Gov. Doug Burgum today appointed Fargo attorney Joseph Wetch Jr. to a four-year term on the state Board of Higher Education.
Wetch has been vice president and a shareholder at Serkland Law Firm since 2001. His practice is focused on civil trial matters including aviation law, commercial law, contracts and education law, and he has provided legal counsel for one of the state’s largest school districts in Fargo Public Schools, as well as Kindred School District.
“Joseph Wetch’s broad experience, collaborative approach and deep knowledge of education law and policy will help the state Board of Higher Education guide our 11 public colleges and universities through the unstoppable forces of technology, economics, demographics and culture to ensure the best outcomes for students,” Burgum said. “We deeply appreciate his passion for higher education in North Dakota, and we’re grateful for all of the qualified candidates who shared their inspiring commitment to students throughout the nomination and selection process.”
A Bismarck native, Wetch attended Bismarck State College before earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and his law degree from the UND School of Law. He served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1995 in Colorado and Germany, serving as a sergeant and licensed practical nurse.
Wetch served as president of the State Bar Association of North Dakota in 2015-2016 and is also licensed to practice in Minnesota and South Dakota. He also has volunteered as an attorney for the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America and as a mission scanner for the Civil Air Patrol, assisting in air-to-ground searches and documenting the effects of flooding in the Red River Valley.
Wetch’s appointment, effective July 1, 2020, is subject to confirmation by the state Senate during the 2021 legislative session. He succeeds Don Morton, who left the board after serving for eight years, the maximum allowed under state law. Burgum expressed his deepest gratitude for Morton’s extensive service on the board, including his leadership as board chair.
The Board of Higher Education has eight voting members appointed by the governor, including one student member, and two non-voting members who represent the North Dakota University System’s faculty and staff. The board oversees the system’s 11 public colleges and universities.