Friday, March 31, 2006


I started a new job this week. I am working in strategic relations, marketing, and recruiting for Western Governors University. I am very excited about this opportunity. People to thank for leading me to this position include David Marler, Paula Moreira Orologos, and Phil Montgomery.

Western Governors University is a non-profit online university offering convenient and flexible education. We offer bachelor's and master's degrees in Business, Information Technology, and Education. This fall we open our College of Health.

WGU is the Yale of the adult online education world. We are fully accredited (by four accreditation bodies--more at the end RE accreditation). Compared to our top competitors (U of Phx is the biggest) we cost one half or less depending on what background the student has.

We were founded by 19 Western governors in 1997 to address the needs of working professionals or other adults wanting to advance their education but unable or unlikely to return to a traditional education institution. WGU also was created as an answer to the for-profit schools that began to flourish in the late 1990s, led by the University of Phoenix.

In addition to the governors, from our earliest days (through today) we've had strong support from top technology companies including Novell, Microsoft, Oracle, Dell, HP, Cisco, and Google. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a foundation at the cutting edge of education, is also a supporter.

Our programs are rigorous and are not for everyone. Students must self-directed, though we provide many resources that help support them as they progress through the program.

We offer competency-based education, a model that is very different from traditional education. Students earn competency units as they pass various assessments. They do not earn credit hours, though a competency unit is similar to a credit hour. One difference is they never have to sit in a classroom or log online for a specified amount of time. It's about learning and performance, not time logged.

Another unique part of our program is the guidance we provide our students from dedicated faculty mentors. A student has one mentor assisting them every step of the way. The mentors have master's or Phd's in their fields.

As I learn more about the school, and the people I meet from WGU, the more impressed I am with their programs.

***The main accreditation body for WGU is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). This is the regional body that accredits schools in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. Accredited colleges and universities are all governed by regional bodies like this one. Other institutions accredited by NWCCU include: University of . . . Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Utah. Also: Idaho State, Utah State, Oregon State, Brigham Young University, Gonzaga University. Because of our unique history and association with the states of so many governors we are also accredited by three other accrediting bodies, something that is unprecedented in higher education.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Trudi in February of 1968

Au Revoir Trudi

Early this morning in Strongsville, Ohio, my grandmother Trudi died at the age of 94.

She was born Gertrude Elizabeth Nash on October 12, 1911 in Philadelphia.

Trudi was the matriarch of her family, holding them together for decades through good times and bad. She was an elementary school teacher for over thirty years--a career she began during the Depression. For her having a job was always a privilege and an honor, and she was very good at what she did. She is a woman whose impact on hundreds and hundreds of peoples of lives was profound.

Her parents died in the early 1940s, her husband in 1959, and her eldest son (my father) in 1970.

She lived long enough to see her ten grandchildren grow into adulthood. Her last few years were rough, but being a fighter to her core, she held on long after her body began to succumb to the ravages of age.

Her surviving children--Carol, Mae, and Jim--tended to her faithfully in her final years. Their dedication to her was born out of her lifetime of dedication to them.

I began missing her a few years ago as her decline from this world began in earnest.

Au revoir Trudi.

Thanks for everything.

Ben's Video Montage

Follow this link and select " . . . home video" at top. Be sure to click play after it's had a chance to download.

From Ben: "Unless you hadn’t written in 2 months, it wasn’t like Trudi to dwell on the past. That was her way of getting through it. I was fishing through some old letters, photos and movies last night and some memories started to come back. They were good memories of playing scrabble, her sharp wit, the jumble and Poinsettia Drive on the Cape. Rather than the tough last few years, I thought it would be good to forward these on to remember the better times. So here they are: a Berea High School football star, a future triathlete getting his sea legs, a kid who ran across the desert and a grandmother who loved them all even though she refused the title. That desert runner is burying myself in the sand in the yellow sweater she made him."

From Andy Ferguson:

I never realized until I got a lot older all of the depression era influences that Trudi passed on to us.

I first noticed it with food, I never understood the judicious application of butter to a ham sandwich. I think that was an old habit from the depression when they would try to get cheap calories into it( I think I saw it in Cinderella Man). Either way it helped me. I am sure it helped boost my immune system as a youngster as I use to take that slice of the bread from my sandwich at school and scrape it against the underside of the lunch table to get the butter off before re applying the bread to the sandwich. It's a miracle I wasn't the first case of tuberculosis-pneumonia-flu ever reported. Then I use to notice it at Cape Cod and chowder, Trudi would buy one quart and then use butter, flower, and milk to cut the chowder to feed the masses.

I also remember from Run street all of the knick knacks, you never threw anything away because you might need it some day, that house was a treasure trove, especially Uncle Jim's Playboy collection in the attic. I found that when I was 12, which would explain a great deal.

I used to love watching the Master's golf tournament on Sunday's with her. Trudi would be sipping the Gin and Tonic Jim made for her to ease the nerves of having a house with 10 grandchildren coming and going.

Fall was a great time of year at Run Street also, there was the ditch out front where we would rake about three football fields of leaves into it and then run and jump into them until we were filthy. I remember that white swing in the back which use to pinch your hand the second you stopped paying attention.

The memories I could write down would clog my email system, but here's to Trudi, thanks for everything.

Andrew D. Ferguson