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CED Policy Luncheon in Washington DC with Dr. Robert Mendenhall

On March 29, 2011, Dr. Robert Mendenhall, CED Trustee and President and CEO of Western Governors University, was the featured speaker at a CED policy luncheon in Washington, D.C. Dr. Mendenhall discussed the post-secondary education needs of millions of Americans who will not attend a traditional four year college or university. He also covered how the Internet and online learning is reshaping higher education.

Dr. Mendenhall is a member of CED's Postsecondary Education Subcommittee. The Subcommittee, chaired by CED Trustees Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower, Inc., and Bruce MacLaury, President Emeritus of The Brookings Institution, was created to identify key issues challenging postsecondary education and potential potential areas for structural reform where a business voice could legitimately and effectively lead to change.

About Robert Mendenhall
CED Trustee Robert W. Mendenhall, Ph.D., is President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Governors University (WGU) and a member of CED's recently formed Postsecondary Education Design Committee. 

Dr. Mendenhall has more than 30 years of experience in the development, marketing and delivery of technology-based education.   Prior to joining WGU, he was general manager of IBM’s K-12 education division, overseeing a $500 million worldwide business.  From 1980 to 1992, he was a founder, president and CEO (from 1987) of Wicat Systems, Inc., a publicly traded company which was a leader in providing computer-based curriculum, instructional management and testing to schools, and technology-based training to government and industry.

Dr. Mendenhall is a recipient of the prestigious McGraw Prize in Education.  He served on the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education.  He has also served on the NGA/ASTD Commission on Technology & Adult Learning, on IBM’s Education Advisory Council, on the National Forum on 21st Century Skills Education Advisory Board, and on the Technology Working Group for the California Postsecondary Education Commission.  He is a former member of the Board of the Department of Business and Economic Development for the State of Utah.  In 2010, he received the U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Award for Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning, and was name Utah CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine.

About Western Governors Univeristy
Western Governors University is the only accredited, non-profit university in the country granting online, competency-based degrees and was established by 19 western state governors in 1997.  WGU’s mission is to utilize technology to teach rather than just deliver classroom education, to measure learning instead of time through the competency-based model, to make higher education more affordable while improving educational quality, to expand access to underserved populations, and to meet key workforce needs. 

Since receiving regional accreditation in early 2003, the University has grown from 500 students to over 24,000, and continues to grow at 30% annually.  WGU currently has students in all 50 states, most of whom are working adults (average age is 36), and the average time to graduate with a bachelor’s degree is 30 months.  Current degree offerings include bachelor and master’s degrees in business, information technology, K-12 teacher education (including initial teacher licensure), and health professions (including nursing and health informatics).  Although created by governors, WGU does not receive state funding, and is self-sustaining on tuition of $5,800 per twelve-month year.  In June 2010, WGU partnered with the State of Indiana to create WGU Indiana, announced by Governor Mitch Daniels, as the “eighth state university”.  In just three months since the launch, WGU Indiana now accounts for 10% of all WGU new student enrollments each month whereas Indiana students were previously only 1% of WGU enrollment.