Western Governors University Wins Two Distance Learning Awards


Western Governors University, Salt Lake City

Western Governors University, a public online university based in Salt Lake City and founded by 19 U.S. governors, continues to make a mark for itself in the competitive distance learning arena. The school, which educates more than 23,000 students in all 50 states, recently was recognized by the United States Distance Learning Association, winning it second “21st Century Award for Best Practices” in Distance Learning. An Associate Provost, Dr. Phillip Schmidt, received an “Outstanding Leadership” award.

University Recognition

WGU was recognized by the USDLA “for being a pioneer in distance learning by creating programs that are innovative, comprehensive, and effective.” The school, chartered in 1997 as a non-profit university, presents an academic model that is considered unique, even among providers of distance learning, called competency-based learning. This model, which uses technology to teach and allows students to advance when they demonstrate their knowledge, decreases the average time required to graduate without sacrificing academic rigor.

USDLA’s Award for Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning has been presented to Dr. Phillip Schmidt, Associate Provost, WGU Teachers College. Dr. Schmidt was recognized for his leading role in the development of the university’s math and science education programs, which are nationally known for their excellence, and for his efforts to earn accreditation for WGU’s teacher education programs. Before joining WGU in 2002, Dr. Schmidt served as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Berea College and Dean of the Department of Secondary Education at SUNY New Paltz. The author of several mathematics texts and numerous articles, Dr. Schmidt earned his Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

USDLA Recognition

“As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we are honoring Western Governors University and Dr. Schmidt for their leadership in our industry,” said Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of USDLA. “The work being done by WGU and Dr. Schmidt continues to raise the bar and exceed best practices expectations for the industry as a whole, and we are truly honored by their contributions to the distance learning industry.”

WGU currently offers 50 degree programs in a variety of disciplines including business, health, education and technology. The school relies exclusively on tuition to fund its operation, charging students rates that are far below what many for-profit distance learning schools charge.1

WGU Subsidiaries

In June 2010, WGU Indiana was launched and in April 2011 WGU Washington received approval from the state of Washington to operate. Both schools are subsidiaries of the Western Governors University and operate in partnership with the respective states. Degree programs are accredited through Western Governors University.2

References & Resources

United States Distance Learning Association: Home

1 Western Governors University: Overview

2 USA Today; Indiana Teams up with WGU to Educate Adults Online; Doug Lederman; July 14, 2010


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