Adelhi, Md. (July 27, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has promoted Kristophyre McCall to the newly established role of chief transformation officer.
In this new position, McCall will oversee innovation, enterprise program management (ePMO), and information security, and will serve on the university’s executive committee. McCall will also be responsible for driving forward critical business and technology processes, products, and programs that will support the university’s academic and administrative priorities.
“Kris has been successful in optimizing key processes and operations that have strengthened our services for learners worldwide,” said Nicholas Eremita, UMGC chief of staff and senior vice president for strategy. “He has led a variety of other initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness in service to our students, and we look forward to his vision and leadership in this new role.”
McCall came to UMGC in 2018 as vice president for academic operations and led his teams to record-setting performance, even in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic. He has worked across Academic Affairs and with other institutional partners to develop the Straightline Paths for UMGC’s undergraduate programs based on real-world student data and behavior and extended the university’s capacity to expand and optimize student transfer pathways.
“I am excited to take on these new responsibilities and this new position,” said McCall. “Our education offerings and the way we operate are destined to change as time passes, and it is imperative that we prepare for the future of education. Our goal is to establish a level of agility that allows us to continuously improve upon our vison, strategy, operations and culture, even as we position ourselves to seize new opportunities in an ever-changing educational landscape.”
McCall has spent his career developing new and innovative ways for educational organizations to adapt and transform the way they handle operations while focusing on great student experiences and outcomes. Prior to UMGC, he served in senior leadership positions in university operations for Pearson Online Learning Services, Western International University and American Intercontinental University.
From 2003 to 2008, McCall was vice president of operations and student management at Career Education Corp., where he was a member of the Group President’s executive management team and led the daily operations of the student management process across three institutions in the group.
McCall holds a BS in Economics from Northern Illinois University and a MSM in Business Management and MSM in Project Management from Colorado Technical University.
Adelphi, Md. (July 14, 2021)–University of Maryland Global Campus has announced that Martina Hansen has been promoted to senior vice president and chief student affairs officer.
In this role, Hansen will lead the university’s new Student Affairs division—recently created to consolidate key academic and administrative student support functions across the university—focusing on increasing persistence, retention, and the institution’s various measures of student success. She will oversee enrollment management, regional center operations, academic support and new student experience functions, tutoring, the Effective Writing Center, library services, student resolution, student communications, retention and engagement initiatives, career services, and virtual lab support for students.
“Martina Hansen has a track record of building and leading student-centric teams that create positive experiences for our learners, as well as a passion and enthusiasm for serving our students,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “I look forward to her vision and leadership in this new role. I am also confident that our new structure will position us to be more focused and effective in supporting our students and to more deliberately reflect our value of ‘Students First.’”
Hansen joined UMGC in August 2018, initially serving as vice president of student retention and later as vice president of student affairs. She has led the design, implementation, and improvement of programs to continuously enhance academic student services and student success.
“UMGC has made great strides over the past year in enhancing services and support available to our students,” said Hansen. “I look forward to building on that to ensure the best experiences and outcomes for our diverse learners by maintaining focus on what our learners need to succeed and ensuring that they have the right support throughout their journey, along with the confidence to achieve.”
Hansen came to UMGC with more than 18 years of experience in enrollment management and operations. Previously, she served as vice president of operations at Delta Career Education Corporation. In that role, she was responsible for centralized operations, information technology, PMO, application development, training and development, and procurement. Simultaneously, she served as a regional vice president of campus operations, with profit and loss responsibility for 17 of Delta’s campuses. At Delta, Hansen carried out several strategic operational transformations, migrated the organization to a new academic model, and led enterprise technology integrations.
Before that, Hansen served as vice president of continuous improvement at Career Education Corporation, where she implemented strategies to improve student success and persistence, served as a liaison between departments, and worked to ensure the effectiveness of new growth and student experience initiatives.
Hansen holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and communications from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a master’s degree in technology management from Georgetown University.
New Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) Helps UMGC Students Progress on Career Pathways
Adelphi, Md. (June 9, 2021)–Parchment, the industry leader in academic credentials management, and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the largest online public university in the country, announced today that UMGC has launched a pilot program to develop and issue Comprehensive Learner Records (CLRs).
