WGU to Celebrate More than 4,100 Graduates at Winter Commencement

Feb 08, 2013, 16:10 ET from Western Governors University

Former Governor Jeb Bush to address graduates and faculty at online university's 24th commencement ceremony February 9 at 9:45 a.m. EST at Atlanta's Philips Arena

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu, the nonprofit online university established by 19 U.S. governors, will host its 24th semi-annual commencement on Saturday, February 9, at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. The university, which has more than 39,000 students nationwide, will recognize 4,134 graduates during the ceremony.

Although WGU students complete their studies online, the university holds "in-person" commencement ceremonies for its students twice a year. More than 375 graduates, along with more than 2,600 family members and friends, will attend the event, traveling to Atlanta from 36 states, including Hawaii. In addition, one graduate on military assignment will journey from Japan to walk in the ceremony. Nearly 90 of the graduates attending are Georgia residents. For those who cannot attend in person, the ceremony will be streamed live on the WGU website.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will deliver the commencement address at Saturday's event. During his term as governor, Bush worked with the Florida Legislature to take advantage of new technology to expand access and improve the quality of education. In 2000, the state established online public high school the Florida Virtual School as an independent educational entity—a unique distance-learning institution that allows students in rural areas of the state to take Advanced Placement classes for college credit. Governor Bush currently serves as chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national foundation focused on education reform.

At Saturday's event, WGU will confer 2,596 bachelor's degrees and 1,538 graduate degrees in four disciplines: Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education, and Health Professions, including Nursing. Founded in 1997, WGU is designed to meet the needs of busy working adults. The average age for these graduates is 39; however, the ages range from 17 to 74. WGU's competency-based model makes it possible for students to benefit from prior education and experience by allowing them to 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, students with work and family responsibilities can schedule their studies to fit their lives. As a result, the average time to complete a bachelor's degree is 35 months.

For more information about WGU's 24th semi-annual commencement or to watch the event live, go to http://www.wgu.edu/wgu/commencement_winter2013.

About Western Governors University

Featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, CNN's "Schools of Thought," and in The New York Times, WGU is the only university in the U.S. offering accredited, competency-based bachelor's and master's degree programs. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. WGU's Teachers College is the first and only exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation for its teacher licensure programs from NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  The WGU bachelor's and master's nursing degree programs have been accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and its B.S. in Health Informatics is accredited by CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education).

On June 11, 2010, WGU Indiana was created by Governor Mitch Daniels as Indiana's eighth state university. WGU Washington was established by the Washington State Legislature on April 22, 2011.  On August 3, 2011, the state of Texas created WGU Texas. WGU Indiana, WGU Washington, and WGU Texas are state-endorsed and offer degree programs that are accredited through Western Governors University.

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as 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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