Press release

WGU Earns USDLA 21st Century Distance Learning Award for the 10th Time

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Amid a global pandemic that has highlighted more than ever the value—and the necessity—of access to high-quality distance education, the nation’s first online, competency-based university is once again being recognized for its leadership on the topic. At its 2020 Virtual Conference on July 23, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) will name Western Governors University (WGU) its 2020 recipient of the 21st Century Distance Learning Award, the university’s 10th time receiving the honor.

“At WGU, we’re committed to providing high-quality online learning that connects our students with pathways to opportunity,” said Debbie Fowler, Senior Vice President of Student Success. “Now more than ever, Americans need affordable pathways to distance learning, and we won’t rest until we can ensure that all learners have the access they need to achieve their next step.”

USDLA’s 21st Century Distance Learning Award is given to an agency, institution, or company that has shown outstanding leadership in the field of distance learning. The award recognizes pioneering organizations in the field that have changed distance learning, challenged existing practice, or developed new and effective solutions. Because WGU continues to develop and implement innovations that support its mission to expand access, improve quality and relevance, and optimize student outcomes, the university has now won the annual award 10 times.

“Western Governors University continues to amaze us each year,” said Dr. Reggie Smith III, CEO / Executive Director of USDLA. “For several years now, they have consistently picked up some of our top awards in a very competitive awards program. Our awards process is not a ‘cut-and-paste-the-same-data-year-over-year’ kind of program. Every year requires new data, new outcomes, etc., and WGU has continued to deliver an exceptional submission representing the institution, composed of both qualitative and quantitative data. WGU has raised the bar of excellence again, and we are truly honored by their contributions within our industry and especially as an example of our best practices during a global pandemic with so many people learning at a distance now.”

As an all-online university, WGU is able to reach students regardless of location. And because its programs are asynchronous and competency-based, students are able to log in and take charge of their studies and complete at an accelerated pace, saving both time and money.

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 123,000 students nationwide and has more than 190,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 22 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at


The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is a non-profit association formed in 1987 and is located in Washington, D.C. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-K-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government and telehealth markets. The USDLA trademarked logo is the recognized worldwide symbol of dedicated professionals committed to the distance learning industry. For more information, visit