News Brief - 7/12/17 SALT LAKE CITY The founders of Western Governors University (WGU)—including former Utah Governor and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, former Colorado Governor Roy Romer, and former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer—are joining the nonprofit, online university as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this week in Salt Lake City. In addition to these honored guests, more than 3,000 WGU faculty, staff, students, and graduates will mark this milestone at a special commemorative event on July 14 at 3:00 p.m., MDT, at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. The event will be streamed live at www.wgu.edu/20. In just 20 years, WGU has grown from an idea, conceived by 19 U.S. governors, to one of the largest universities in the United States. Today, WGU has more than 82,000 students and 87,000 graduates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and military bases overseas. WGU is fully online, and all of the university's 60+ bachelor's and master's degree programs are competency-based. The university's founding governors were looking for a way to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education for busy adults using technology and a different model—one that measures learning rather than time in class. Today, more than 600 K–12 and post-secondary institutions are using or developing competency-based programs. For many, WGU has been the model. "We had to reinvent an alternative process, not to replace traditional higher education, but to supplement, to serve populations that were not properly served by the existing system," said Governor Leavitt. "We believed that this new, more innovative approach to higher education needed to include both new technology and a fundamental shift in what we measure." The university was initially funded by government, foundations, and private industry, and today is self-sustaining on tuition of about $6,000 per year. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and has been nationally recognized for innovation and excellence.