Missouri’s support for private online university is questioned

It may seem odd that a state with no shortage of public colleges is urging its citizens to consider a private school. Yet that’s exactly what Missouri is doing, the St. Louis Dispatch reports. In recent months, Gov. Jay Nixon has been featured in a variety of advertisements for Western Governors University, a nonprofit online school that’s opening an office in Missouri. The governor also has issued an executive order directing state agencies to help the school establish its Missouri operation. And to help with startup costs, Missouri is providing a $4 million community development block grant. That isn’t exactly new. After all, Nixon mentioned his interest in the school during his January State of the State speech. But with Western Governors University Missouri ramping up its presence — the school recently hired a chancellor and is opening an office in St. Louis — people are starting to notice. Some even wonder why the governor is throwing his support behind a private university that could be seen as a competitor for taxpayer-supported institutions.

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