Joseph Wetch Jr. earned undergraduate and law degrees from UND.
Wetch’s appointment, effective July 1, is subject to confirmation by the North Dakota Senate during the upcoming legislative session. Wetch succeeds Don Morton, who wrapped up his time on the board after serving eight years, the maximum allowed under state law. Morton also served as chair of the board for two years. Wetch will serve a four-year term.
“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 in a statement.
Wetch is a Bismarck native who attended Bismarck State College before obtaining his bachelor’s degree in political science from UND. He also obtained his law degree at UND’s 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 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. He has provided legal counsel for one of the state’s largest school districts in Fargo Public Schools, as well as the Kindred School District.
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.
Wetch is the second person to join the board in recent months. Danita Bye, from Stanley, was appointed to the state board in May. Bye will serve the remainder of former board member Dan Traynor’s term, which ends June 30, 2022. Traynor resigned from the board in January after the U.S. Senate confirmed him for a North Dakota federal district judgeship.