On-line training: WGU celebrates 25 years of innovation in larger training

Earlier than turning into the 14th governor of Utah, Mike Levitt served on the Utah State Board of Regents, supervisor of the state’s public schools and universities on the time.

He was effectively versed in how brick-and-mortar faculty campuses operated and better training institutions awarding levels primarily based on seat instances in courses and demonstrated mastery of the fabric.

So it was hardly a shock, when Levitt, at first of his decade-long tenure as governor, advised the regents, “We won’t proceed to construct all these buildings. Effectively, all of them do effectively.” are usually not used from.”

The regents all patted him on the pinnacle.

“It was clear that this was not going to occur. It’s not simply the system. Larger training is considerably constrained due to the flexibility to hyperlink campus and infrastructure modules,” he stated.

A little bit later, he found an viewers who shared his issues concerning the sustainability of upper training, a fellow member of the Affiliation of Western Governors.

On the time, the Web was taking off and the tech world and customers simply scratched the floor of its many utilities.

“It turned clear to me and to others that the idea of distance studying was going to vary fairly dramatically, and we have been going to get to a degree the place info and information may at all times be gained from coming to you, in contrast to you. May have been going to campus to purchase it,” Levitt stated.

As an alternative of sitting time, college students can progress of their studying as they present their aptitude.

Levitt credit then-Colorado Gov. Roy Romer for advancing the group’s understanding of competency-based studying. Roemer was a lawyer but additionally an skilled pilot who was a flight teacher.

“They stated, ‘You recognize, we’re not going to let somebody fly an airplane who hasn’t demonstrated the flexibility to do it. There’s not sufficient time to check,'” Levitt recalled.

The Western Governors Affiliation started to rally across the idea of a college that was solely on-line and arranged for the comfort of the coed, realizing that their “startup” was prone to work in conventional larger training circles. is not going to be good

Western Governors University, headquartered in Milkcreek, Utah.

Western Governors College, headquartered in Milkcreek, turns 25 on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Information

bucking custom

The guide “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by the late Harvard Enterprise Faculty professor Clayton Christensen was instructive.

In line with Christensen, “Good concepts are sometimes crushed inside mature establishments as a result of they do not need to be disrupted. The idea was that when you have been going to disrupt or disrupt long-standing traditions, you needed to put it all the way down to that custom.” must be achieved outdoors,” Levitt defined.

So members of the Western Governors Affiliation made “a deliberate resolution” to call Western Governors College outdoors the upper training neighborhood and set up it as a non-profit group “in order that we are able to operate as a extra nimble creature.” Can,” Levitt stated.

Nevertheless it was simpler stated than achieved.

“We would have liked capital so I went to state legislatures all through the western United States to get it achieved,” he stated. Sixteen states agreed to applicable $100,000 every.

Levitt met with know-how leaders in Silicon Valley, a few of whom instantly embraced the idea and supplied monetary assist.

He had a gathering with Scott McNeely, the then President and CEO of Solar Microsystems. McNally shared that when he was a scholar at Stanford College, he could not transfer quick sufficient in keeping with the construction of the curriculum.

“We talked for about an hour. On the finish of the day he stood up, went to his desk and took out his checkbook and wrote a verify for $500,000.

McNally not solely put his monetary sources behind the nascent college, he helped join Levitt to different tech leaders.

Regardless of the rising curiosity and assist from the WGU, “I wasn’t positive how we have been going to proceed this,” Levitt stated.

He requested his former chief of workers, Charlie Johnson, to evaluate the group. Johnson launched Levitt to Bob Mendenhall, who’s the founding father of Wickett Techniques, Inc. Ltd., a publicly traded firm that’s acknowledged as a pacesetter in offering computer-based curriculum, educational administration and testing to varsities.

Mendenhall had simply bought his enterprise and was working in direction of his doctoral diploma.

“He (WGU) noticed it and instantly understood what it may very well be. He had the abilities to nurture it by that very troublesome startup part. I managed politics and cash, and Bob began shaping it into an training enterprise. He was there for 20 years,” he stated.

exponential development

Regularly, WGU has grown from its first graduate, Gennie Kirch, who earned her grasp’s diploma in studying and know-how on December 1, 2000, to greater than 285,000 graduates in all 50 states. The principals of WGU, decked out in tutorial regalia, held a convocation only for Kirch.

Upon his commencement, Kirch wrote a thank-you observe to Mendenhall, stating, “There have been instances when it was laborious to stroll, I knew there have been different folks pulling in for me. It is a credit score to the WGU format. The college It is easy sufficient to fade into woodworking environments. With WGU you are the focus, and it is laborious not to concentrate to the supreme care.”


Registered nurse Katie Birge leaves her residence in Riverton for a shift at Major Youngsters’s Hospital on Thursday, August 4, 2022.

Spencer Heaps, Deseret Information

private contact

Twenty-five years later, nursing scholar Katie Barge stated she additionally experiences a community of recommendation and assist from WGU’s school and workers.

“There’s so much to supply to you proper now,” she stated. “Your mentors are calling each week and your professors checking in with you, so it has been actually cool and I really feel very supported.”

