Public Television Documentary Chronicling UMUC’s 70 Year History of Service to U.S. Military Overseas Wins Gold Award for Scriptwriting and Bronze for Nonfiction DocumentaryIn one of the more poignant moments of the public television documentary “Over There: The Adventures of Maryland’s Traveling Faculty,” Professor Bruce Janoff choked back tears describing a time in 1973 in Vietnam when one of his students did not show up for class. It turned out the soldier had been killed during a mission the day before.
Heartbreaking stories like this were part of the intense experience that many University of Maryland University College faculty members had while teaching—in war zones and in other far-flung locations around the globe—and while seeing the world and living adventures over the past 70 years that were unique in American higher education.
Their many fascinating anecdotes were woven into a compelling half-hour film that recently garnered “Over There” two 2018 Television Internet & Video Association (TIVA) Peer Awards: the Gold Award for scriptwriting and the Bronze Award for non-fiction documentary.
“It’s not often as a filmmaker that you come upon a story you have never heard about. But this was that story,” said Lauren Cardillo, the documentary’s producer. “It was such an honor to do this film and put a deserving spotlight on a group of people that were totally dedicated to the university’s historic mission of teaching our servicemen and women in some of the most challenging conditions you can imagine.”
The project spanned four years and yielded more than 40 hours of interviews. In fact, one of the biggest challenges Cardillo faced was deciding how many of those interviews to highlight in the film. The first cut was over an hour long, said Cardillo in an interview in UMUC’s Achiever Magazine, far from the goal of 26 minutes. “We were going to either have snippets of every story or longer pieces of five or six stories,” Cardillo added. They opted for the latter.
The making of the film began in October 2013 at a reunion in Adelphi, Maryland, of the Overseas Marylanders Association (OMA), a group of current and former faculty and staff from UMUC’s overseas divisions. In October 2016, at another reunion—this one in Heidelberg, Germany—Cardillo and UMUC Assistant Vice President for Media Relations Bob Ludwig, traveled overseas to continue documenting the stories these former faculty had to tell. Additional interviews were conducted in Michigan and California.
“Over There” premiered in a special screening at UMUC on Jan. 30, 2018 and has aired twice on Maryland Public Television. The program remains available for viewing on the MPT website.
The documentary is a “tale of a great adventure, and it is so much more than that—a story of innovation and change, of vision and courage, of service and sacrifice by those who lived it,” said UMUC President Javier Miyares at the premiere at UMUC. “Perhaps most of all, it is a call to action, a reminder to all of the role of higher education and how a willingness to learn and grow can change lives—and change the world in positive and lasting ways.”
“This was a four-year labor of love and a consummate team effort,” said Michael Freedman, UMUC senior vice president and executive producer of the project. “We were extremely fortunate to get Lauren [to be the producer for the film].
“She is a pro who has been widely recognized for her outstanding talents in documentary filmmaking. Now, she will also be recognized for her efforts here! Anyone who sees the documentary will never think of UMUC in the same way again.”
University of Maryland University College was founded more than 70 years ago specifically to serve the higher education needs of working adults and military service members. UMUC was the first university to answer the call from the military after World War II to send faculty to teach troops in occupied Germany in 1949. After expanding to other bases in Europe, UMUC brought its “academic foreign legion” to Asia beginning in 1956, and the Middle East in 2005.
Today, UMUC continues that tradition online, on site and on the road. The university offers more than 90 degrees, certificates, and specializations backed by the reputation of a state university and the University System of Maryland. For more information, visit umuc.edu.
About the Cover Photo: Producer Lauren Cardillo (left), with former UMUC faculty member and documentary contributor Nancy Derr, at the UMUC premiere of "Over there," Jan. 30, 2018.