Policy Brief: The Road to the State Higher Education Executive Office

Brandon Bishop, a second-year master’s student at the University of Denver studying higher education with a focus in public policy and organizational change, partnered with SHEEO to write a policy brief about the road to the state higher education executive office.

The state higher education executive officer is the most senior person charged with guiding postsecondary education public policy in their state. Some states have more than one SHEEO, as some represent university governing boards, state community college systems, or state coordinating boards. The SHEEO can be appointed by the governor, or the governing or coordinating board, or hired by an agency head. Additionally, in some states, SHEEOs must meet a range of requirements to attain their position, as is explored later in this brief.

SHEEOs are responsible for maintaining accountability in postsecondary education and providing leadership for postsecondary institutions in their state (Tandberg, Fowles, & McLendon, 2017). SHEEOs work with multiple government agencies, postsecondary institutions, and individuals. They also partner with a variety of key stakeholder groups, including state policy leaders, higher education institutions, parents, and students. By researching prior experience and training of SHEEOs, this brief sheds light on the many roads individuals may take to reach this vital policy position.