That is one motive why Burge selected WGU, and as a comfort to do her schoolwork as her work and household schedules permit. A registered nurse, Byrge works at Elementary Youngsters’s Hospital’s bodily remedy and rehabilitation clinic.

Birge had at all times meant to return to school to additional his training however life obtained in the way in which. When her mom turned significantly ailing she was enrolled in courses at a state college.

“For the primary time, my mother was actually sick so I needed to keep for some time to maintain her. Then, she died,” she stated.

After her husband was hit by a truck and killed whereas using a motorbike to work, Byrge’s plans to renew his research as soon as once more went awry. The couple had 4 youngsters.

Burge stated registered nursing coaching from Salt Lake Group Faculty enabled her to assist her household after her husband’s demise. It additionally helped that she was already within the workforce and did not need to restart her profession whereas serving to her youngsters address the lack of their father.

A couple of years later, he remarried a person whose spouse had died of most cancers. They’d three youngsters, making a blended household of seven youngsters.

Now that his youngest is 16 years previous, Burge stated he thinks he is in place to return to highschool. He and his cousin’s spouse, Melinda Vrance, who was employed at Elementary Youngsters’s Hospital, determined to take their bachelor’s diploma on the identical time.


A household sits amongst nurses on the residence of registered nurse Katie Burge on Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Riverton.

Spencer Heaps, Deseret Information

Byrge has accomplished a six-month time period at WGU and has simply begun his second time period. He’ll want a complete of three positions to finish his diploma.

“I like this program so a lot better as a result of with seven youngsters and dealing,” she stated.

a everlasting thought

One of many defining traits of WGU is that it gives levels in 4 main areas: enterprise, training, info know-how, and well being professions together with nursing. There’s a excessive demand for expert employees in every of those disciplines.

Burge stated incomes her diploma would qualify her for different positions in well being care, though one among her targets is to spend extra time on humanitarian journeys the place she will be able to apply her new expertise and information to assist others. .

WGU President Scott Pulcifer stated Levitt and Romer displayed braveness “to assume otherwise about larger training design”. He took it a step additional and persuaded different governors to say, “Hey, that is an incredible thought and you need to put some seed cash into this factor.”

Maybe extra vital, it was not a one-off.

“If you consider a few of the concepts that the governors put ahead, they could be in existence for 2 or three years or perhaps so long as their administration exists, however then they’re sort of out. and it is not like that,” he stated. Pulcifer.


WGU President Scott Pulcifer pictures at Western Governors College in Millcreek on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Information

Levitt stated then-Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, who was the WGU’s beginning and working champion, additionally deserves credit score. Geringer has had the longest relationship with the college, serving on its board of administrators till just lately.

levitt college of well being

Throughout a gala held on the La Calle restaurant on Thursday night, WGU leaders acknowledged Levitt’s contributions to the college and the nation, asserting that its Faculty of Well being Professions could be renamed Michael O. Levitt Faculty of Well being. The announcement coincides with the twenty fifth anniversary of the college.

Levitt served as Secretary of Well being and Human Companies throughout the President George W. Bush administration, the place he oversaw a $750 billion funds and 67,000 workers. He led the implementation of the Medicare Half D Prescription Drug Program.

After his authorities service, Levitt based and headed the well being care consulting agency Levitt Companions. In August 2021, Levitt was convened by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the eighth president of the Tabernacle Choir in Temple Sq..

After leaving authorities, Levitt continued to advocate for WGU and increase college students’ entry to high-quality training, Pulcifer stated.

On the identical time, Levitt raised vital points comparable to inequality in well being care outcomes associated to earnings, residing in rural communities, and inequality amongst folks of shade.

“There’s a 10-year hole in life expectancy between a girl within the prime 1% of earnings and girls within the backside 10%. For males this disparity turns into even higher and isn’t acceptable,” Pulcifer stated.


Malena Johnson exits the cafeteria of Western Governors College on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 in Millcreek. The college celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary on Wednesday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Information

Levitt’s capability “to advance interested by value-based well being care, integrative care, inhabitants well being, behavioral well being, all of which turned a core tenant for WGU’s Faculty of Well being,” he stated.

The college’s naming for Levitt acknowledges his “advocacy for advancing a person’s worth to training and well being care,” Pulcifer stated.

The college additionally introduced that it’s launching long-term plans to assist bridge the nationwide workforce hole in well being care.

nationwide chief

A brand new evaluation from the Utah Basis discovered that WGU leads the nation in nursing graduates.

In line with the findings, the college has awarded 84,390 nursing graduates from all 50 states since 2009 – of whom 60,368 earned a bachelor’s diploma in nursing and 24,022 a grasp’s diploma in nursing.

The report states, “In 2021, WGU produced 17% of the nation’s registered nurses incomes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, suggesting that its already outsized position in educating the nationwide nursing personnel will increase quickly.”

Peter Reichardt, president of the Utah Basis, described the affect of WGU as “an eyesore.”

Because the nation faces a extreme scarcity of staffing hospitals, “Western governors are deploying an revolutionary method to open up alternatives and transfer ahead,” Reichardt stated.

In line with the evaluation, WGU nursing graduates make up 2% of all registered nurses with an energetic license within the nation. The variety of well being care professionals the college expects to graduate as new diploma and credentialing applications are supplied by the Levitt Faculty of Well being.

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