On July 1, one of the more unusual names in higher education — University of Maryland University College (UMUC) — will change to University of Maryland Global Campus.
The new name, and the history behind it, tells a story that is unique in Maryland higher education and has important ramifications for adult students everywhere who have jobs, families or military responsibilities.
UMUC has been a global institution for 70 years, first sending faculty to teach U.S. troops stationed in postwar Europe in 1949 and from there around the world. The university began in 1947 as a unit within the College of Education at the University of Maryland in College Park, and its mission was to serve adult students for whom an education, delivered on a traditional campus, was impractical or impossible. Many of our first students were Marylanders returning to civilian life after serving in World War II; others were active duty military personnel serving at the Pentagon.
The name University College — adopted in 1959 — was borrowed from British usage to describe a college that carries all of a university’s courses and programs beyond the institution’s walls and outside typical class times. It became a separate and independent state university in 1970, incorporated as University of Maryland University College.
Today, our mission remains unchanged. Our faculty — many of whom are scholar-practitioners who work in the fields in which they teach — lead classes at education centers across Maryland and on military installations in 20 countries.
A tradition of innovation is as much a part of our DNA as is service to adult students in the workforce and the military, and we leverage technology to improve efficiency and further expand our reach. We have offered instruction by radio and closed-circuit television — in the 1980s, we even experimented with offering classes via voicemail — and in the 1990s, we were among the first to offer entire academic programs via the World Wide Web.
As Maryland’s only open-access, four-year public university, the technology revolution has allowed us to dramatically increase our reach. Because we do not have the expenses associated with a traditional brick-and-mortar campus, we are able to scale up to accommodate large numbers of students, all while offering the second lowest tuition and fees among four-year universities in the state.
A few years ago, we took another historic step, replacing costly publisher textbooks with open educational resources (OERs), accessible online, at no cost to students, saving them millions of dollars each year.
Our size, scalable model and global reach are key to our ability to pursue these innovative changes while also keeping tuition low.
Now, as competition continues to increase in the adult higher education market, we are leveraging the reputation we have built over more than 70 years in Maryland and on military bases around the world, and we are moving to expand nationally from a position of strength.
There are millions of people across the country who have earned college credit without completing a degree. Often, they find that a four-year degree can help them establish a career, switch to a career field with more potential for growth, or earn a promotion.
Cost should not be the obstacle that holds them back.
In 2014, UMUC created the Maryland Completion Scholarship, which allows any graduate of a community college in Maryland to earn a bachelor’s degree for $20,000 or less — including the cost of the associate degree. We have already awarded more than 7,000 of these scholarships, and nearly 1,700 recipients have graduated.
Now, as we reach out to new and prospective students, the name University of Maryland Global Campus communicates more clearly our status as a respected state institution and our global footprint.
Generations of Marylanders and military service members have taken advantage of a quality, affordable and accessible education from University of Maryland University College. As University of Maryland Global Campus, we will continue this tradition and look to expand our brand to even more people around the country.
Javier Miyares is president of University of Maryland University College. He can be reached at email@example.com.