WGU Washington, State's Newest University, to Celebrate Launch and Formalize Community and Technical College Partnership

May 26, 2011, 11:16 ET from WGU Washington

Community College Presidents, State Officials, Community Leaders, and Students Will Assemble at Seattle Central Community College to Celebrate Establishment of New Online University Today

SEATTLE, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- WGU Washington, washington.wgu.edu, the only state-endorsed, all-online nonprofit university in Washington, will mark its official launch today at a special event hosted by Seattle Central Community College. During the event, Washington's newest university and the state's 34 Community and Technical Colleges will sign a partnership agreement designed to make it seamless for community college graduates to transfer to WGU Washington to complete a bachelor's degree.

Speakers at the event will include newly appointed WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten, Governor Chris Gregoire's Education Policy Advisor Leslie Goldstein, legislative sponsors Senator Jim Kastama and Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenny, officials from the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, and state Community College presidents. Current WGU students living in Washington will also participate in the celebration, and several will speak about their experiences with WGU.

WGU Washington was established by the State legislature as the state's only all-online competency-based university. Created to expand access to higher education for Washington residents, nonprofit WGU Washington offers busy working adults an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited college degree. The university's four colleges, Business, Information Technology, Teachers College, and Health Professions (including Nursing), offer more than 50 accredited bachelor's and master's degrees, many with industry-specific certifications. Established through a partnership with Western Governors University, WGU Washington is open to all qualified Washington residents.

"This is an important day for both WGU Washington and for all of us who are committed to improving access to quality higher education in our state," said WGU Chancellor Jean Floten. "I am looking forward to working with our community and technical colleges and all of our state's higher ed leaders to bring this new educational opportunity to Washington residents."

"The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is very pleased with our new partnership with WGU Washington," said State Board of Community and Technical Colleges Executive Director Charlie Earl. "This agreement enables many more community and technical college graduates to take advantage of WGU Washington's terrific educational opportunities."

"Once again, Washington State is becoming a national leader by creating a virtual state university that offers full accreditation and accessibility to working adults," Senator Kastama said. "My hope is to make our state the global innovator in quality online education." 

"I was pleased to sponsor this important bill in the House," said Representative Kenney. "Establishing this new university for Washington is truly a win-win—we're making it possible for more of our residents to get the degrees they need to build their careers and improve their lives, and we're doing it without adding to the burden on our higher education budget."

"WGU Washington offers our residents another option for finishing a bachelor's or master's degree," said Governor Gregoire. "This new university, with its flexible, innovative learning model gives those with work and family obligations the opportunity to get the education they need."

WGU Washington's academic model is unique—rather than earning degrees based on credit hours or time spent in class, students are required to demonstrate competency in degree subject matter. They advance by writing papers, completing assignments, and passing exams that demonstrate their knowledge of required subject matter. This allows students to move quickly through areas where they have prior work or academic experience and focus on the areas they still need to learn. Learning is individualized and guided by the one-on-one support of a faculty mentor. Degree programs are rigorous and challenging, but designed to allow students to schedule their studies to accommodate work and family obligations. Tuition is affordable, approximately $6,000 per year for most degree programs, and federal financial aid is available. For more information, visit the WGU Washington website, http://washington.wgu.edu/.

About WGU Washington

WGU Washington was established by the State Legislature in partnership with nationally recognized and accredited Western Governors University to expand access to higher education for Washington residents. The nonprofit university, which receives no funds from the state, offers 50 bachelor's and master's degree programs in business, information technology, teacher education, and health professions, including nursing. The university's online, competency-based learning model is designed to meet the needs of working adults by providing an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited, respected college degree.

Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and nationally accredited through the Distance Education and Training Commission (DETC). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Dell, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, the Lilly Endowment, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, Qwest, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank. For more information, visit the WGU Washington website, http://washington.wgu.edu/.

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SOURCE WGU Washington