A Lot Can Happen in Two Years: Happy Anniversary WGU Missouri!
Two years may seem like a long time to some, but for others the pace of change can be dramatic. In February 2013, at an event at the Kauffman Foundation, Governor Jay Nixon and Western Governors University President Bob Mendenhall announced the creation of the state affiliate WGU Missouri.
At the time, there were 455 Missourians attending Western Governors University. In addition, 293 Missourians had earned a degree from WGU since it began in 1997. Two years later, a lot has changed.
- Enrollment in WGU Missouri has grown by 987 students to 1,442 (as of January 31, 2015), representing a 217% increase in two years.
- The total number of Missourians who have earned a WGU degree has increased from 293 to 574.
- The inaugural commencement ceremony in August 2014 for WGU Missouri celebrated 199 graduates.
- The average time to earn a bachelor's degree for that graduating group was 2 years and 4 months.
- The number of Missourians working for WGU increased by 440% from 15 employees to 81.
- The number of companies partnering to offer their Missouri employees a discount on WGU tuition has grown to 84.
WGU Missouri is earning respect. The number of Missourians capitalizing on our model—the most efficient, most affordable option for busy adults to earn a degree—is having an economic impact in our state. More importantly, the WGU Missouri opportunity is making a difference for families.
Take Natalie Hill, a mother of two boys who worked her way up from an ER tech to a nurse educator with the help of a WGU Missouri education. Hill completed the RN-to-MSN program while working full time at Mercy Springfield and now oversees nurse education for two hospitals.
WGU Missouri's competency-based education model allows students to work at their own pace. Rebecca Balfanz always wanted to create a legacy of education for her family. The nearest four-year college is a 45-minute drive from her home, and this mother of two struggled to earn her college degree before finding WGU Missouri. The university fit her life, especially when her husband underwent a kidney transplant. "I was able to take time for my family at the moment they needed me, without worrying I would be kicked out of school," says Rebecca. She's still on track to finish her degree early.
By finishing faster, WGU Missouri students not only pay less but also can begin earning more sooner. Stephen Brewer got out of the Air Force at age 26 and used his experience and skills to complete a bachelor's degree in IT in a single term. He completed 68 competency units beyond those he transferred in and paid only $2,890 in tuition. "In the military they teach you to work efficiently, and I applied those skills at WGU," says Stephen.
It's important to reflect on landmark moments like this anniversary. As WGU Missouri launches into its third year, we can celebrate the great accomplishments of our students, alumni, and faculty and begin to set more goals for the future.
One of our key goals will be increasing the WGU Missouri Show Me Pride. The more people who know about our great university and the WGU difference, the more valuable a WGU Missouri degree becomes. We encourage each of you to share your story with others. We also want to keep changing lives. Our dream for Missouri is stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger state.
Happy second anniversary, WGU Missouri … where two years has more than doubled our success!