Significant Milestones

The university was founded in 1970 by two teachers who sought a way for adults in the workforce to pursue their doctoral degrees. Bernie and Rita Turner laid the groundwork for the university, in collaboration with Harold “Bud” Hodgkinson, a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley. One year earlier, Hodgkinson had published “Walden U.: A Working Paper,” an article that initiated the concept of a student-centered university. Brought together by a shared vision of a new kind of institution for higher education—one that focused on positive social change and allowed professionals to continue working while earning a degree—the educators named their institution “Walden University.”

1970
Walden is founded by Bernie and Rita Turner.

1972
Walden confers 46 PhDs and 24 EdDs at its first commencement in Naples, Fla.

1979
The Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board approves Walden’s request for licensure. Walden is allowed to grant PhDs and EdDs in Minnesota.

1984
The curriculum is restructured to emphasize how professions are affected by social change.

1990
Walden is accredited through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS).

2001
Walden introduces new programs: the MBA, MPA, and PhD in Public Policy and Administration.

2005
Walden celebrates 35 years of Inquiry for Social Change.

2008
The College of Education is named The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership in honor of the former U.S. Secretary of Education.

2010
Walden celebrates its 40th anniversary.

2011
President Bill Clinton addresses graduates at the 46th annual commencement ceremony.

2012
The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership and its educator preparation programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

2013
Walden celebrates its 50th commencement in Minneapolis.

Walden receives reaffirmation of accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission, which grants accreditation to Walden for 10 more years.

2014
Jonathan A. Kaplan is named the tenth president of Walden University.

2015
Walden introduces Tempo Learning™ and offers the nation’s first competency-based MS in Early Childhood Studies program using the direct assessment model. Walden becomes only the sixth institution with direct assessment approval by the U.S. Department of Education.

2016
The School of Social Work and Human Services is re-named the Barbara Solomon School of Social Work and Human Services in honor of Dr. Barbara Solomon, in recognition of her impact on the social work profession and her service to Walden as a longtime board member.

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