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Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and several members of his staff took a walking tour of University of Maryland University College's Academic Center at Largo on January 22, engaging with students, faculty, and staff along the way.

Rushern Baker Visit to LargoBaker's visit was an opportunity for UMUC to highlight its increasingly important role in Prince George's County and to show off its LEED-certified Academic Center, which not only houses administrative and faculty offices but also features one of the largest collections of work by Maryland artists in the state of Maryland.

The county executive met with a UMUC cybersecurity student who was a member of the Cyber Padawans, the university's extremely successful cyber competition team. In 2014, UMUC won the Global CyberLympics, held in Barcelona, Spain, and the Maryland Cyber Challenge.

Although it was Baker's first visit to the Largo facility, he is no stranger to the university. Baker was the commencement speaker at UMUC's graduation ceremony in Okinawa, Japan, where he spent time growing up in a military family.

A highlight of the tour for Baker was meeting with two veteran students in the university's new Student Veterans Lounge. A grand opening for the lounge had been held just two days before Baker's visit to showcase the dedicated space for veterans and to officially launch UMUC's virtual Veterans Resource Center.

Nearly 4,000 UMUC students who are military veterans live in the Washington, D.C., region. Prince George's County dominates the student body overall. In fact, the county represents UMUC's largest base of student enrollments, with more than 15 percent of the total student body calling Prince George's County home.

Further evidence of UMUC's strong ties to the county is in its relationship with Prince George's Community College (PGCC). In the last five years, PGCC has ranked in the top three of all the alliance community colleges with the most students transferring to UMUC.

Baker also learned about UMUC's corporate partnerships in the county that serve to increase the education level for employees at companies such as ManTech, Raytheon, and MedStar Southern Hospital Center.

UMUC itself employs 489 Prince George's County residents out of a total of 1,605 stateside staff. That number jumps to 902 county residents if adjunct faculty are included in the total. The university created 150 new positions in the county when its Service Center moved from Pennsylvania to Largo in 2012.

At the tour's completion, Baker held a roundtable discussion with UMUC President Javier Miyares and Provost Marie Cini and learned of UMUC's ongoing efforts to develop innovative academic programs and models that are putting UMUC in the forefront of higher education in the United States.

Cini described UMUC's work in developing competency-based academic programs that have the potential to speed up the time it takes to earn a degree. UMUC was one of a small group of schools to be named by the U.S. Department of Education as an "experimental site" in order to test competency-based education models.

Because of UMUC's roles as an educational institution and an economic driver, Baker and President Miyares believe the synergies between UMUC and Prince George's County will only continue to grow in the future.