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Truly a university without boundaries, Western Governors University is a nonprofit online university founded and supported by 19 U.S. governors. At no other time in the history of higher education have the governors of several states joined together to create a university.
View the WGU Timeline of the first 15 years
Watch a video celebrating the first 15 years
The idea for WGU was born in 1995 at a bipartisan meeting of the Western Governors
Association (hence our "western" name). Going into the meeting, the chair
of the association—Utah governor Mike Leavitt—had the foresight to realize that
distance learning technologies had the power to tackle one of the western states’
most pressing problems: rapid population growth confronted by limited public funds
for educational services.
The governors decided then and there to create their own university. They agreed
that this new university would make maximum use of distance learning technologies,
would be collaborative among the western member states, and would use competencies
rather than seat time as the measure of its outcomes.
To do this, the governors enlisted the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education
(WICHE) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)
to help design the newly envisioned university. Five themes remained central to
WGU was incorporated as a private, nonprofit university in 1997, and began accepting students in 1999.
WGU is very mission driven. Created to expand access to higher education through
online, competency-based degree programs, WGU’s mission has remained one of helping
hardworking adults meet their educational goals and improve their career opportunities.
To fulfill the mission, the founding governors also insisted that WGU be affordable,
flexible, and student-focused. Hence, WGU strives to serve as many students as possible—including
minorities, first-generation college students, those with modest incomes, and others
whose lives or geographic locations do not allow them to attend traditional, campus-based
WGU has flourished into a national university, serving more than 67,000 students from
all 50 states, yet remains non-bureaucratic and innovative. It continues to receive
praise for its academic model and to enhance its reputation with employers for the
emphasis on graduating highly competent professionals.
The Myths about Online Learning
Even though online learning is growing dramatically and becoming more and more accepted
among employers and academia, there are still opinions—really, myths—about online
education that linger in some people’s minds.
Myths about online learning
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