Graduates to Share at Feb. 12 Commencement, 2/9/11

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News Brief - 2/9/11

Graduate Speakers to Share Challenges and Triumphs at WGU Commencement February 12

Western Governors University to Award More than 1,900 Degrees at Winter Graduation Ceremony

SALT LAKE CITY — On Saturday, February 12, Western Governors University will award bachelor’s and master’s degrees to graduates from all 50 states, but the program will have some notable Utah representation. Zions Bank President and CEO A. Scott Anderson will deliver the commencement address, and Justin Osmond, a member of the Osmond family who earned his MBA at WGU, will be one of four graduate speakers. Commencement ceremonies for the non-profit, online university based in Salt Lake City will take place at 10 am, MST, at Abravanel Hall, 123 West South Temple.

Justin Osmond, the son of Merrill Osmond, was born with 90 percent hearing loss in both ears. With the support of his family, he learned to speak and even play several musical instruments, and today, he works to help others who are hearing-impaired with the Olive Osmond Perpetual Hearing Fund. Despite a busy schedule filled with international travel, Justin was able to complete his MBA at WGU, studying on airplanes and in hotels in places like Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Justin’s brother, Shane Osmond, has also completed his MBA at WGU and will be attending commencement on Saturday as well.

Dallan Jones, another Utah native, will also address WGU’s commencement on Saturday. Just 14 when he enrolled at WGU, Dallan completed his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at age 19 and is now employed at GE Capital Financial. Jones and Osmond will be joined on the podium by Jozelda Porter of Jackson, Tennessee, a teacher and single mother with a disabled child who completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and Tammy Hosang of Oakland, Michigan, a registered nurse who completed her master’s degree in Nursing Education while working full time and caring for her family.

Saturday’s event, the 20th for WGU, will recognize the 1,922 WGU students who have completed their degrees since July of last year. The university will award 1,095 undergraduate and 827 graduate degrees in Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education, and Healthcare Professions, including Nursing. Graduates for this six-month period reside in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Armed Forces personnel stationed overseas. While the average age of this graduating class is 38, the youngest graduate is 19, and the oldest is 68.

WGU has grown to a national university with nearly 24,000 students since it opened its virtual doors in 1999. With this graduating class, the non-profit university has conferred more than 9,000 bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate, and master’s degrees. Founded by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to make higher education more affordable and accessible to working adults, WGU offers more than 50 fully accredited online degree programs. Tuition at the nation’s only competency-based university, which has not increased in the past two years, is less than $6,000 per year for most degree programs, and more than $3 million in scholarships are awarded each year.

While WGU is all online, the university celebrates commencement in person twice each year. More than 225 graduates from 32 states will travel to Salt Lake City to attend the ceremony; graduates and others not able to attend in person can participate in the ceremony live over the Internet via streaming video beginning at 9:45 a.m. (MST) on February 12. For more information, go to http://www.wgu.edu/wgu/graduation_feb2011.

Utah Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell will introduce Mr. Anderson, who, in addition to his leadership of Zions Bank and extensive community service, is a member of the Western Governors University Board of Trustees. WGU President Robert W. Mendenhall, 2010 recipient of the McGraw Prize in Education, will recognize Mr. Anderson’s service to the university and the community by awarding him an honorary doctoral degree.