HELENA — The commissioner of higher education is announcing plans to retire next year.
Sheila Stearns told the board of regents meeting in Kalispell Thursday that she will be stepping down at the end of the next academic year. She has served as commissioner for nine years.
Stearns says she has enjoyed working with all those associated with the college system, from students and educators to legislators and business leaders.
The system under her leadership has spent time focusing on affordability, such as by freezing tuition for a period of time, making colleges more accessible and other issues.
Stearns, a Glendive native, has previously held posts in state as chancellor of the University of Montana-Western and vice president at the University of Montana.