SEATTLE – (April 16, 2016) – WGU Washington awarded nearly 1,900 bachelor’s and master’s degrees to students from across the state today at its fifth annual commencement ceremony. Graduates, family members, faculty and supporters packed KeyArena in Seattle to celebrate the online university’s largest class of graduates yet. The 2016 graduating class is 17 percent larger than last year’s class of graduates.
In the five years since state lawmakers established WGU Washington, the university’s enrollment has grown more than 1,000 percent and now exceeds 9,200 full-time students – making it the sixth largest university in the state. Additionally, more than 5,600 Washingtonians, including this year’s class, have earned degrees from WGU Washington.
This year’s commencement ceremony kicks-off what Gov. Jay Inslee has dedicated as WGU Washington Week. In recognition of the university’s fifth anniversary, as well as its impact on the state and all the hard work of its students, graduates, faculty and staff, Gov. Inslee signed a proclamation declaring April 16 – 23 WGU Washington Week. That period of celebration also includes April 22, the anniversary of the day in 2011 Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law the bill creating WGU Washington.
“We are incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of this year’s graduating class,” said WGU Washington Chancellor Jean Floten. “This commencement ceremony – and all the graduates we are celebrating today – is the manifestation of the mission laid out when WGU Washington was created five years ago. Today’s event embodies what the university is all about and is the perfect start to WGU Washington Week.”
Today, more than 400 graduates from communities across the state participated in the ceremony. Others tuned in to watch it on the university’s YouTube page. Graduates, friends and families across the state celebrated commencement on social media with the hashtag #WGUWA16.
Executive Director of the Washington Student Achievement Council Dr. Gene Sharratt delivered the keynote address at the ceremony.
About WGU Washington
WGU Washington was established by the State Legislature in 2011 in partnership with nationally recognized and accredited Western Governors University to expand access to higher education for Washington residents.
The state-endorsed, online university offers more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Business, Information Technology, Teacher Education and Health Professions, including Nursing. WGU Washington’s competency-based learning model is designed to meet the needs of working adults by providing an affordable, flexible option for earning an accredited, respected college degree. It’s non-profit and receives no money from the state.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges; Universities Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations including AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, SunGard Higher Education and Zions Bank.