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Western Governors University President Robert W. Mendenhall has been awarded the 2010 Harold W. McGraw,
Jr. Prize in Education. The Prize, which is presented annually to three innovators in pre-kindergarten and elementary education, secondary education, and post-secondary education, recognizes outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to creating a smarter, better world.
This year’s theme was “Scaling Up,” and Dr. Mendenhall was selected for his work at WGU over the past 11 years, leading the
university while it grew from one student to more than 20,000.
The Prize was established in 1988 to honor the late Mr. McGraw’s lifelong commitment to education and to mark the corporation’s 100th anniversary. McGraw-Hill is a global information and education company. Christopher Cerf, creator of the acclaimed children’s television show, Between the Lions, and contributor to Sesame Street, received the award in the pre-kindergarten category, and Larry Rosenstock, CEO and founding principal of High Tech High (HTH), was selected for the secondary education category. Harold McGraw III, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill
Companies, recognized honorees at a special event held September 28 at the New York Public Library.
“There are many remarkable and innovative educators in America, but there are only a few who have transformed learning and created reforms that will stand the test of time,” McGraw said. “Through the power of children’s television, creative school design, and accessible, online learning, this year’s winners have done just that and benefited the lives of countless students.”
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Governor Mitch Daniels congratulated graduates of WGU Indiana, Indiana’s eighth state university, at the university’s
first commencement ceremony on October 27, 2010. The event, which was held in Indiana’s capitol rotunda, was attended
by WGU Indiana students, graduates, and staff as well as the Western Governors University Board of Trustees and
WGU Indiana Advisory Board.
“Today is a one-of-a-kind occasion to be followed by many more like it,” Governor Daniels said. “Years from now, when
Indiana is known everywhere as a place with the highest standards, the highest attainment, and the broadest possible
exposure and success in higher education among its population, those of us lucky enough to be present today will know
that a big part of that was the progress that started here, and that WGU was a very big part of it.”
Dawn Hanson, who completed a B.S. in Nursing, addressed the gathering. Hanson, a working mother, related the challenges
she faced in finding a program that would allow her to earn her bachelor’s degree while juggling work and family
responsibilities. “My education was most certainly a family event,” Hanson said. “For several years, I had been searching
for a program that would allow me to continue work as a nurse and take care of my family while I completed my degree.
I had a checklist for my needs and wants for my dream program, and WGU Indiana was the perfect fit for my life.”
WGU President Bob Mendenhall recognized the significance of the event, recalling the first commencement of Western Governors University, just ten years earlier. “Exactly ten years ago, we held the first graduation for WGU in the backyard of the governor’s mansion, and we had one graduate,” Mendenhall said. “This year, we will graduate 3,500 students. So we start today with 16 graduates in Indiana, and you can imagine with me the future ten years from now. We look forward to the opportunity to educate many more Hoosiers over the years.”
Western Governors University has received the 2010 Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education from the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C). An association of institutions and organizations engaged in online higher education, Sloan-C presents this award annually to an institution that has demonstrated its commitment to assessing and improving the quality of its online education programs.
The Sloan-C awards were created in 2002 to recognize outstanding practices in each of five pillar areas: access, learning effectiveness, cost effectiveness, student satisfaction, and faculty satisfaction. WGU was selected for its innovative approach to using quantitative metrics to assess quality as well as demonstrating continuous improvement based on these metrics.
“Our watchwords of quality, scale, and breadth are epitomized by the institutions we honor this year,” said Bruce Chaloux, President of Sloan-C. “The 2010 recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and real success in advancing online education,” added Awards Committee Chair Burks Oakley II.
Western Governors University and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) have joined together to provide NACHC members with access to affordable opportunities for advancing their education. The “Growing From Within” partnership will provide tuition and scholarship assistance for health center members who wish to further their professional development by enrolling in a WGU degree program.
Community-based health centers provide primary healthcare services to 20 million people across the United States. Like hospitals and other healthcare providers, the demand for well-trained and qualified nurses and workers to meet the needs of these public health centers is on the rise. With this partnership, the NACHC and WGU hope to make healthcare degrees more accessible to healthcare center employees with work and family obligations.
NACHC health center members are eligible for a 5 percent tuition discount, application fee waiver, and may apply for the NACHC-WGU Community Health Scholarship. WGU will award 15 scholarships worth up to $2,000 per scholarship. WGU’s College of Health Professions offers seven eligible degree programs, including CCNE-accredited bachelor’s and master’s programs in nursing as well as a bachelor’s program in health informatics and an MBA in healthcare management.
The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional teacher organization, has chosen WGU to offer affordable online master’s degree programs to its members. The programs are offered through an agreement with the NEA Academy, which provides access to lifelong learning opportunities and professional development to NEA’s 3.2 million members who want to further their teaching careers by continuing their education. The agreement allows NEA members who enroll at WGU to receive a 5 percent tuition discount and waiver of their application fee, and the opportunity to compete for a special NEA
WGU is one of three universities chosen by the NEA for this strategic alliance. The NEA conducted an extensive review of more than 110 online master’s degree programs in education, which resulted in the selection of WGU, UMass Online, and Walden University. The three partner schools were selected based on the quality, credibility, and affordability of their online degree programs for teachers. WGU’s Teachers College, which has nearly 11,000 students, offers 11 online master’s degree programs for teachers and is the only exclusively online university to earn accreditation from NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of
“Our mission is to create programs that make the personal and professional lives of members better. This includes providing convenient access to the lifelong learning opportunities we know educators seek. These partnerships and this program reflect the NEA’s commitment to helping educators master their craft,” said Lily Eskelsen, vice president of the National Education Association.
In 2008, David Cooper read the Time Magazine article about Western Governors University on an airplane coming home from a business trip. He was impressed by the article and after some research about WGU decided to give the university a shot.
A self-made corporate professional, David has worked for 17 years in the thermo-plastics industry and has been able to achieve management positions without a formal degree. While many of his colleagues had multiple degrees from traditional universities, he felt going back to school would give him several opportunities. It would challenge him as well as level the playing field between him and his colleagues. “I always felt like I had unique talents to be able to do more,” said David about his career. He always had to work harder to make up for the lack of education, but understood the importance of getting a formal education and knew WGU
would be a good fit.
“The most rewarding thing was that WGU is flexible,” said David. He could be engaged with family and work simultaneously with his studies. The competency-based program was what he needed to fit his school work into his busy schedule. David feels the curriculum is comparable to that of a brick and mortar school and also credits his mentor as an essential part of his WGU experience. “WGU pushes you to focus, to narrow in on what it is that you want to accomplish,” David adds. “They give you all the resources and tools.”
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