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WGU President Robert Mendenhall Named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2011 Utah Region Award Winner
Jun 24, 2011 (06:06 PM EDT)


Award Recognizes Online University President's Entrepreneurial Excellence in Technology and Education Category

SALT LAKE CITY, June 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Robert W. Mendenhall, president of nonprofit Western Governors University, www.wgu.edu, has received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2011 Utah Region Award in the Technology and Education category. Mendenhall was recognized for leading the development and growth of the online university, which has grown to over 25,000 students nationwide since it opened its virtual doors in 1999.

Established to expand access to quality college degree programs, Western Governors University is designed to meet the needs of adult learners—the average age of WGU students is 36 years old. The university uses a mentor-guided, competency-based learning model that allows students to advance by demonstrating their knowledge rather than logging time in class. This model, which uses technology to teach and allows students to take advantage of their experience and prior education, offers working adults a flexible and affordable way to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree. The average time to complete a bachelor's degree at WGU is just 2 1/2 years.

According to Ernst & Young LLP, the award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. President Mendenhall was selected by an independent panel of judges, and the award was presented at a gala event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 23.

"This award recognizes the commitment and hard work of so many people who have been instrumental in making our university what it is today," Dr. Mendenhall said. "Their commitment to making high-quality, affordable higher education more accessible is the reason for the university's growth and success."

As a Utah Region award winner, Dr. Mendenhall is now eligible for consideration for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 National Award. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the overall Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year National Award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 12, 2011. The awards are the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation's most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies, which will be held November 9–13, 2011.

About Western Governors University

"[WGU is] the best relatively cheap university you've never heard of."– TIME magazine

Featured on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, WGU is the only university in the U.S. offering competency-based degree programs and the only nonprofit, fully online university with students in all 50 states. WGU offers 50 degree programs in Business, Education, Information Technology, and Health Professions, including Nursing. Since its inception in 1997, WGU has grown into a national institution, serving more than 25,000 students. WGU is self-sustaining on tuition, and does not rely on state or national support to fund its operations.  

On June 11, 2010, WGU Indiana, referred to by Governor Mitch Daniels as Indiana's eighth state university, was formed through a partnership with the state. WGU Washington was established by the Washington State Legislature on April 22, 2011.  Subsidiaries of Western Governors University, WGU Indiana and WGU Washington are state-endorsed and offer degree programs that are accredited through Western Governors University.

WGU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). WGU nursing programs have been accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and its B.S. in Health Informatics is accredited by CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education). WGU's Teachers College is the first and only exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation for its degree programs that lead to teacher licensure from NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as AT&T, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dell, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, Qwest, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank. More information is available at www.wgu.edu or by calling 866.225.5948.

About Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries.

About Ernst & Young

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Past award winners have included Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, Arthur M. Blank of AMB Group, LLC (Home Depot, Atlanta Falcons), Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc., Ruth Fertel of Ruth's Chris Steak House, Inc., Maxine Clark of Build-a-Bear Workshop, Tom Adams of Rosetta Stone Inc., Matt Szulik of Red Hat, Inc., and last year's national winner, Howard Lutnick, Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Capital Partners, Inc.

Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are pleased to have the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a national sponsor.

In the Utah Region, local sponsors include Automatic Data Processing, Inc., Deseret News, Digital Bytes Production & Design, Diversified Insurance Group, Scherzer International, Spring2 Technologies, Strong & Hanni Law Firm, The Summit Group Communications, and Utah Business.

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 141,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young LLP is a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited operating in the US. For more information about our organization, please visit www.ey.com.

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Contact for media inquiries
Joan Mitchell – Director of PR
801-428-5463
jmitchell@wgu.edu
Contact for enrollment information:
866-225-5948
www.wgu.edu

SOURCE Western Governors University