News Release: Gov. Daniels Announces New University, 6/11/10

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News Brief - 6/11/10

Governor Daniels Announces New Online University for Indiana

Executive Order establishes charter for WGU Indiana, the state’s first competency-based university

Indianapolis — Governor Mitch Daniels today announced the establishment of WGU Indiana, http://indiana.wgu.edu, a new online, competency-based university aimed at expanding access to higher education for Hoosiers. Formed by a partnership between the state and Western Governors University, the nation’s only non-profit, competency-based university, WGU Indiana offers accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.

"Today we mark the beginning of, in a real sense, Indiana's 8th 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 was elected to the board of directors of WGU in January.

WGU Indiana'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 Indiana state and federal financial aid are available.

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

"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."

Allison Barber has been appointed as WGU Indiana Chancellor. A native of Indiana and former Indiana public school teacher, Ms. Barber has served in development and education roles in the government and non-profit sector for nearly 20 years. She will be based in the WGU Indiana main office in Indianapolis, but will work with community and business leaders throughout the state to help increase awareness of the university. In addition, the governor has named seven Hoosiers to the WGU Indiana Advisory Board:

  • David Harris, President & CEO, The Mind Trust
  • Kathy Davis, former Lieutenant Governor, founder of Davis Design Group
  • Jamie Merisotis, President & CEO, Lumina Foundation for Education
  • Linda Buskirk, President, Accountable Solutions, Inc.
  • Vince Bertram, Superintendent, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
  • State Senator Earline Rogers, Indiana
  • Ron Stiver, Senior Vice President, Engagement & External Affairs, Clarian Health