CLRs are official academic records and expand the information and insights a college or university certifies about a learner’s educational experience, both inside and out of the classroom. Using Parchment Award – CLR Services, UMGC can capture more specific evidence of a student’s learning—as well as a more holistic representation of a learners’ education—in ways traditional transcripts were not designed to do.
“UMGC is committed to helping students articulate to employers the specific knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions they develop through their programs and how they can contribute to employers’ needs,” said Blakely Pomietto, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer. “This Comprehensive Learner Record pilot is an innovative and dynamic example of how we are putting students first and continually committed to developing new ways to fulfill our mission.”
The value of what the CLR articulates was validated in a recent AAC&U (American Association of Colleges & Universities) report where the majority of employers surveyed viewed skills, including teamwork, critical thinking, data analysis and interpretation, applying learning in real-world settings, and digital literacy, as important. In general, responses show that employers think a college education should provide both breadth and depth of learning and prepare future employees to think for themselves, adapt to problems, and have the technical knowledge necessary for their new roles.
As a Parchment CLR Charter Member program participant, UMGC evaluated their learning model, with a goal of tying what its graduate students were learning to skills for employers. For the pilot, the university selected its Master of Business Administration program because it was structured to easily allow the extraction of competency-based data.
UMGC partnered with Parchment to create a meaningful CLR using data to demonstrate knowledge, skills, abilities, and learning outcomes within existing MBA course projects, including badges earned for proficiency of work. Students are able to access their CLRs through the Parchment Credential Profile to share with potential employers and their professional networks, such as LinkedIn.
“Leveraging our current CLR, we hope to direct its next iteration and, in tandem, work on developing a CLR for additional programs beyond the MBA,” said Insiya Bream, assistant vice president for Data & Systems at UMGC. “While generating CLR output is one piece of the project, another is exploring competencies and learning outcomes to fully support additional CLRs and digital credentialing efforts.”
“For UMGC and other higher ed institutions, a CLR is an innovative way of thinking about how to aggregate and disseminate credentials that benefits students,” said Jason Weaver, VP of Product, Parchment. “It tangibly represents learning outcomes, and that can increase student success by providing employers with the information they need to make easier, informed decisions.”
About University of Maryland Global Campus
University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly University of Maryland University College) is a world leader in innovative educational models, with award-winning online programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, as well as doctoral programs.
A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality, low cost, accessible higher education. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service.
Parchment believes credentials matter in the lifelong journey of a learner. Offering the most comprehensive academic credential management system, Parchment helps learners, academic institutions and employers request, verify and share transcripts, diplomas, and other credentials in simple and secure ways. Our platform has helped millions of learners, over 13K districts, university registrar offices, state education agencies, and receivers (including university admissions offices, background check companies, employers, college application services, OPMs, and certification and licensing boards) exchange more than 100 million transcripts, diplomas, certificates and other credentials globally. Founded in 2003, Parchment is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, with offices in California and Illinois. We help turn credentials into opportunities. Follow Parchment on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Adelphi, Md. (June 3, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and the Fort Meade Alliance (FMA), which includes more than 270 partnered organizations, are teaming up to increase access to higher education for the employees of FMA members.
The mission of the FMA is to promote Fort George G. Meade as a growing regional economic asset and provide impact to the region with targeted programs and initiatives. The alliance with UMGC is designed to increase the affordability of higher education through a tuition discount program for all employees of FMA member organizations with permanent residence out of state.
“Our teaming up with the Fort Meade Alliance is a match of two missions that can increase the skills of the workforce and boost businesses and economic opportunity for people in the region,” said Blakely Pomietto, senior vice president and Chief Academic Officer at UMGC. “UMGC is focused on educating adult students who are juggling full-time jobs—including military service—with family and other responsibilities, as well as their studies. We offer workforce-relevant programs and student services that are designed to support students who find going to classes on a traditional campus either impractical or impossible.”
“We are excited to team up with educational institutions like UMGC that have high standards in education and can bring a significant offering to the men and women of the Fort Meade region,” said Doreen Harwood, FMA President. “This partnership provides our FMA members with affordable education options that will help advance their careers.”
Eligible employees can choose courses from any of the university’s 90 academic programs, available entirely online, including in disciplines such as biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical workplace. UMGC also saves students money by using digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.
