Online university to hold its 24th commencement ceremony in Atlanta on February 9 SALT LAKE CITY — Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is slated to speak at Western Governors University’s next commencement, which will be held February 9 at Atlanta’s Philips Arena. The nonprofit, online university, which holds commencement twice a year, will recognize more than 3,500 graduates from across the U.S. at the event. Governor Bush served as Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007, and during his tenure, education reform was a top priority. The governor worked with the Florida Legislature to take advantage of new technology to expand access and improve the quality of education. In 2000, the state established online public high school Florida Virtual School as an independent educational entity – a unique distance-learning institution that allows students in rural areas of the state to take Advanced Placement classes for college credit. Governor Bush currently serves as chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national foundation focused on education reform. WGU was founded in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors as a private, nonprofit online university with a mission to improve quality and expand access to higher education, particularly for adult learners. The university offers competency-based bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. The average age of WGU’s students is 37, and most have families and work full time. With more than 37,000 current students and 19,000 graduates, fast-growing WGU is garnering national attention for its innovative, competency-based learning model, which allows students to advance through courses when they demonstrate what they have learned, rather than logging classroom hours. This allows WGU students, who usually have prior education and work experience, to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. In many cases, students can accelerate their progress toward a degree. The average time to earn a bachelor’s degree is 35 months, and with a flat-rate tuition of about $3,000 per six-month term for most programs, regardless of the number of courses completed, students can save both time and money.