearly 9,000 students and offer more than 200 degrees, certificate and pre-professional programs. Previously Turman served as the system vice president for academic affairs at the South Dakota Board of Regents, which governs the state’s six public universities. Before joining the Regents staff, he served as an associate professor at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and was recognized for outstanding teaching and service at the institutional and national levels. Throughout his academic career he has published 34 peer-reviewed research articles and co-authored four books. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2000 and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Dakota State University. He previously served as the co-chair of the Interstate Passport Review Board representing the four-year university sector from January 2017 until December 2018.
President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Belle Wheelan currently serves as president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans over 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and Secretary of Education. In several of those roles she was the first African American and/or woman to serve in those capacities. Dr. Wheelan received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas (1972) with a double major in psychology and sociology; her master’s from Louisiana State University (1974) in developmental educational psychology; and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin (1984) in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership.
Commissioner of Higher Education, Utah System of Higher Education
Dave Woolstenhulme became Commissioner of Higher Education on July 1, 2020, after serving as Interim Commissioner of Higher Education since July 2019 for the Utah System of Higher Education. Previously, he served as vice president of statewide campuses for Utah State University, a position he held since 2018. Prior to that he served as the Utah commissioner of technical education where he was the CEO for the Utah System of Technical Colleges, providing state-level leadership and oversight for the eight technical colleges in Utah. He also served as executive vice provost at USU, as well as president of Uintah Basin Applied Technology College. Dr. Woolstenhulme received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah State University, and his doctorate of education from the University of Wyoming. He has served as a WICHE Commissioner from July 2019 to the present. The Utah State Higher Education system with its ten public colleges and universities are members of the Interstate Passport Network.