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History & Timeline

Read about UMGC's milestones.

The founding mission of University of Maryland Global Campus was to serve students for whom the College Park campus was not a viable option, including veterans returning from World War II. These students were different from the typical college students on America's campuses. They were older, often juggling family and work commitments that necessitated more flexible class schedules and more convenient locations.

A Proud Military Heritage

UMGC took the lead in accommodating and educating adult students, not only at College Park, but all over Maryland. Then, in 1949, at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, UMGC became the first institution to send a team overseas to teach college classes to active-duty servicemembers. From a single classroom on a military base in postwar Germany, the program quickly expanded across Europe and Asia, sending faculty wherever they were needed—even into war zones—and making UMGC a leading higher education provider to the U.S. military, veterans, and their dependents around the world.

A Trailblazer in Distance Learning

In the 1990s, UMGC began to transform higher education by becoming among the first universities to offer bachelor's degree programs entirely online. By combining a structure demanded by the nontraditional student with the reach of available technology, UMGC made it possible for busy working professionals, single parents, servicemembers on deployment, military dependents, and tens of thousands of other students from all over the world to pursue their educational goals.

Leading the Next Generation of Higher Education

UMGC's numerous awards for outstanding achievements in distance learning demonstrate how successfully we've leveraged the potential of the internet to create the university of the future. Today, UMGC is a global leader in online education and endeavors to live up to its promise by continuing to explore innovative ways to expand educational opportunities for first-time learners and lifetime learners alike—anywhere in the world.

Changing Our Name

Effective July 1, 2019, UMUC's name officially changed to University of Maryland Global Campus. This name change has no effect on our status as a respected state university and member of the University System of Maryland.

"The name University of Maryland Global Campus affirms both our roots as a respected public institution in the state of Maryland and our global footprint," UMGC President Javier Miyares said.

Our global tradition began in 1949 when we became the first university to send professors overseas to teach active-duty servicemembers stationed in Europe. Today, we continue that tradition with classes offered online and in more than 20 countries and territories around the world.


Beyond the Ivory Tower

Authored by Sharon Hudgins, Beyond the Ivory Tower provides a deep and detailed look at the history of University of Maryland University College from 1947 through 2007, before it became known as University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). This commemorative history of the university is both exciting and significant. It covers the social trends and events that shaped the United States and U.S. higher education in the aftermath of World War II. As higher education surged forward in importance, UMGC was shaped by that surge and has been fundamentally defined by it. Few, if any, universities are as closely identified with the students they serve as UMGC is, with an unwavering commitment to serve adult learners and the military around the globe. UMGC has been—and continues to be—an extraordinarily innovative institution, committed to the core traditions of the academy without being hobbled by institutional stasis or timidity. Beyond the Ivory Tower is dedicated to all in the UMGC community who have contributed to making this university what it is today.




UMGC begins providing education to adult students and military veterans around the world.

1947: UMGC's precursor, the College of Special and Continuation Studies, known as CSCS, is established to coordinate the expanding off-campus offerings. The Pentagon exceeds its capacity to accommodate the number of officers who wish to register. Registration lines begin forming at increasingly early hours; some determined registrants even camp overnight in the Pentagon concourse.

1949: At the behest of an enthusiastic and determined Pentagon student, Col. William C. Bentley, the U.S. Air Force Command issues a proposal for off-campus programs overseas. When only two universities apply, University of Maryland is chosen for Europe; University of California, for the Pacific.

1949: In August, the first CSCS Dean, George J. Kabat, travels to Europe to confer with military leaders and visit potential sites.

1949: Convinced of the viability of a European program, Dean George Kabat locates seven faculty members who, with one week's notice, board a plane on October 2 to teach at six sites in war-torn Germany—Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Nürnberg, and Heidelberg.


Guided by Ray Ehrensberger, UMGC rapidly expands its programs and locations in Maryland, Europe, and Asia.

1950: Ray Ehrensberger arrives in Germany in February as the first European Director of a rapidly expanding program.

1950: Thanks to the persistence of Claire Swan, a recent high school graduate whose father is the Community Commander of McGraw Kaserne, Maryland opens its "Munich Branch" (later known as the Munich Campus) in October. It allows military dependents to begin their college education without returning to the United States and remains a major part of the university's program until it closes in 2005.

1951: In April, at a special Convocation in Bonn, Germany, University of Maryland President H. C. Byrd confers honorary degrees on Konrad Adenauer and Theodor Heuss, Germany's first postwar chancellor and president, respectively; the rectors of the Free University of Berlin and the University of Bonn; and the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.

1951: In May, the first bachelor's degree in Europe is awarded to Air Force Colonel William C. Bentley, who started his studies at the Pentagon.

1952: Ray Ehrensberger is appointed dean of the CSCS and quickly earns the designation "The Flying Dean" as he circles the globe overseeing the existing programs and continually sizing up new opportunities.

