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Marni Baker Stein

Marni Baker Stein

Chief Academic Officer and Provost | Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Dr. Marni Baker Stein serves as Chief Academic Officer and Provost of Western Governors University, developing and implementing programs that improve student access and success in higher education.

Areas of Expertise: 

Competency-based Education, Innovation, Higher Education, E-Learning, Instructional Design, Distance Learning, and Leadership


University of Pennsylvania: Ph.D., Educational Leadership  2008

Penn State University: M.A., Speech Communication and TESOL  1992

Penn State University: B.S., French  1990

Social:   TwitterLinkedIn




Marni Baker Stein is chief academic officer and provost at Western Governors University, where she leads WGU’s four colleges and supporting Student Success and Program Development functions. Baker Stein’s leadership prioritizes education and workforce equity, cutting-edge skills-focused and competency-based program design, personalization of the learning experience and sustainable innovation at scale. She drives the university’s student-centered mission with a 360-degree. data-driven “community of care” approach that strategically supports students through their entire academic journey.

Event Appearances

SXSW EDU, 2019-03-05
Understanding Students as Consumers of Higher Education  Austin, Texas

SXSW EDU, 2017-05-13
How Data and Automation Humanize Student Experience  Austin, Texas

Selected media appearances and articles.

Baker Stein regularly presents at large scale higher education conferences to include ASU/GSV, SXSWEdu, HolonIQ, CAEL, UPCEA Eduventures, Times Higher Education, etc. Recent Podcast appearances include: The EdUp Experience , An Educated Guest, and Getting Smart

As Student Engagement Falls, Colleges Wonder: ‘Are We Part of the Problem?’

EdSurge, 2022-6-08

“What those campuses don’t have is the student-lifecycle infrastructure for that kind of education, to support that kind of flexibility,” says Marni Baker Stein, provost and chief academic officer at Western Governors University, an online institution that offers self-paced courses. “It’s one of those things—you don’t know that you even need it until COVID.”

Marni Baker Stein on What’s Next For Higher Education

Getting Smart, 2020-12-02

In this podcast, Marni elaborates on the progress WGU has made with regards to focusing on what learners need to know, how they know what learners know, and how they can communicate and capture that.

The Key to Regaining America’s Trust in Higher Ed? Skills

Education Technology Insights, 2020-11

COVID-19 has put an exclamation point of what we already knew: college and universities must do better. Pre-COVID, reports abound of America's high levels of student loan debt and recent grads struggling to find jobs... 

History will look back on 2020 as a turning point for US universities

Quartz, 2020-08-23

Like thousands of US colleges and universities this spring, Simmons University in Boston had to adjust to Covid-19 on the fly, closing lecture halls and moving classes online. 

Embracing a Skills-based Future

Diplomatic Courier, 2020-08-07

We don’t yet know what the long-term effects of the virus will be... Recent findings from the Strada Education Network suggest that one in four Americans plan to enroll in education or training in the next six months. 


Ep. 15: Online Learning's Outlook for the Fall

Inside Higher Ed, 2020-07-21

Many questions loom about remote learning in coming months. Will online offerings from colleges be more sophisticated? What steps need to be taken to ensure academic quality in online learning? And will short-term credentials be more popular?

How WGU aligns students' educations to employers' needs

edScoop, 2020-06-23

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the workforce and the types of skills that workers need, Western Governors University is focused on improving its skills-based education program to help students and industry professionals document their skill sets for employers.

How WGU Is Filling the Skills Gap

Campus Technology, 2020-04-20

Western Governors University is known for innovation in pursuit of student success. Its latest initiative takes that out of school and deep into the hiring process. 

It consists of two components: a tightly structured process for skills mapping (connecting course competencies directly to workforce needs) and a group of dedicated "skills architects" (those doing the mapping).

What's Next: Could coronavirus change the credit hour as we know it?

Education Dive, 2020-04-08

When faculty are teaching courses designed for the classroom remotely, how can they be sure students are learning as intended? As Baker Stein notes, replicating that course online in short order is a challenge, she noted, because the tools and capabilities for learning in the digital domain don't match up so neatly with what's available in the classroom. 

WGU’s new initiative to help connect students with job skills

Pahrump Valley Times, 2020-03-02

Western Governors University has partnered with a labor market analytics firm to help map the skills and competencies WGU students acquire that employers are looking for in the job market.


Identifying Local Skills Gaps

Inside Higher Ed, 2020-02-28

New report from Emsi explains how regions can use data to identify skills gaps, which vary wildly across cities and even within industries, and what that means for higher ed.


The quest to scale undergraduate education online continues, but can it work?

Education Dive, 2020-01-10

EdX and other learning companies are enlisting traditional universities to help create more inroads to college, but earlier attempts at doing so point to potential hurdles.​

Uncharted Territory: A Guide to Reimagining Higher Education

Stanford University, 2019-10

An exploration of how institutions, including WGU, are charting new paths and designing for the student experience in higher ed.