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Meet Our Honorary Degree Recipients

Honoring Impactful and Significant Contributions to Higher Education

Since 2002, we've honored over 20 individuals with honorary degrees. Honorees are selected based on their significant and impactful contributions to their respective industries, the field of education, or directly to WGU itself. Please join us in celebrating our latest honorary degree recipient, Ted Mitchell. Learn more about Ted and see a list of previous recipients below.

Recent Honorees

Ted Mitchell

March 16, 2024, at Anaheim commencement
Lives in: Washington, DC

On March 16, 2024, we awarded Ted Mitchell an honorary degree at our Anaheim Commencement ceremony. Ted has been at the helm of the American Council on Education (ACE) since September 2017, where he serves as president, overseeing the nation's colleges and universities. Working closely with Congress, the executive branch, and the private sector, he’s advanced policies and practices that benefit postsecondary learners. Ted has dedicated his career to enhancing access to quality education and improving student outcomes, including his tenure as U.S. under secretary of education during the Obama administration, where he spearheaded initiatives such as reinstating Pell Grants for incarcerated adults and creating the College Scorecard. 

Before his role at ACE, Mitchell held various leadership positions in higher education, serving as president of Occidental College, vice chancellor and dean at the UCLA, and professor at Dartmouth College. Additionally, Mitchell has made significant contributions to K–12 education as the CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund and president of the California State Board of Education. Throughout his career, Mitchell has advocated for an educational system that prioritizes excellence, equity, and social justice. He holds bachelor's, master's, and PhD degrees from Stanford University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and currently sits on the boards of several prominent educational organizations.

WGU is thrilled to recognize Ted’s tireless efforts to advance WGU’s mission of creating pathways to opportunity for students. We present Ted Mitchell with an honorary degree and add his name to the list of passionate individuals reinvigorating higher education and renewing its promise to all students.

Previous Honorary Degree Recipients


Tammy Johns | Former WGU Trustee | 04/21/23


Terry Crane | Former WGU Trustee | 08/06/22 

Patrick Partridge | Chief Marketing Officer, Trailblazer | 08/06/22


Robert Mendenhall | WGU President (1999-2016) | 07/17/17


Dell Loy Hansen | Wasatch Group | 07/16/16


Douglas “Chip” Johnstone | Provost, Trailblazer | 07/12/12

Max Farbman | Fund-raising | 07/14/12 

Janet Schnitz | Acting provost, Trailblazer | 07/14/12

Bill Simmons | Dutko; funding; lobbyist | 07/14/12


Jamie Merisotis | Lumina Foundation | 07/23/11 

Scott Anderson | Zions Bank, advisory board | 02/12/11


Sam Smith | WSU, founder, board member | 07/11/09

Scott McNealy | Sun Microsystems | 01/24/09 


Clara M. Lovett | President, NAU | 02/16/08

Thomas C. Pelto | AT&T | 02/16/08


Michael B. Enzi | Senator, Wyoming | 07/14/07

Bess Stevens | HP Foundation | 02/10/07


Roy Romer | Gov, CO; WGU founder | 01/28/06 


Rod Paige | Sec, ED | 08/06/05


Michael Leavitt | Gov, Utah; Sec. HHS; WGU founder | 09/27/03 


Eric Benhamou | 3Com; Palm | 12/05/02

James R. Swartz | Accel Partners; Funding | 10/19/02

Robert F. Bennett | US Senator, Utah | 10/19/02