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"By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world." -- President Barack Obama

Military Programs Expand

The College's important and ongoing relationship with the military began with the examinations program, first offered directly to servicemembers early in the College's history and later through the American College Testing program. According to Williams, in what he describes as a "hand-in-glove" situation, "The percentage [of students in the military], indeed, in the early days, was about 50 percent on active duty..." The College also began to evaluate and award credit for military training courses as the result of a subsequent grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which supported pioneering work with the American Council on Education to recognize industry and non-collegiate courses as worthy of college credit consideration. Over the years, the College has expanded its variety of military-friendly programs to include not only active duty servicemembers but also the National Guard, veterans, retirees, Department of Defense civilians, and military families. Named a top military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the College now has a student body that is 30 percent servicemembers.

Founders' Vision Supports National Education Goals

Since the first class of 77 men and women graduated in 1972, more than 136,000 individuals now know Excelsior College as their alma mater. A formal alumni association was first established in 1978. This vibrant Excelsior College Alumni Association continues to expand its outreach, hosting an annual meeting each year during the College's Commencement activities and staying in touch with its membership worldwide via Web chats, regional events, a monthly newsletter, and social networking. In support of the College's commitment to lifelong learning, an alumni library project was piloted in 2008 to offer resources and services designed specifically with the needs of graduates in mind.

Throughout its history, Excelsior has provided opportunities for working adults to earn affordable and respected college degrees. This foresight by the College's founders now supports President Barack Obama's educational agenda in which he has made college completion one of his administration's goals. Education, he believes, is the economic issue of our time. "By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world," Obama has proclaimed. In setting that goal, the President has proposed a plan to address college completion and strengthen the higher education pipeline to ensure that more students succeed and complete their degrees. Helping to meet this objective is Excelsior College.

Since the awarding of its first degrees, the College's programs have blossomed. Excelsior is now comprised of four schools (Business & Technology, Health Sciences, Nursing, and Liberal Arts). It offers 27 associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs; six credit-bearing certificate programs; and a Center for Professional Development with more than 120 non-credit online programs. And one of its earliest innovations, the Credit Bank, which was established in 1974, continues to provide a unique service, aggregating and recording on one official transcript all of a student's accumulated college credit from the colleges and universities from which those credits were earned.

Finally, the greatest testament to the innovations charted by the College's founders is the success of so many working adults who have earned degrees and capitalized on their Excelsior College education. "With great pride," reflects Nolan, "I look at what the institution has become: It's beyond our wildest imagination."

The College Thanks
C. Wayne Williams,
Dr. Donald Nolan, and
Robert Stone, three of
the College's founders,
who generously agreed
to the interview on which
this article is based.

by Dana Yanulavich, Senior Editor

6 | Live & Learn 40th Anniversary Edition

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