Gov. Mitch Daniels is still promoting the online college known as Western Governors University just months before he becomes Purdue University's new president.
Daniels has appeared in commercials for the past two years touting WGU, a not-for-profit with a board based in Salt Lake City. He signed an executive order in 2010 creating an Indiana branch of the online college.
His spokeswoman, Jane Jankowski, said Daniels "will continue to speak supportively of WGU" until his second term ends in January.
But the governor, who assumes Purdue's presidency in January, resigned from WGU's national board in June. And on Purdue's campus, Daniels' face is fading from advertisements that once featured him referring to WGU as Indiana's eighth public college.
WGU-Indiana chancellor Allison Barber said that change is coincidental, as are a new series of WGU television ads without Daniels.
She said the new WGU ads focus on students and were filmed in April, two months before Daniels was chosen as Purdue's next president.
"The governor is still a supporter, and he still promotes WGU-Indiana," Barber told the Journal & Courier for a Sunday story.
Daniels' appearance in ads helped get the word out about WGU-Indiana, which this fall reached a milestone enrollment of 3,000 students, she said.
Since his selection as Purdue president, Daniels has stressed to the Purdue community that the West Lafayette school is not in competition with WGU. The online college's mission is to offer degree opportunities to those already working and first-generation college students.
WGU's website states that its degrees are competency-based, not credit-hour based like Purdue's. And WGU-Indiana's base tuition for a six-month term ranges from $2,890 for information technology students to $4,250 for those in the nursing program seeking Bachelor of Science degrees.
By contrast, Purdue's tuition is $9,900 this fall.
However, the rapid expansion of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, is generating a lot of discussion these days in higher education.
Purdue officials have cautioned against that model but are testing paid online programs and urging more faculty to consider courses that mix classroom and online elements.
J. Paul Robinson, chairman of the Purdue University Senate and a cytomics professor, said it's clear to many that Daniels' focus is on Purdue.
"One thing is for sure — Daniels will come into Purdue with his WGU experience and will be able to share that to become part of an overall knowledge base Purdue has in online education," Robinson said.