Article by Gil Klein
Illustrations by Jason Seiler

Since 1947, six chancellors or presidents have led UMUC or its predecessor, the College of Special and Continuation Studies. Each has helped shape the university in different ways. Here are their stories.

The program that would eventually grow to become University of Maryland University College—one of the largest public universities in the United States—began in the summer of 1947 as part of the University of Maryland (now University of Maryland, College Park).

With military veterans flocking to the university after World War II under the GI Bill, University of Maryland President H. C. "Curley" Byrd began establishing off-campus programs to serve nontraditional students who, because they were working and raising families, could not live or attend classes full time in College Park.

The new operation began as a program within the College of Education, with George G. Kabat serving as director. As it grew, it was soon renamed the College of Special and Continuation Studies, effectively separate from the College of Education, and Kabat was promoted to serve as dean. The new college offered classes in Baltimore, at business and industry sites, at military bases in Maryland and the Pentagon, and in communities around the state, including Cambridge, Cumberland, Hagerstown, Salisbury, and Westminster.

Described by his colleagues as "high energy, a dynamo," Kabat in mid-August 1949 traveled to Germany for 16 days at the invitation of the Defense Department to assess the possibility of establishing an overseas Maryland program. With just a few weeks of lead time, he managed to launch the program that fall. The eight-week term was first introduced to accommodate the large numbers of troops transferring in and out of Europe.

By the time Kabat stepped down in 1950, many of the fundamental constants that would guide UMUC—a commitment to providing educational opportunities for nontraditional students and to educating U.S. military personnel overseas—were already in place. 

Joseph Ray replaced Kabat as dean and led the program for another two years, successfully advocating for changes in the military science program offered overseas, which had previously been available only to commissioned officers. By broadening the program to accommodate noncommissioned officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians, the stage was set for some of the college's most dynamic growth—and the rise of one of its most dynamic leaders, William Raymond "Ray" Ehrensberger.

Serving as its first chancellor, Ehrensberger shaped UMUC geographically and philosophically, oversaw its national and international growth, and guided its transformation into an institution independent from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

The biographical sketches that follow tell the stories of five men and one woman who have served UMUC as chancellor or president throughout its 70-year history.

William Raymond 1952–1975
William Raymond "Ray" Ehrensberger

Find out why he was called "The Flying Dean." Read more

Stanley Drazek1975–1978
Stanley Drazek

Learn why Drazek was credited as "one of the college's main workhorses." Read more

T. Benjamin Massey1978–1998
T. Benjamin Massey

Discover Massey's proudest achievement. Read more

Gerald Heeger1999–2005
Gerald Heeger

Learn how Heeger expanded distance education around the world. Read more

Susan C. Aldridge2006–2012
Susan C. Aldridge

Learn about UMUC's first woman president. Read more

Javier Miyares2012–Present
Javier Miyares

Discover how Miyares is keeping UMUC at the forefront of innovation. Read more

UMUC LeadersThe portraits above are from the original artwork by Jason Seiler.

This article appeared under the title The Lives of Leaders in the Spring 2017 edition of Achiever magazine.