50,000 Graduates in 15 Years: Class of Summer 2015 Marks Major Milestone for WGU

Online, competency-based university's semi-annual commencement celebrates 8,500 graduates

Aug 14, 2015, 11:31 ET from Western Governors University

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Saturday, August 15, Western Governors University (WGU) will hold its 29th semi-annual commencement in Salt Lake City. In addition to recognizing students who have graduated in the past six months, the nation's first competency-based university will mark another major milestone—50,000 graduates in just 15 years.

WGU was founded in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality higher education, and in 2000, the university awarded its first degree. The nonprofit university focuses on providing flexible, affordable degree programs that meet the needs of busy working adults, particularly those who have started, but not completed, a bachelor's or master's degree. Of WGU's 50,000 graduates, nearly 20,000 are first-generation college students.

Saturday's commencement ceremony will take place on August 15 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City at 9:45 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Although they earned their degrees online and live all over the United States, 830 of the graduates representing 42 states will attend the ceremony in person, supported by nearly 6,500 family members, friends, faculty, and staff. The commencement ceremony will be streamed live on WGU's website for those who are unable to attend in person.

Dr. Charles W. Sorenson, President and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, will deliver the commencement address. Four graduate speakers will share their WGU stories at the ceremony: Iraida Guadalupe, B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies (K–8) from Brooklyn, New York; Jennifer L. Evans, M.S. Nursing—Leadership and Management from Ogden, Utah; Andrea Petty, B.S. Marketing Management from Las Vegas, Nevada; and Chris Cox, B.S. Information Technology from Atwater, California.

Cox, who has cerebral palsy and will deliver his speech with the help of his faculty mentor, said, "Without the support and determination of my immediate family and the WGU team, I wouldn't be in this position. I want people to know me and what I'm capable of. But I'm just one example of many people that WGU helps—getting my life achievement when I thought it was impossible for me to reach this goal."

During Saturday's ceremonies, WGU will confer 5,292 undergraduate and 3,220 graduate degrees in four disciplines: business, K–12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. Designed to meet the needs of busy working adults, WGU's competency-based model makes it possible for students to set their own study schedules and move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. While WGU's online degree programs are rigorous and challenging, adult learners are still able to earn their degrees without sacrificing work, family, and financial obligations. As a result, many students are able to accelerate their studies, finishing faster and saving money—the average time to complete a bachelor's degree is less than three years.

For more information about WGU's 29th semi-annual commencement or to watch the event live, go to www.wgu.edu/wgu/commencement_summer2015.

About WGU 
Now with 60,000 students nationwide, WGU was established in 1997 by a bipartisan group of U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education. The nation's first competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House as what works in post-secondary education. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, and was featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. WGU has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations, including AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank. More information is available at www.wgu.edu or by calling 866.225.5948.

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Contact for enrollment information:  
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www.wgu.edu                 

Contact for media inquiries:
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SOURCE Western Governors University



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