Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer once said that "the sun never sets on the University of Maryland." He was referring to the University of Maryland University College, which offers bachelor's and master's degrees not only in Maryland and many locations throughout the United States but in 28 countries around the world as well.
Since 1949, most University College programs have been at U.S. Department of Defense bases or diplomatic missions. In 1991, however, the University College broke new ground and initiated joint degree programs with Irkutsk State University and Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok. It now has seven American faculty members in Siberia. Their goal is to train Russians in business skills, particularly management.
Some 300 students are now involved in those bilingual programs, all sponsored by Russian enterprises. They follow a Russian academic program for the first two years and then shift to the American portion of the program. The fifth year is for practical training.
"We are unique," says University College Vice President Julian S. Jones. "Although there is lots of talk, there is no other American university that is on the ground, receiving undergraduates in Russia. No state funds are involved."
The University College and its Siberian partners have ambitious plans.
In a few years, they hope to have about 2,000 business students in the Irkutsk and Vladivostok programs. To obtain that goal, scholarships and textbooks are needed. Because business studies are a new field in Russia, the universities also need to build basic libraries.
The University College is not the only Maryland institution of higher learning active in Russia.
In the past five years, Towson State has built close contacts with the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Towson is also helping the St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University set up a public relations department. "We have a moral obligation to help those people," says Helen Breazeale, an associate dean at Towson. "If we don't do it, who will?"