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Meet Richard (Rick) Benbow of Western Governors University

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard (Rick) Benbow.

Hi Richard (Rick), so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I have worked in the public and private sectors. Both experiences provided me the opportunity to positively impact the community, solve social problems, and create shared value.

I am passionate about driving innovation in higher education. Traditional models of higher learning are limiting in our post-COVID environment, particularly when it comes to ensuring equitable access for underserved communities, including people from communities of color, low-income families, those from rural locations, and the families in which previous generations did not have the opportunity or economic means to pursue higher education. I want to inspire new ideas forward in removing barriers to success with high-quality remote learning and tuition rates that families can afford despite their financial circumstances. Making that connection for people–who can pursue their dream of higher education and an ultimately better life–both keep me up at night and gets me out of bed every morning.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Change is difficult. Making an impact or difference in the community requires improving old models, creating new ones, and developing the business case with data. Change involves challenging prevailing thought or methodologies, leading through resistance, and delivering desired outcomes. It is not an easy task, but the reward is fulfilling.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
The promise of higher education is the surest path to opportunity—and it’s a promise WGU intends to keep.

Our belief in education’s transformative power and our commitment to improving its quality, accessibility, and outcomes compel us to do more. They compel us to invest in endeavors that we hope will transform the institution and the system of higher education as we strive to make opportunities available for everyone.

WGU is known for its flexible learning architecture and multi-dimensional delivery, which allows us to better personalize learning, adapt to changing workforce needs and provide relevant pathways for an individual’s first and next opportunity.

Our commitment to measurable student impact will ensure accountability as we innovate through failures and invest for the long term. We won’t rest in our effort to expand equitable access and attainment or in our effort to accelerate the advancement of our mission of creating pathways to opportunity.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
1. Nothing is guaranteed.
2. We need each other to thrive.
3. There is a difference between equal and equitable.
4. Equitable broadband access can help with opportunity and achievement gaps.
5. We can pivot and adapt with the best of them.
6. Just keep swimming!

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