By David Hubler and Glynn Cosker
American Public University System (APUS) is celebrating its 30th anniversary since being founded as American Military University (AMU) on June 11, 1991.
Since its inception, AMU has helped military personnel earn their degrees, and the University has become an innovator and leader in providing quality online education. Today, the university system is one of the largest providers of online higher education — offering more than 200 academic programs to students enrolled worldwide.
Retired Marine Corps Major James P. Etter — a 26-year veteran of the Marine Corps with service in Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War — founded AMU (and became its first president) as a way to help servicemembers further their education and transition out of the military.
“I was very lucky when I retired,” Major Etter told Profiles in Success in 2020. “I had saved well and didn’t have to find a job right away. So I spent about two years in my basement, trying to envision what a 21st-century university would look like. The conventional paradigm of going off to college after high school had its appeal, but it doesn’t work for everyone.”
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the University is set to unveil a brand new logo:
Some of American Public University System’s Milestones Over 30 Years:
1991 – American Military University is founded by Retired Marine Corps Major James P. Etter.
1993 – Operations officially begins with the enrollment of just a handful of students using conventional correspondence instruction.
1995 – AMU earns national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
1995 – The University conducts its inaugural commencement ceremony with five graduates: two Air Force officers, an active-duty Army reserve officer, a Marine officer, and a teacher.
1998 – AMU becomes one of the first fully online universities in the nation.
2002 – AMU becomes part of the American Public University System (APUS) and American Public University (APU) is created.
2003 – APUS relocates its headquarters from Virginia to Charles Town, W. Va., marking the first step to becoming a top employer in the state and revitalizing the community. In Charles Town, AMU acquires several 19th-century buildings — restoring them for modern office use, while preserving those historic properties.
2004 – Dr. Wallace E. Boston is named CEO and inaugurated as Second President.
2006 – APUS achieves regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2007 – APUS’s parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI), becomes a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
2010 – The 45,000 square foot Academic Center opens and later receives LEED Gold-Level Certification, ushering in a new era of climate neutrality by converting a former “brownfield” site into a cleaner environment for the City of Charles Town.
2011 – APUS receives HLC reaccreditation and elevated to a 10-year review cycle as a “mature” institution of higher education; the first specialty accreditation is awarded to APUS by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
2012 – As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, APUS opens the 105,000 square foot Finance Center, which attains LEED Platinum Certification, the highest green rating, and is internationally recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council.
2012 – Named #3 on Forbes list of best performing small cap growth companies.
2013 – APUS ranks #22 on the U.S. News & World Report’s, “Best Online Bachelor’s Program.”
2013 – APEI acquires Hondros College.
2013 – APUS receives Environmental Excellence Award for Clean Energy from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
2017 – The state-of-the-art APUS Observatory, featuring the Planewave CDK24 telescope, debuts atop the Information Technology building.
2020 – APUS ranks in the top 2% for a return on investment compared to colleges and universities nationwide according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
2020 – APUS launches the Freedom Grant, which enables U.S. military members to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree with no out-of-pocket tuition or book costs.