1953: An Atlantic Division is added with classes in Bermuda, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Labrador, and the Azores. The European Division expands not only to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the Netherlands, but also to non-European countries like Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

1953: In Maryland, courses expand to Baltimore, Bethesda, Hancock, Hagerstown, Salisbury, and Silver Spring, as well as to the Maryland State Penitentiary. Chinese language courses are offered at the Pentagon, along with graduate programs for scientists and technicians at the Patuxent Naval Air Test Center.

1956: Following the withdrawal of the University of California's program in Asia, Maryland takes over and offers courses for troops at 42 education centers in Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea, launching the Far East Division with headquarters in Tokyo. Among its early innovations is the creation of the Far East Network, which broadcasts interviews of visiting Americans, including playwright Tennessee Williams and author James Michener.

1957: The first two graduates in the Far East Division are both Army officers, Lt. Col. John M. Cole and Capt. Henry Richarde.

1959: Dean Ray Ehrensberger convinces the University of Maryland Board of Regents to change the college's name to University College, a term borrowed from British usage to describe an institution that offers courses and programs to all students regardless of gender, social class, or religion.


University College changes its requirements for overseas faculty as it extends its programs into a war zone for the first time.

1960: University College enters the decade offering courses at 275 military and civilian sites around the world, including 70 in the United States, 137 in Europe, six in Africa, five in the Middle East, 48 in the Far East, and nine in the Atlantic Division, from the Arctic Circle to the Azores.

1963: The first classes are held in Saigon as the university extends into a war zone in Vietnam. By the 1969–70 academic year, enrollments in Vietnam reach 11,000 at 24 military installations. To be accepted as an overseas faculty member, every new professor has to agree to teach in Vietnam. In 1968, Joe Arden becomes the first full-time faculty member assigned to Vietnam.

1964: University College opens its new Center of Adult Education in Adelphi, Maryland, designed both to house the administrative offices of University College and to accommodate its rapidly expanding schedule of conferences and institutes.

1966: French Prime Minister Charles DeGaulle withdraws from the military party of NATO, effectively closing more than 30 locations where Maryland classes are held and forcing staff to relocate to bases in other countries. Base openings and closing—mostly in response to international events—became commonplace, although none are as extensive as the French move.


The University of Maryland undergoes reorganization and UMUC becomes a separate institution, reaching a new continent and naming its first chancellor.

1970: The University of Maryland is reorganized, and University College becomes University of Maryland University College, one of five separately accredited institutions. Ray Ehrensberger is appointed as its first chancellor.

1975: As North Vietnamese troops close in on Saigon, the number of university students dwindles to a handful. Robert Schoos holds his last class on April 27 as mortar fire rattles the windows. On April 30, Schoos hears Far East Network Radio play Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," the secret code that signals the start of the final pull-out. Schoos makes his way to the American Embassy in time to be airlifted out by helicopter.

1975: Ray Ehrensberger retires as chancellor, ending his influential 38-year career, and his colleague, Stanley J. Drazek, takes over as chancellor.

1977: As the Far East Division reorganizes following the end of the Vietnam War, it expands to Australia, adding a fifth continent to the UMGC empire.

1978: Stanley Drazek steps down and T. Benjamin Massey, a seasoned overseas administrator since 1960, becomes UMUC's third chancellor.

1979: The Far East Division adds graduate-level coursework to its curriculum, and by the end of the 1979–80 academic year, almost 150 master's degrees in counseling are awarded on Okinawa.


Expansion continues in the Asian and European Divisions, reaching students in 17 countries.

1980s: The Far East Division expands to Subic Bay and Cubi Point in the Philippines and to the remote Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, accessible only by military aircraft. It reopens courses in Guam and expands into such remote spots in the Australian outback as Woomera and Alice Springs and to remote atolls in the Marshall Islands.

1980s: With the military build-up during the Reagan administration, the European Division sees growing enrollments and increases in the number of countries where courses are offered. Total course enrollments reach 130,000 by the end of the decade, up from 80,000 at its beginning. During the decade, faculty teach at more than 260 locations in 17 countries as far flung as Moscow, Cairo, and Bahrain.

1982: The Far East Division is renamed the Asian Division as Far East comes to be viewed as an outmoded term that defines Asia strictly from a Western perspective.

1982: U.S. Army Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., a 1963 UMGC graduate, is named 10th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Ronald Reagan. It is the rarest of honors for one who began his career as an enlisted man.

1986: The Asian Division exceeds the peak enrollments it had reached during the Vietnam War and continues to grow, providing education to American military personnel scattered over 10 million square miles of Asia and the Pacific.

1987: For the first time, UMUC allows Japanese nationals to enroll in courses, initially in Okinawa and later on the main island of Honshu.

1989: The Berlin Wall falls, and with the end of the Cold War, the university's enrollments in Europe begin to decline. As U.S. bases close and troops are withdrawn, enrollments drop from a high of 130,000 in 1989–90 to 79,000 in 1996–97.


