The University System of Maryland Board of Regents today approved a University of Maryland University College (UMUC) plan to spin off its Office of Analytics into a new company, HelioCampus, that will provide business intelligence products and services to universities nationwide.
The university has committed to using profits generated by HelioCampus to support scholarship programs that would reduce and perhaps ultimately eliminate tuition costs for graduates of Maryland community colleges who seek to earn their bachelor's degrees at UMUC.
"For decades, UMUC has been an innovator in making education accessible for people in Maryland and beyond," Governor Larry Hogan said. "We are excited and proud to see their commitment to using this venture's profits to reduce tuition, make education even more accessible, and, ultimately, make Maryland a better place to live and learn. This is exactly the type of innovation my administration is looking for."
"UMUC is again trailblazing a new path for higher education, not only in Maryland, but across the nation," said Robert L. Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "HelioCampus fills an important niche as institutions of higher education seek cost-effective ways to utilize ‘big data' without adding infrastructure and staff. I commend UMUC President Javier Miyares and his team for their efforts."
Born out of the success of UMUC's recent turnaround, necessitated by unprecedented enrollment volatility, the venture seeks to monetize analytics capabilities developed by the university. UMUC has changed its culture to rely on data to guide decision-making and actions at all operational levels of the university.
UMUC will transition its analytics team and technology to HelioCampus and provide seed funding to support the venture's first five years of operation.
"This is an exciting and innovative venture for UMUC and the State of Maryland," said James L. Shea, chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. "The leadership of UMUC had the foresight to build the platform and the expertise that transformed its operations and its ability to focus more efficiently and effectively on academic quality and student success, and we applaud them for that."
The new company will provide a foundational analytics platform and data analysis services. This comprehensive offering will include all the tools needed to support or jumpstart an analytics program. HelioCampus will host a secure platform in the cloud that will include flexible data models and best-in-class visual analytics to accelerate analysis.
The technology will be complemented by a team of higher-education and business-intelligence experts. Each institution will be assigned a dedicated analyst that will partner with key stakeholders to interpret the data and highlight key trends.
The implementation of HelioCampus's subscription-based service will involve a level of customization for each institution. Further, power users will be given direct access to the underlying data sets and tools to create additional dashboards and conduct ad-hoc analyses.
"This venture is totally consistent with UMUC's new business model, which fosters a culture of agility and innovation in carrying out the university's mission," said Mark Gerencser, chair of UMUC's Board of Visitors. "Introducing new revenue streams that allow the university to further invest in student success and wider access to a UMUC education is laudable."
Three years ago, UMUC faced acute budget challenges fueled by declining enrollments caused, in part, by the downsizing of the military (about half of UMUC's enrollments are active-duty military and their dependents overseas), the impact on the regional economy as a result of federal sequestration, and increased competition from both for-profit and public universities across the country.
At that critical juncture, UMUC invested in an analytics infrastructure as a way to operate more efficiently, keep tuition low, and maintain high-quality academic programs. In fact, UMUC has the second-lowest tuition among all public universities in Maryland. It also boasts growing workforce-relevant academic programs in areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare, biotechnology, and business.
"I am immensely gratified that the USM Board of Regents has authorized us to move forward with this exciting, innovative venture," said Javier Miyares, UMUC's president. "I am also very proud of Senior Vice President for Analytics, Planning, and Technology Pete Young and his talented team who developed this capability from the ground up. Using analytics, we were able to transform our own strategic thinking," Miyares added. "The success of this venture will be a win-win for UMUC and the citizens of Maryland."
"This is an exciting opportunity to provide a world class analytics capability to other institutions for a fraction of the cost and time needed to develop it themselves," said Pete Young. "Our team, led by Vice President Darren Catalano, has developed a highly disruptive, scalable, and comprehensive platform that coupled with expert analysis turns your data into actionable information."
"For decades, UMUC has led the world—not just our state or nation—in college innovation focused on working people," said Maryland State Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-College Park), chair of the legislature's Joint Technology Committee and a former USM Regent. "From American troops deployed in harm's way to working mothers studying online while their children sleep, UMUC's students in Maryland and around the world have received accessible, affordable high quality instruction. And our state has gotten the economic and branding value of sponsoring an export and innovation champion. Today's announcement reflects our commitment to double down on UMUC's special role."
About University of Maryland University CollegeUMUC was recently named 2015 "Global Educator of the Year" by the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C., for its role as a leader in innovative education models. It is also currently ranked as the #1 "Best For Vets" college by Military Times, and has received the prestigious 2015 President's Award from the Open Education Consortium for its plan to replace publisher textbooks with embedded digital resources in all classes by fall 2016. In addition, UMUC's cyber competition teams have won 10 titles in the past four years, including the 2014 Global CyberLympics in Barcelona Spain and the first-ever Cyber DiploHack, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMUC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality education that is accessible and affordable. UMUC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of adult students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service.
For more information about HelioCampus, please go to heliocampus.com.