Although Western Governors University‘s education degrees are still not accepted as a step toward licensure in all U.S. states, in a growing number of states, an education degree from WGU can be used to pursue certification at the state level. In addition, WGU offers a wide range of master’s level degrees for practicing teachers who want to acquire an additional credential. With the recent appointment of Dr. Deborah Eldridge, who will join WGU as Academic Vice President of the online university’s Teachers College, it seems likely that WGU will continue to gain students and credibility. Dr. Eldridge brings a solid track record of research, funding, and higher education leadership to WGU, as well as considerable experience working for accreditation boards.
Western Governors University Welcomes Dr. Eldridge
Prior to accepting her new WGU position, Dr. Eldridge was a Senior VP at the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Previously, Dr. Eldridge worked in teacher preparation programs at Hunter College and Montclair State University and served in dean roles at two CUNY colleges–Hunter College and Lehman College.
Dr. Eldridge also has a strong research funding history and is a nationally recognized expert on accreditation issues. Indeed, she is the author of several edited collections and books in the field, including a 2016 collection, Teacher Quality and Teacher Education Quality, which explores the recent transformation of accreditation on an international scale. Dr. Eldridge’s earlier books include Teacher Talk and Teaching and Learning in the (dis)Comfort Zone.
Sarah DeMark, Vice President of Program Development at WGU, emphasizes, “Dr. Eldridge’s experience and leadership will ensure that the programs and curriculum offered at WGU will continue to produce high-quality, well-prepared teachers.” What DeMark doesn’t mention is that the timing of Dr. Eldridge’s appointment is also highly strategic.
Over the past year, the university has come under scrutiny as an online competency-based university. As previously reported on eLearning Inside News, in 2017 a federal audit found that at least 37,899 of the university’s 61,180 regular students (or 62%) took one or more courses that failed to meet federal standards in the 2013 to 2014 school year. In addition, 69 required courses at WGU failed to meet federal standards. At issue was the delivery format of WGU’s courses. Bringing in an expert on accreditation, it seems likely that Dr. Eldridge’s appointment will not only be good news for the WGU Teachers College but also help the university make a strong case for the value of its existing programs and competency-based model.
About the WGU Teachers College
WGU’s Teachers College was the first online college to earn accreditation from NCATE. Its programs lead to teacher licensure in some U.S. states, as well as bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate, and master’s degrees for aspiring and already-licensed teachers and K–12 leaders.
WGU dates back to 1997 when 19 U.S. governors collaborated to establish an online university. Since then, the university has graduated by more than 100,000 graduates.