Fulfilling the Promise

Almost 50 years ago, Excelsior College was founded as a noble experiment: a higher education institution focused on providing adult learners with a flexible and affordable pathway to a credential—and to a middle-class life. We initially achieved our mission through the assessment of learning and the aggregation of credit earned from inside and out of the classroom. Soon after, we added credit by examination. In the early 2000s, Excelsior stood among the first to develop and offer college classes via fully online instruction.

Our success can be attributed, in my view, to an unyielding resolve to meet students where they are, academically and geographically, and the courage to adapt what we do and how we do it as the marketplace demands. We were founded to disrupt, but we succeeded by adapting to changing preferences—first, with credit by examination and, later, with online instruction.

Today, we have unleashed a transformational agenda. The Great Recession, demographic changes, and globalization have ushered in a new knowledge-based economy. State investment is retreating; alarm bells on the rising costs of an education and the value of a degree have reached a crescendo, and student choice is moving rapidly beyond traditional notions of education and credentialing. As a result, higher education institutions everywhere must consider how to best navigate this challenging terrain to fulfill their promise.

At Excelsior, we are creating a learning ecosystem that strengthens and seamlessly integrates all our offerings: instructor-led and self-paced courses, independent study for credit by examination, prior learning assessment, and stackable credentials. We’ll offer not only traditional associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs but also articulated degree pathways and skill-based professional development opportunities created in concert with employers. Excelsior students and alumni will be true lifelong learners who can engage with the College at any time of their life to meet their personal and professional goals.

For us, exceptional service manifests in compassion, agility, respect, trust, and empowerment. Our commitment to putting learners first is the foundation of this new ecosystem. We can develop the highly responsive level of service today’s learners need so they can stay competitive in our evolving knowledge-based economy. With our integrated academic offerings, we can ensure the promise made at our inception—to provide learning when, where, and how it is needed—fulfills the promise of Excelsior College.

Ever upward.

James N. Baldwin, JD, EdD