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.

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