5 questions for Catherine Truitt
WGU North Carolina Chancellor Catherine Truitt joined the online university after serving as associate vice president of University and P-12 Partnerships at UNC General Administration, providing support for public colleges through a “student-first” lens by focusing on improving educational outcomes for North Carolina children. Truitt, whose career also includes teaching in Johnston County schools for three years and serving as ex-Gov. Pat McCrory’s education adviser, earned her Master of Education from the University of Washington. As of February, WGU North Carolina had more than 3,100 students enrolled in the state.
What led you to the WGU North Carolina chancellor position?
For the first 12 years of my career, I taught English, followed by three years of consulting in high-poverty public schools across the country. In 2016, I joined the McCrory administration as his education advisor, where I was responsible for all facets of education from pre-K to higher education. I continued my journey in the higher-ed space working for President Margaret Spellings at the UNC System office and learned a lot about issues around access and affordability in post-secondary education. Becoming the chancellor of WGU North Carolina was a natural progression because I was immersed in the challenge of how universities can work to serve adult learners better, and how important it is for North Carolina to make this shift as we try to reach our workforce goals. The mission of WGU North Carolina is to do just that: increase access to high-quality higher education degrees to adults with some college and no degree.
Why is it important for Western Governors University to have an affiliate in North Carolina?
Having a team with boots on the ground in North Carolina allows WGU to work not just for our students, but for their employers as well. We are very good at helping companies recruit and retain highly qualified employees. We love to connect both current students to companies and companies’ employees to WGU so they can upskill without having to stop working.
How is WGU North Carolina helping meet the state’s future workforce needs?
Seventy-six percent of our students work full-time while attending WGU North Carolina as a full-time student. We are a 100% teaching university — no athletics, no research, no buildings — and we have four colleges: IT, health care, education and business. North Carolina has workforce shortages in IT, nursing and teaching — matching three of our four colleges! Our low tuition of about $6,400 per year and asynchronous learning platform makes it possible for adults to return to school without having to stop working.
What is competency-based education and how does it make WGU different from other online universities?
CBE measures learning rather than time. Students progress through courses as soon as they can prove they’ve mastered the material, rather than advancing only when the semester or term ends. This model saves time and money, and also generally allows for more credits to transfer, so students don’t necessarily have to repeat coursework they’ve completed elsewhere. Although WGU did not invent the concept, we are a recognized leader in CBE, and other universities are now exploring it.
How is WGU reaching out to North Carolina’s underserved populations?
North Carolina has the third largest community-college system in the nation, and the majority of those campuses are located in rural counties. Through partnerships with these colleges, we are able to extend scholarship dollars and special outreach efforts to those students who want to pursue a four-year degree upon completion of their community college program. Also, the support WGU gives its students in the enrollment process — one-on-one support for financial aid, transcript evaluation and scholarships — as well as upon matriculation (for instance, every student has a mentor) is perfect for first-generation college students who may not have someone to help them navigate the application process or keep them accountable in their studies.
WGU North Carolina, an online competency-based university, offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs including business, K-12 teacher education, information technology and health professions. Check out their full list of degree programs and admissions guide, sign up for their newsletter, or follow them on social media to jump start your education. If you or someone you know is considering online competency-based education to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree, call 1-866-903-0109 to speak to an enrollment counselor.