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ADELPHI, Md. (Oct. 5, 2016)--At a gathering of technology innovators and emerging leaders in higher education, University of Maryland University College was recognized for its trailblazing Master of Science in Data Analytics program (MSDA), while its president, Javier Miyares, was honored for distinguished achievement.

“As president of UMUC—an institution that has long embraced technology and nontraditional modes of delivery as critical to its mission of serving adults in the workforce—it makes this honor even more meaningful,” said Miyares, who received the award from The National University Technology Network (NUTN) at its annual conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, on September 28-29.

The NUTN Network is a consortium of higher education institutions and provides a networking and professional development arena for the advancement of teaching and learning.

UMUC’s MSDA program received a 2016 Distance Education Innovation “Finalist” Award. In addition, John Cook, a UMUC student in the data analytics program received the 2016 Student Achievement Award.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” said Cook.  “I didn’t consider myself a good student prior to graduate school, so this is validation that finding the right focus area and working hard can achieve extraordinary results. I had some great professors and the courses were structured to help us learn by doing.”

The Master of Science in Data Analytics program at UMUC prepares students for the demanding career of a data professional.  The program provides opportunities for hands-on experience with a variety of analytical tools and covers data mining, predictive modeling, and visual analytics using large data sets. A key focus is helping students gain skills that can be applied directly on the job.

“Winning a Distance Education Innovation Award from The NUTN Network is a real thrill,” said Elena Gorcheva, the MSDA program director. “The award encourages all of us associated with the program to continue to find even more innovative ways to make MSDA relevant to our students and the community, and to meet industry expectations.”

In addition to receiving his distinguished achievement award, Miyares delivered one of three keynote addresses at the conference.  He highlighted UMUC’s success in using data analytics to not only improve operational efficiencies and student success, but also to dramatically change the university’s culture so that data is employed to inform decision making at all levels.

“Though we are ahead of many in using analytics to guide our institutional decision-making, I will say with absolute candor that we are only getting started,” Miyares said. “As we and others become more sophisticated at collecting and interpreting data … the horizon becomes increasingly broad.

“At UMUC, we are so confident of the central and critical role that analytics will play in higher education that, in 2015, we took a bold step as an institution and spun off our data analytics unit into a private company—HelioCampus,” Miyares continued.  The new company “now offers our data analytics technology and expertise for a fee to other institutions of higher education and returns profits to the institution, further reducing the cost of a UMUC education.

“This represents a departure from the traditional world of academe, but bear in mind that the traditional world of academe has long excluded portions of our population who most needed the opportunities it can provide.”