Antwan Jefferson of the University of Colorado Denver to Chair WICHE Commission

Barbara Damron of the University of New Mexico to Become Vice Chair

BOULDER, Colorado – Antwan Jefferson, associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion and a clinical associate professor in the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, has been elected as chair of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Celebrating its 70th year this year, WICHE works collaboratively to expand access to higher education across the West by promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. The WICHE Commission is comprised of 48 commissioners from the 15 Western states and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. The commissioners are leaders in higher education and include state higher education executive officers, college and university presidents, legislators, business and community leaders, and other key partners. Together, they guide WICHE’s strategic direction and assure the Western Regional Education Compact, which was adopted by the Western states in 1953, is carried out for the benefit of the West.

“WICHE is about solving problems and fostering collaboration across the West,” Jefferson said. “I am grateful for the vote of confidence from the WICHE Commission to serve as chair, and I am inspired to continue our work together and bring more voice and visibility to our students in the region.”

Jefferson was most recently the Commission’s vice chair and has been a WICHE Commissioner since 2017. He is filling the role vacated by outgoing chair Matt Freeman, executive director of the Idaho State Board of Education, while Barbara Damron, professor and senior advisor to the dean in the College of Nursing and the School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico, becomes vice chair.

“The work of WICHE is better because of the leadership and vast experiences brought to the table by our WICHE Commissioners,” Michelau said. “I am grateful to Immediate Past Chair Freeman for leading the Commission this past year, and I look forward to Commissioner Jefferson’s tenure as the next chair of the WICHE Commission. WICHE is honored to collaborate with Dr. Jefferson, a distinguished scholar and leader in education, whose rich background in family and community engagement, creative scholarship, and commitment to students supports the mission and vision of what WICHE was founded upon 70 years ago.”

Jefferson earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Morehouse College, a master’s degree in teaching, with an emphasis in secondary English education, from Brown University, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and innovation from CU Denver. His areas of expertise include family and community engagement in public education, creative and partnered scholarship in community-based education, and race, class, and gender equity in public schooling.

In addition to developing and instructing undergraduate and graduate courses in education, development, families, and communities, Jefferson directs the research of doctorate and Ed.D. students at CU Denver through partnerships with education and community organizations in and near Denver. He has received numerous awards for his leadership and service in teaching, including the CU Denver Chancellor’s Urban Engaged Scholars and the CU Denver Rosa Parks Diversity Award.

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The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) works collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all residents of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Visit

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