Learn More About Scott Pulsipher
Higher education is fundamentally changing. As the job market shifts to require continuous learning and reskilling from employees, students are no longer overwhelmingly in the 18-24 age group, or from middle- or upper-class backgrounds. Yet most traditional colleges have not adapted to these new realities. In this space, Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University (WGU), is leading a new model of higher education that is widening access for more people than ever before, whether adult learners with full-time jobs and families, or 18-year-olds looking to obtain a degree without leaving home or accruing enormous amounts of debt. Beyond education, Pulsipher draws on his extensive experience as a strategic and visionary business executive to embody a style of leadership that places the customer (student) at the center of an organization’s strategy.
Pulsipher’s approach to leadership and higher education rests on two essential beliefs: that every individual has value and the ability to learn, and that education is one of the surest pathways to opportunity and a more fulfilling life. These core beliefs drive the work Pulsipher leads at WGU, which has graduated 150,000 students in less than 20 years. Online and nonprofit, WGU has pioneered competency-based learning, which focuses on measuring and documenting learning rather than time spent in class.
Pulsipher’s leadership methods center on intense use of data to inform decision-making and improve student outcomes. Data provides enormous insights into what consumers in any industry want and need, says Pulsipher. Consequently, he pioneered data-mining practices at WGU that have led to higher quality of life and job readiness for students, as well as helping to grow the student body. In his keynotes, Pulsipher not only explains his model for higher education, offering lessons for building and leading a digital organization, but elaborates on the broader theme of how to think about and implement innovation in a changing world.
Focused on meeting the needs of underserved, nontraditional students who need access to more affordable and flexible learning and credentialing opportunities, WGU is known for innovating on behalf of students. This innovation has helped drive the university’s exponential growth – from approximately 1,000 in 2003 to 115,000 in 2019. Today, WGU is attracting a new generation of students, diverse in age, race and ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.
Pulsipher’s expertise as an innovator is far from limited to education. Prior to joining WGU, he was a leader serving several technology-based, customer-focused businesses, including Amazon, Sterling Commerce (now part of IBM), and two successful startups that traversed the retail, supply chain, banking, payments and manufacturing sectors. Pulsipher serves on multiple higher education and technology boards, including: Education Co-Chair for Committee for Economic Development, advisory board member at the Presidents’ Forum, board member at the American Council on Education, and member of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.
Pulsipher earned an MBA from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in management from Brigham Young University.
Scott Pulsipher is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.