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Excelsior College Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2021



This year, Excelsior College, an accredited, not-for-profit online college focused on helping adults complete their degrees and advance their careers, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Excelsior College was founded in 1971 as the Regents External Degree Program by the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York with a mission of providing adult learners with a flexible and affordable pathway to earn a college degree. The founders recognized that learning happens outside as well as in the classroom, and developed a means to evaluate that experience for credit toward a college degree. Today, Excelsior celebrates more than 182,000 alumni from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and other countries around the world.

In 2004, Excelsior College began to offer courses online, setting the bar for providing an academically rigorous and engaging education at a distance. In celebrating 50 years, success can be measured by the number of alumni who have elevated their careers and transformed their lives by earning an Excelsior degree. With a proven remote education model, during the COVID-19 pandemic, our more than 23,000 students and 900 faculty meet as they always have and without interruption—online.

“Nearly 50 years ago, Excelsior College changed the landscape of higher education with its innovative approach to helping students earn degrees through credit aggregation, competency-based education, and prior learning assessment. Today, Excelsior is more innovative than ever, helping students from all backgrounds earn degrees and other credentials in ways that work for them,” said David Schejbal, PhD, president of Excelsior College. “We look forward to celebrating the College’s 50 successful years and planning the next 50. Our future is as bright as our students, and together we will continue to change the landscape of higher education.”

Overall, Excelsior College’s success can be attributed to an unyielding resolve to meet students where they are, academically and geographically, and the courage to adapt what it does and how it does it as the marketplace demands. Excelsior offers traditional associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs, planned degree pathways, and skill-based professional development opportunities created in partnership with employers, along with career and professional skills training.

In honor of this anniversary milestone, Excelsior College launched a 24-month fundraising campaign. After six months, Elevate: The Campaign for Student Scholarships is nearly halfway to its goal to raise $750,000 for scholarship support for students with financial need. Mary O’Connor, a graduate of Excelsior College’s nursing program who served as trustee from 2005 through 2020, shares, “Excelsior College’s nursing program launched me into a journey of lifelong learning and career achievement. In our 50th anniversary year, we are committed to increasing available funds for need-based student scholarships. I am proud to serve on the campaign committee and pledge my support to student scholarships alongside this strong community.”

Excelsior College takes pride in creating equity in access to higher education and in serving those historically underrepresented. From 1971 to 1985, while the College operated as the Regents External Degree Program, 26,420 people earned degrees. From 1986 to 1998, 52,663 graduates earned degrees from Regents College, as the institution was then known. In April 1998, the Board of Regents granted the College a charter to operate as a private, not-for-profit, independent institution, and on January 1, 2001, Regents College changed its name to Excelsior College.

More details about the 50th anniversary campaign are available at excelsior.edu/elevate.

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