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Governor Nixon to Address WGU Missouri Inaugural Commencement

Online, state-endorsed university surpasses 1,000 enrolled students in Missouri

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eighteen months after its establishment, WGU Missouri, an online, nonprofit university, will hold its first commencement on Saturday, August 9. The event will celebrate 199 students who have successfully completed bachelor's or master's degrees since WGU Missouri was established last year. Governor Jay Nixon will deliver the commencement address to about 300 graduates, family, and friends who are travelling from all over the state to attend.

Commencement begins at 9:45 a.m. in the Lee Theater at the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis. In addition to recognizing its graduates, the online university will also mark another exciting milestone, surpassing 1,000 current enrolled students.   

"When we partnered with WGU last year, it was because we recognized that Missouri needed to expand its educational options, offering working adults an affordable way to earn their degrees while balancing work, family, and other commitments," said Governor Nixon. "This commencement is especially meaningful because it reinforces that WGU Missouri is a viable way for adults to earn their degrees, and for our state to build a highly skilled workforce that leads to higher-paying jobs, growing businesses and thriving communities."

Four students will share stories of their educational journeys with WGU Missouri. Student speakers include: Roy Shandy, M.S. Information Science, from St. Louis; James Winchester, MBA, from Bonne Terre; Lisa Schilling, M.S. Nursing, from Trenton; and April Fadness, B.A. Special Education, from Moberly.

"This commencement marks a turning point in the lives of WGU Missouri students," said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, WGU Missouri Chancellor. "Our graduates have invested countless hours to earn their degrees, advance their careers, and build better lives while balancing full-time jobs and caring for their families. These students are more than your typical college students. They are a testament that working adults can indeed reach their educational aspirations, and they're leading the way for more Missourians to complete their degrees."

WGU Missouri Commencement by the Numbers:

  • WGU Missouri graduates come from more than 100 cities across the state.
  • 107 undergraduate and 92 graduate degrees will be conferred.
  • The average age of the graduates is 39; the youngest is 21; the oldest is 65.
  • Nearly half the graduates represent first-generation college students.
  • Degree distribution by college:   
    • College of Business – 43
    • College of Health Professions– 65
    • College of Information Technology – 28
    • Teachers College – 63

WGU Missouri's online, competency-based model allows students to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. As a result, many students are able to accelerate their studies, finishing their degree faster and saving money. On average, students complete a bachelor's degree in under three years, most while holding a full-time job and raising a family. Because it is online, students can study and learn on a schedule that fits their busy lives.

About WGU Missouri

WGU Missouri is an online, competency-based university established to expand access to higher education for Missouri residents. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. WGU Missouri faculty members serve as mentors, working one-on-one with students, offering guidance, support, and individualized instruction.

Established in 2013 through a partnership with nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Missouri is open to all qualified Missouri residents. The university is nonprofit and self-sustaining on flat-rate tuition of about $6,000 per year for most programs.

Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*).

More information is available at or by calling 855.948.8493.

*Western Governors University offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington DC 20036, 202-877-6791).

Follow WGU Missouri:

Contact for media inquiries:
Kelly MacNeil 
[email protected]

Contact for enrollment information:



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