WSU President Smith: ‘Lifelong Learning’ Now Possible

Washington, D.C. — Higher education now has the technological means and public support
to make lifelong learning a reality in the United States, according to Washington State University
President Samuel Smith. He and 23 other public university presidents and chancellors made that
case in a Kellogg Commission report issued recently.
The report, Returning to Our Roots: A Learning Society, is in the form of a letter sent to
chief executives of the nation’s state and land-grant universities. It urges public and land-grant
institutions to provide faculty with the professional development support they need to create
active learning environments, while equipping students with higher-order reasoning skills.
It also recommends that colleges and universities make lifelong learning part of their core
mission by broadening the range of learning opportunities, expanding partnerships, using
resources more efficiently, and taking a close look at accreditation standards.
The report cites recent survey research data indicating strong support among opinion
leaders for technology-based lifelong learning initiatives by universities. For example, a poll of 35
state governors found 94 percent supported using technology to help postsecondary
institutions deliver more educational offerings.
“WSU, like other public institutions, must meet the growing demands from the citizens of
our state for education throughout their lifetimes,” said Smith. “We are doing so by changing the
way we as a university do business and by working with our state’s legislature, Gov. Locke and
the federal government to increase support for lifelong learning.”
WSU’s Extended Degree Programs, launched in 1991, today enroll more than 1,000 students
in every county in Washington, 44 other states and 15 foreign countries.
Smith serves on the 24-member Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant
Universities, created by a grant given from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the National
Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. A Learning Society is the fourth in a
series of six commission reports being issued between 1996 and 2000.
Recognized nationally as a leader in distance education, Smith is NASULGC chair-elect. He
becomes chair in November.
The entire text of A Learning Society is available online at .