“UMGC has had a historic relationship with educating and supporting military servicemembers on installations throughout the world for nearly 75 years,” said Nora Graves, regional director at UMGC whose area includes Ft. Meade. “Supporting an organization like the Fort Meade Alliance (FMA) whose entire mission is to provide assistance in the growth and stability of Fort Meade and its commission and the partners that work alongside the military is an honor.”
UMGC’s online format makes it a great choice for continuing education, an advantage that has been underscored by the challenges that many brick-and-mortar colleges and universities have faced while operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shari Fleming, Esq., principal of the Law Office of Shari Fleming and an adjunct faculty member in the legal studies program at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), has been named to The Maryland Daily Record’s list of “Leadership in Law Honorees.”
The list recognizes Maryland’s legal professionals—lawyers and judges—who demonstrate outstanding dedication to their occupation and to their communities. Fleming is one of 10 who made the list in the Generation J.D. category, which recognizes up-and-coming legal professionals.
“I am both humbled and elated to be recognized by my peers in the legal and business community,” said Fleming. “My practice is enriched by my teaching at UMGC, and I am grateful to use this opportunity to continue to share the importance of advancing the concepts of ownership, wealth maintenance and wealth retention, particularly within communities of color, because Our Legacy Matters.”
Fleming is a business and legal strategist, focused on helping individuals reach their goals. “I believe in the importance of serving with excellence and integrity throughout every business and legal transaction,” said Fleming. “I serve a variety of clients from individuals to businesses, ensuring receipt of high-quality legal representation.”
Fleming earned a B.S. in Science in History and a B.S. in Black Studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. She holds a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law and is a member of the Maryland Bar. Fleming also has been trained as a court designated mediator of civil disputes and is a licensed real estate broker.
In addition to teaching at UMGC, Fleming is an adjunct at Howard Community College. She has taught courses in business law, business ethics, introduction to law, elder law, child abuse and neglect, healthcare policy, healthcare law and ethics and special education law.
Winners were selected by an outside panel of legal and business leaders. An overall winner of this year’s Leadership in Law Awards will be announced at the online celebration event on June 17. The honoree will be determined by a vote of this year’s Leadership in Law winners.
“This year’s Leadership in Law celebrates the legal professionals who make this state great,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, senior group publisher of The Daily Record. “We honor their excellent work in the profession in addition to their devoted community service and mentoring of the next generation. In addition, the Generation J.D. Award recognizes those in the early stages of their careers, and the Lifetime Achievement Award honors those who have dedicated many years to the profession. We at The Daily Record are pleased to recognize this year’s honorees.”
Winners will be profiled in a special insert in the newspaper’s June 18 issue and on its website.
In addition to Fleming, others in the Generation J.D. category included:
Heather Welch Arbogast, McGuireWoods LLP
Ashleigh J.F. Lynn, Venable LLP
Nicholas R. McDaniels, Lewis McDaniels LLC
Raynna A. Nkwanyuo, O’Donoghue & O’Donoghue
Thomasina Poirot, Venable LLP
Aarti Kaur Sidhu, Disability Rights Maryland
Nicholas Stewart, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP
Tony William Torain II, Polsinelli P.C.
Nicole K. Whitecar, Miles & Stockbridge P.C.
2021 Lifetime Achievement Honorees
Hon. Andre M. Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Organizations to Collaborate on Education Fairs, Support Services and Other Programs and Activities
Adelphi, Md. (May 24, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and Easterseals DC MD VA have teamed up to support military-affiliated students with a host of programs designed to help them secure employment, housing, healthcare and other needs as they transition to civilian careers.
“Easterseals is a world-class organization that provides compassionate and quality care and support to active duty servicemembers, veterans, and their families,” said Nicole DeRamus-Suazo, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Veterans Programs at UMGC. “We are pleased and honored to join this alliance and help bring that stellar service and support to our military-affiliated students and alumni and their families where they need it most.”
The alliance collectively integrates the efforts of the UMGC’s Veterans Programs, Career Services, and Corporate Learning Solutions teams and yields an agreement that aligns with the missions of both organizations and supports transitioning veterans and their families.
“We are excited to partner with UMGC to serve members of the military community more comprehensively, said Jon Horowitch, president and CEO of of Easterseals DC MD VA. “At Easterseals, we are committed to respecting each individual and ensuring he or she meets personal goals— which is critical for veterans transitioning to civilian employment who want a meaningful career.”