UMUC becomes a pioneer in online education and expands programs to reach students around the globe.

1991: UMUC pioneers business management instruction in Russia by opening two programs at Russian universities: Irkutsk State University, the oldest institution of higher education in Eastern Siberia; and Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok.

1991: The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines causes widespread destruction on U.S. military bases, leading to abrupt evacuations of military personnel. Bases are closed permanently under pressure from the Philippine government and the U.S. military transfers personnel to Singapore and Guam.

1992: Guam is hit by five typhoons and an earthquake in one year, but classes continue to meet, sometimes lit by flashlight.

1992: The overseas graduating class is the largest in the history of the European Division as military personnel rush to complete programs and upgrade their skills before they are withdrawn from Europe and separated from the military.

1992: At the invitation of the mayor of Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, UMGC establishes an international four-year residential campus for traditional-age students in the vacant Kaserne that had housed U.S. Pershing missiles. The campus operates for 10 years.

1993: The university officially launches its "virtual university," offering students across the United States the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree by computer conferencing and e-mail. At the same time, distance education courses are offered by computer for the first time in the Asian Division, tailored to military students whose assignments do not allow them to enroll in regular classes.

1994: The university begins offering undergraduate classes via computer, with course material supplied to students on diskettes.

1994: Distance education expands UMUC's reach to Antarctica when Ensign Ron Parks, of the Naval Support Force at McMurdo Station, enrolls.

1994: At the request of the U.S. embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, the university opens its first South American program, enrolling 40 students.

1996: As U.S. troops are stationed in war zones and UMUC opens programs in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, and later in Iraq and Afghanistan, European Division faculty learn a new military expression: "downrange." Faculty live on base with the soldiers and are not allowed to venture off base.

1997: The university offers its first web-based courses, and other forms of distance learning are phased out. The IT department develops WebTycho as its electronic teaching platform. Growth of online courses is so rapid that, within a decade, 80 percent of all stateside undergraduate enrollments are for online classes. Because of online learning, the university's total headcount grows by 15,000 in the next decade, effectively reversing the post–Cold War decline.

1998: T. Benjamin Massey retires and Gerald Heeger — a dean at New York University—accepts the presidency the following year.


UMUC introduces new services in Maryland, including at its Dorsey Station location and the Academic Center at Largo.

2004: The university adds a 100,000-square-foot addition to its Inn and Conference Center in Adelphi, more than doubling the number of guest rooms and making it the 12th largest conference space in the Washington, D.C., metro area—and one of the first LEED-certified "green" conference centers in the country.

2006: The university opens its Dorsey Station Center near Baltimore to be a major stand-alone satellite location in Maryland.

2006: Gerald Heeger steps down and Susan Aldridge becomes the first woman to serve as president of UMUC.

2009: The university opens its Academic Center at Largo by renovating what was once the corporate headquarters of the Hechinger Company. The new center becomes the 232,000-square-foot home for all of the university's academic units with classrooms, offices, an auditorium, and a cafeteria. The U.S. Green Building Council cites it for innovation, design, and water efficiency.


UMUC is recognized as a leader in cyber education, introduces no-cost digital resources in place of textbooks, and changes its name to University of Maryland Global Campus.

2010: Building on its established reputation as a leader in information assurance education, the university launches some of the nation's first online bachelor's and master's degree programs in cybersecurity.

2012: Javier Miyares is appointed UMUC president following Susan Aldridge's resignation.

2013: The university closes its Heidelberg offices and moves to the Ramstein area, where the largest concentration of remaining U.S. troops are located. Among the last graduating class in Heidelberg was Lauren Bentley, the great granddaughter of the university's first graduate there.

2014: President Miyares announces a new business model for UMUC that gives it more flexibility in competing with other online universities, allowing it to be more entrepreneurial in finding new revenue streams.

2014: The UMUC Cyber Competition team wins the Global CyberLympics in Barcelona, Spain.

2015: The university spins off its Office of Analytics into HelioCampus, a for-profit company offering business intelligence products and services to universities nationwide. The company's profits will help support scholarships for UMGC students.

2016: UMUC becomes the first major university to replace textbooks with no-cost digital resources in all undergraduate classes. The move saves students an estimated $17 million in the first year alone.

2017: UMUC celebrates its 70th anniversary and is given a proclamation from the governor or Maryland officially proclaiming May 13, 2017 as a special day to honor the university and its many achievements.

2019: Effective July 1, 2019, the university changes its name to University of Maryland Global Campus to better reflect its expanding global presence and ongoing mission of serving working adults and military-affiliated students around the world.

More Information

For a deeper dive into UMGC's unique history, please access the University Archives.

At UMGC, not only do I have the backing of a state university that is very accomplished and respected in the world, but also, through the process of earning my degrees, I learned that what I had invested in learning on my own was valuable and important and relevant.

Velma H., MBA, Phoenix, AZ BS in Human Resource Management


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