Gov. Rick Perry of Texas signed an order today creating a new online university affiliated with Western Governors University, to be called WGU Texas. The move is the third state spinoff of Western Governors: Indiana created one last year, and Washington chartered one in April.
Texas was among the original founders of Western Governors University, which was created in 1997 by leaders of 19 states. Back then, Texas’s governor was George W. Bush.
The new institution will exist in name only: Students enrolling in WGU Texas will be taught by existing professors from the national Western Governors and will use the same curriculum. WGU gets no new money from Texas as a result of the agreement.
WGU sees the announcement as an important marketing boost, however. “It adds a lot of credibility when the state comes out and says, We endorse this institution. It’s high quality,” says Joan Mitchell, director of public relations for Western Governors University. Since Indiana created its similar spinoff, WGU’s enrollment in the state has increased from 260 to 1,400, says Ms. Mitchell.
Students in Indiana do get one important benefit from WGU Indiana: They can now use state grants to help pay for WGU tuition.
But students in the Lone Star State will not be able to use Texas grants for WGU tuition, says Ms. Mitchell.
Community colleges in Texas also plan to work more closely with WGU from now on. The state’s community college system today announced that they are working on an “articulation agreement” that will make it easier for students to transfer to WGU Texas from a two-year college in the state.
The new spin-off campus will also create a new line of college merchandise. The new institution plans to sell T-shirts, hats, and other gear with the WGU Texas moniker. Neither WGU nor its offshoots have mascots, though. “Not yet,” says Ms. Mitchell.