Western Governors University polis proclamation signing

Left to right: former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, Gov. Jared Polis, WGU student Kaitlyn Heaton, WGU President Scott Pulsipher. 

Gov. Jared Polis joined forces with former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer last week to partner with Western Governors University — a private nonprofit online university founded by Romer and 18 other governors. 

Polis signed a proclamation declaring Feb. 6 as "WGU Colorado Day," recognizing an official partnership between the state and the organization, which WGU officials said will entail supporting Coloradans with partial college credits to finish their degrees. 

"We are continuing to invest in Colorado's strong workforce, making sure Coloradans have the skills and resources they need to thrive, and WGU is an important part of that work," Polis said. "WGU is an essential provider of affordable, higher education, creating more opportunities for students to get the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workforce and in life."

In Colorado, more than 707,000 residents have college credits but no degree, according to National Student Clearinghouse records. Since WGU was established in 1997, over 6,700 Coloradans have graduated from the university. 

Nearly 55% of Colorado student attending WGU are from one or more historically underserved populations, including rural, low-income and first-generation college students, according to the university. WGU students in Colorado are also 82% full-time workers and are 33 years old on average.

The partnership with WGU comes as the state legislature is pursuing multiple bills seeking to expand adult education in the state, most notably Senate Bill 3 to create a free, in-person adult high school. 

"For Coloradans to be competitive in the global economy, more people need the skills and knowledge to support economic mobility," the proclamation read. "WGU provides a unique and vital opportunity to increase the number of adult working learners with a postsecondary credential."

The state partnership also launched a new scholarship within the university for Colorado students, named the WGU Colorado Roy Romer Opportunity Scholarship, after the former governor. The first recipient of the $1,000 per term scholarship, Kaitlyn Heaton, was honored at the proclamation signing along with WGU President Scott Pulsipher. 

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