Office of the President
Scott Pulsipher serves as president of nonprofit Western Governors University (WGU), the nation’s first and largest competency-based university, leading all academic, operational, and organizational functions.
Pulsipher came to WGU in 2016 and blends a personal drive for making a difference in the lives of individuals and families through education and a passion for technology-powered innovation. At WGU, he is driving continuous innovation to improve student outcomes by focusing on rapidly advancing curriculum quality, new faculty models, data-driven learning, and an innovative cost model. In 2020, EdTech Digest named him one of the Top 100 Influencers in EdTech.
Pulsipher chairs the President’s Forum, a collaborative network of nearly 20 college and university presidents committed to the reinvention of higher education. Pulsipher serves as the Co-Chair of Education Subcommittee for the Committee for Economic Development, and he is on the Executive Committee for the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity.
Before coming to WGU, Pulsipher had more than 20 years of leadership experience in technology-based, customer-focused businesses, including Amazon, Sterling Commerce (now part of IBM), and two successful startups that traverse retail, supply chain, banking, payments, and manufacturing sectors. Pulsipher holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Harvard University.
"At WGU, we believe in the sacredness and potential of every person. We exist to unlock that potential by creating pathways to opportunity that are personalized to the needs and circumstances of every individual."
There are many areas in higher education that President Pulsipher is particularly passionate about. A few of those areas include:
Higher education should move individuals forward in their lives. Pulsipher is passionate about making education affordable and accessible to all, while also about ensuring that education creates value for students by aligning to workforce needs.
The world of learning and work is now online—internet access is a necessity, not a luxury. Pulsipher is committed to a future in which every learner has the digital skills, device access, and connectivity needed to thrive in a technology-enabled future.
Traditionally, higher education has been campus-based and centered on the needs and priorities of the institution. Pulsipher believes that the student should be at the center of everything we do and that the future of higher education is personalized to the needs of each individual student.
History and tradition have value, but they shouldn’t constrain our approach to solving the real problems that individuals face in accessing and thriving in higher ed. Pulsipher takes a tech-first, solution-oriented, innovation-driven approach in order to build what students need.
Higher education should be an engine of economic mobility, but too often it has replicated structural inequalities instead of leveling them. Pulsipher s committed to closing equity gaps in access and attainment at WGU and across our system of higher education.
- Our Labor Market Infrastructure Is Ancient: 3 Key Investments To Unlock Opportunity May 2021
- The Digital Divide is Disenfranchising Jobseekers and Students, April 2021
- How to Make Online Ed Work for Students, March 2021
- Scott Pulsipher Reveals How Being Deliberate in Nurturing Connections Can Pave Pathways Never Previously Imagined, March 2021
- Higher education Must Innovate and Put Non-Traditional Learners First, January 2021
- Does Biden’s Vision On Loan Forgiveness Go Far Enough? January 27, 2021
- Happy? New Year: Five Resolutions For Higher Ed, January 13, 2021
- Scott Pulsipher on Reimagining Talent Finance, December 2020
- Finding A New Job Is Hard, But New Tech Can Change That, September 23, 2020
- Covid Is Hurting Higher Ed’s Bottom Line. Who Should Foot The Bill? September 14, 2020
Resilience is not an individual endeavor. Resilience is a team sport.
The coronavirus pandemic has physically isolated many of us, but it has also brought into stark relief just how interconnected we are as a worldwide community. We suffer together; we grieve together; we will recover together. That recovery hinges on our individual and collective resilience: our ability to grow in the face of challenge and to adapt in the face of change. At WGU, we believe that education is a critical piece of building resilience, not just for our students, but for their families and for the nation as a whole. Education is not simply about increasing knowledge. It is also about empowering individuals to think critically, to look at problems in new ways, and to believe in their own ability to learn and change.
We believe in resilience. We believe in the power of higher education to transform individuals’ and families’ lives and livelihoods, to revitalize businesses whether local or multinational, and to drive a new economy that is stronger than ever before. Most importantly, we believe that recovery must be equitable—just as talent is universal, we should strive to ensure that the opportunities in a renewed, post-pandemic world are as well.
I continue to be proud of the innovative approach to resilience exemplified by WGU’s students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Our retention rates and student satisfaction were higher at the end of 2020 than they were in the beginning—the ultimate testimony to the support our students received. We continued to set records for monthly graduations during the darkest months of the pandemic.
As much of higher education spent the past year reacting to changing realities, WGU’s student-centric, technology-driven, personalized approach to education enabled us to be responsive to the needs of each individual, while continuing to drive a future-focused agenda to reimagine higher education. In many ways, this year was spent as any other: in the service of our mission, to change lives for the better by creating pathways to opportunity.
2021 promises to continue presenting the kinds of challenges and opportunities that, I firmly believe, will drive a stronger, more resilient future for higher education, for our economy, for our communities, and for the individuals and families at the center of it all. I am honored to be part of the work of WGU in defining that bright future, and I thank you for your support, your work, and all that you contribute to this collective effort.