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New slate of executive officers elected to lead Midwestern Higher Education Compact

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) assumed the position of commission chair for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) last week after being elected last fall and serving a year term as vice chair. Shown, prior chair Randy Ferlic presents Harsdorf with the commission gavel.

Last week State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), chair of the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges for the Wisconsin Legislature, assumed the position of commission chair for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) after being elected last fall and serving a year term as vice chair. MHEC’s commissioners conducted business during their annual commission meeting in Omaha, Neb., on Nov. 17-18. 

Elected at this meeting as vice chair was Suzanne Morris, vice chair of the Illinois Community College Board, and Sen. David Pearce, chair of the Senate Education Committee for the Missouri General Assembly, as MHEC treasurer. 

“I am honored to be selected to serve as commission chair and look forward to working with policy makers and higher education stakeholders from throughout the Midwest to address challenges facing higher education,” said Harsdorf. “MHEC is an outstanding organization that seeks to further cooperative relationships, find cost savings through collaboration and offer innovative products and services that benefit member states.” 

Harsdorf was initially appointed in February of 2003 to fill a vacancy. She has since been reappointed three times serving two-year terms. 

“Sen. Harsdorf’s leadership of a legislative higher education committee will provide a broad perspective necessary during this time of significant change in higher education,” stated President Larry Isaak. “We look forward to her leadership as chair of the Commission.” 

Commissioners took action on a number of items including the revised State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. They also heard statewide updates from fellow commissioners as well as a regional update from the Midwestern office of The Council of State Governments. 

Legislators and higher education leaders of MHEC’s governing board joined additional education practitioners, researchers and policymakers to discuss the increased attention that have risen from MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and the growth of open educational resources (OER) and their potential to drive significant change in the higher education enterprise, including faculty roles, funding and budgeting, student support services, learning outcome definition and assessment, academic credit and credentialing, and the teaching and learning process during MHEC’s ninth annual policy summit following their business meeting.

The summit focused on a variety of interest sessions that addressed how to position colleges, universities, and higher education systems to be prepared for potential changes brought by MOOCs and OER. 

Commissioners meet twice a year. Harsdorf will chair the Executive Committee meeting June 4-6, 2014, in St. Paul, MN, and November 16-18, in Milwaukee, WI. 

About MHEC

Since its formation in 1991, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, 105 Fifth Avenue South Suite 450, Minneapolis, Minn., has been committed to cost-savings programs, student access and policy research and analysis.

The compact consists of twelve member states:Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Statutorily created, the member states’ five commissioners are appointed and are leaders from higher education, the legislature, and the governor’s office. 

MHEC is headquartered in Minneapolis and led by President Larry Isaak. For more information about the compact, visit or call 612-677-2777. For a list of all MHEC commissioners, visit