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Educating Working Adults: Walden University President Jonathan Kaplan (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 24th 2010

Jonathan A. Kaplan has served as president of Walden University since September 2007. Prior to joining Walden University, Jonathan had a distinguished career in government, public policy, and law. He served in the White House as chief of staff of the National Economic Council and special assistant to the president for economic policy under President Clinton. Prior to his government service, he practiced law as an associate at Covington & Burling, a leading international law firm.

SM: Jonathan, what is your personal history leading up to this company?

JK: I was born in Boston and come from a long line of educators. My grandmother was a high school teacher, my mother chaired our local school committee, and my father headed the state board of education for many years. I was raised to care deeply about education not only as a means of individuals pursuing their own self-interest and potential but also as a great opportunity for society to raise itself up. Education has always been something that motivated me to get involved in public policy in my own career.

I spent a good deal of time after college and law school working in politics at the federal level in Washington. Today I find as the president of Walden University a great opportunity to continue pushing for something I care deeply about, which is education. We enable individuals to pursue their potential and at the same time, through our mission of affecting positive social change at Walden, enabling our more than 40,000 students and more than 40,000 alumni around the world to have a positive influence on us.

SM: What career steps led you to Walden?

JK: I graduated Harvard College almost 25 years ago. I went to work in Washington in the area of public policy. I spent a lot of time working with the Senate. Later I went to law school, and afterwards I worked at Covington & Burling, a law firm in D.C. I spent five years working in the Clinton administration, three of which I served as a special economic assistant for economic policy to the White House. I worked on education policy as well as other issues.

After I left the White House, I decided I did not want to go back to the legal world. I wanted to go into something more entrepreneurial. I thought it would have a more significant impact on the world. About eight years ago I ended up working for Walden University. I have been a part of the Walden apparatus for the past eight years and have been president for the past three years.

SM: Tell me a bit about the genesis of Walden.

JK: Walden University was founded 40 years ago, in 1970, by Bernie and Rita Turner, who were two teachers. Their objective was to help adult learners effect positive social change through education at a distance. Obviously Walden has evolved greatly since then. Today we are entirely online as an institution with more than 35 degree programs.

The vast majority of our 40,000 plus students are in graduate education. Many are teachers, but we also have nurses, psychologists, public health administrators, counselors, and other careers.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Educating Working Adults: Walden University President Jonathan Kaplan
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Great interview – the in-depth questions and the responses. I am very interested in what the student experience is. The University of Phoenix sounds great on paper but I have heard from disgruntled students and faculty. While this portrayal of Walden University makes it sound ideal for working adults in fields like education, what is their completion rate? What is the impact of graduate's careers?

Lisa Gualtieri Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 12:03 AM PT

I am very late with this reply, but I have been a student at Walden University since Sept of 2009 and I am very happy with Walden, and I have improved my career outlooks with an undergraduate degree and early master's coursework. To see retention rates, just go to Walden's website.



Jacob Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 3:40 PM PT

Walden has changed since I last attended and it's not for the better. There seems to be less cohesiveness and a lack of professionalism among staff and administrative. Every one isdoing their own thing and no one seems to be in charge. I am trying to complete my doctoral that is in completion since five years ago and no one seems to want to help.

Former student Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 6:51 PM PT

I stated with Walden in 2006 and so far it has been an awful experience. Instructors have not shown up for presentations, late with papers coming back, no remarks on the papers when they were returned, instructos don't return phone calls, wont call when asked and no one cares. I asked for a change in Chair three times and it was not until I stated I would not pay the tuition that I got the change. Once the change in Chair took place, it feels like I am starting all over. This appears to be a pattern with the doctoral program in education. Go on line and look at the reviews. I am writing the Attorney General in Minnesota.

current student Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM PT

I have been attempting to obtain a doctoral degree from Walden for 2 years now, and the experience has been AWEFUL! The faculty have no idea what they are doing, and I have been going around in circles trying to meet their vague demands. Walden is nothing more than a money-making scheme, and few people in real academic circles seem to value any degree from this institution.

Disappointed Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 7:31 AM PT

Hi all, I am finishing a B.S. degree in psychology and I am enrolling into the M.S. in Information technology program at Walden University. I am more than pleased with the University, the faculty and the rigor/relevance of the coursework. I intend on combining psychological and technological factors into work on human and online dynamics to improve education. My intended specialization will be software engineering. I decied to stay at Walden due to the quality of the education, vastness of the online library and the relevance of the degree I have earned thus far.

Jacob Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 3:39 PM PT

In Defense of Walden University's Integrity (08-30-2011)

Hi Everyone;

Thank you Jacob for standing up and supporting Walden University in this public domain. I obtained my Undergraduate in "software engineering (BSSO-E)", my Master's in "information technology management (MSM)"; and I am currently two years into my doctorate in Clinical psychology program. I know what rigor is. Believe me Walden University is rigorous. I am working on a psychometric instrument for my dissertation. I really don't know where some people are getting all their information. Students are allowed to measure, and rate professor’s performance at the end of every quarter/semester. Maybe some people might be disgruntle, or frustrated for not being paid the attention they feel they deserved.

Candrick C.D.

Candrick. C.D. Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:24 PM PT

In Defense of Walden University's Integrity Part II (08-30-2011)

Professors are not miracle workers for changing bad attitude, over inflicted expectations, and making people to exhibit professionalism even when things don't go right. This is a self starter environment. You have to be motivated to pursue your career objectives, and dreams. Walden has the best online learning environment in the world; there is no doubt about it.

Take it from me, a current student who attended and graduated from another online university. They are like any business enterprise that is profit driven. That is what makes it competitively great!

Thank you again Jacob… we are all invested in a great outcome for Walden University. As it rises, we too shall rise in depth, and perception.

Candrick C.D.

Candrick C.D. Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:26 PM PT