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WGU Missouri Seen as Opportunity to Expand on Higher Ed

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is featured in a new series of commercials touting Western Governors University.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is featured in a new series of commercials touting Western Governors University.

"Our state has great options for higher education and I'm proud to say we just added one more: WGU Missouri," he says in the commercials.

WGU is an online university, which has some asking why Nixon isn't touting institutions in our state.

Ozark Technical Community College President Dr. Hal Higdon says this doesn't present a conflict for institutions like OTC, MSU or even MU because this online university courts working adults.

"First of all, I understand why the governor is excited about having Western Governors because of the goal of reaching 60 percent of post-secondary credentials both at the state and national level. It's a tall order to get there with what we do presently."

In a press conference about WGU, Nixon said, "In my first term as governor, I set an ambitious goal of increasing the number of Missourians with degrees or certificates from 37 perecent when I was sworn in at the beginning of my first term to 60 percent."

Dr. Higdon goes on to clarify, "Western Governors is an online, not-for-profit who really encourages their student to go to the community college first and then go there. So I understand why the governor is promoting that because it's another mechanism to get us to that goal of 60 percent."

Dr. Higdon says the U.S. has been slipping in global rankings for level of education.

"The goal is based on worldwide rankings of industrialized nations and what the percentage of your population that has those post-secondary credentials. America has dropped many, many places now below a lot of other areas, particularly in the far east and Europe. So if we get to 60 percent, we would be back toward the top."


WGU came to be in the mid-90s when 19 governors formed a distance learning entity, according to their website. Those governors saw it as a way to expand education in their states.
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