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Daniels Announces Opportunity to Increase Access to Higher Education

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Indianapolis, IN

Governor Mitch Daniels today established WGU Indiana, a partnership between the state and Western Governors University aimed at expanding access to higher education for Hoosiers and increasing the percentage of the state's adult population with education beyond high school.

"Today we mark the beginning of, in a real sense, Indiana's eighth state university. WGU Indiana will fill the clearest and most challenging gap remaining in our family of higher education opportunities, helping thousands of adult Hoosiers attain the college degrees they've wanted and needed, on a schedule they can manage, at a cost they can afford," said Daniels, who signed Executive Order 10-04, which establishes WGU Indiana.

WGU Indiana is a branch of Western Governors University, a nonprofit, online, competency-based university that offers fully accredited bachelor's and master's degrees in business, teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. The academic model is focused on individualized learning, allowing students to move quickly through areas where they have prior work or academic experience and focus on the areas they still need to learn. Students advance by writing papers, completing assignments, and passing exams that demonstrate their knowledge of required subject matter. Students can work on their own but are guided by the one-on-one support of a faculty mentor. Degree programs are designed to allow students to schedule their studies to accommodate work and family obligations. Tuition is approximately $6,000 per year for most degree programs, and Indiana state and federal financial aid are available.

The university will be established with support from the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will operate independent of direct state funding and be self-sustaining on tuition.

"WGU Indiana is a great example of the innovative thinking that is very much needed in higher education today," said Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation for Education. "Its online, competency-based approach to learning shows great promise as a cost-effective model for delivering quality higher education."

"Innovation is critical if we are to dramatically increase the number of young people who earn a degree or credential after high school," said Mark Milliron, deputy director of postsecondary success for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The programs offered by WGU Indiana, which allow students to work full time while they earn their degrees, offer another pathway for students to complete a quality college education."

Former Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon joined 18 western governors in 1997 to help found WGU. In 1998, O'Bannon entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with WGU to provide access to affordable education and training opportunities through new technologies and online learning. According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, nearly one million Hoosier adults are currently in need of further education and training.

Hoosier native and former Indiana public school teacher Allison Barber has been appointed as chancellor of WGU Indiana. Barber has served in development and education roles in the government and non-profit sector for nearly 20 years. WGU Indiana also has named seven Hoosiers to the WGU Indiana Advisory Board:

* David Harris, president & CEO of The Mind Trust
* Kathy Davis, former lieutenant governor and founder of Davis Design Group
* Jamie Merisotis, president & CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education
* Linda Buskirk, president of Accountable Solutions, Inc.
* Vince Bertram, superintendent of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
* State Senator Earline Rogers
* Ron Stiver, senior vice president of engagement & external affairs for Clarian Health

Earlier today, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education adopted a resolution supporting the governor's executive order that establishes WGU Indiana in partnership with Western Governors University.


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