As part of the alliance, Easterseals DC MD VA will connect UMGC students with internships and other employment opportunities at their organization, while UMGC will invite Easterseals to participate in the university’s military and veteran appreciation fair, military open houses, informational webinars and career fairs. Additionally, Easterseals employees and their spouses and dependents may qualify for tuition discounts at UMGC.
Easterseals provides a variety of services to ensure military families are fully embraced in a hopeful, inclusive community, including the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Easterseals for mental health; the Veterans Staffing Network (including the Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program) for employment coaching and placement; Military Family Respite, which provides support for military families whose children have severe disabilities and children of wounded warriors; Child Development Services for military families (including the Little Warriors scholarship program for children of wounded warriors); and Adult Day Services that help keep veterans with disabilities out of nursing homes and in the community.
Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, commander of the Maryland Army National Guard, called on University of Maryland Global Campus graduates to help others, pursue self-improvement, and focus on solutions in her keynote address at the university’s 2021 Virtual Spring Stateside Commencement. Herself a UMGC alumna, Birckhead commanded the National Guard troops that protected the U.S. Capitol and presidential inauguration following the failed insurrection of January 6.
“There is no lack of talent for identifying problems,” Birckhead said in her keynote. “However, fewer people can identify solutions, and even fewer are prepared and able to take action on that solution. Use what you have learned, and the relationships you have built through the UMGC program to think critically and act intentionally.”
Birckhead said graduates should “stay grounded and help others. We all stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us. Be a giant in the life of someone who wants to be a solution finder, not a divider.” She added, “Commit to spending time every day in the pursuit of self-improvement, and actuating your plan. This will change you. This will change how you see the world, and it will change how the world sees you.”
The 2021 virtual commencement website also features the complete commencement program, including the conferral of degrees by UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler, a message from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a roll call of graduates—including their photos and quotes—as well as congratulatory messages from UMGC faculty, staff and friends.
The site was visited by more than 14,000 unique viewers on Saturday, May 15, and messages on social media garnered more than 55,000 views. The ceremony will remain available for on-demand viewing through October 15, 2021.
Raymond Fisher, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spoke on behalf of the graduating class. Fisher, who traces his lineage to a slave owned by George Washington, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems management after a 25-year journey.
A native Washingtonian, Fisher was the youngest of six children and orphaned by the time he was 11. Yet three of the six children now hold UMGC degrees. After graduating from high school and attending Anne Arundel Community College, Fisher joined the Marines, serving two combat tours.
He attended Purdue University but left to work as a junior engineer, rising to a software programmer and tester in the dot-com era. Often the only person of color in his office, Fisher acknowledged that he “dealt with the challenges that came with that.”
Six years ago, he decided it was time to finish his bachelor’s degree, “with all of the early mornings, late nights and family time that had to be managed, not sacrificed. It took all of the courage, self-discipline and integrity that I developed growing up and solidified in the Marines, where I became a man.”
He faced an inner journey, as well, acknowledging that “I have a little boy, trapped deep inside of me, who is so afraid to fail. So, he hides. But in this journey, I had to open the door within me. Take him by the hand and say, We need to step outside, outside of the comfort zone to the limitless possibilities life has to offer.’”
Noting that he and his fellow graduates were tested by having to complete their degrees during the coronavirus pandemic, Fisher said: “It did not shake our resolve. Instead, it brought us closer together, more determined than ever, even as we mourn those who have fallen to this illness. At the start of spring semester, I had two classmates become ill with the virus. But our professors showed compassion and empathy, extending deadlines, and allowing my classmates to focus on their health. It made a huge difference. They both are graduating with us today.”
“We—the class of 2021—collectively say, Here we are,” Fisher concluded. “We’re fierce, confident, and ready for any challenge, shaped by the academic crucible of this institution of excellence.”
Governor Hogan also highlighted the perseverance of the graduates completing their programs during the pandemic.
“Normal life came to a screeching halt over the past year, and it forced all of us to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter,” Hogan said. “Staying apart from friends and family reminded us how much we depend on and need each other to get through the hard times. We were reminded that each day is precious.”
With the end of the pandemic in sight, Hogan challenged the graduates to “remember that each of us can make the days ahead count that much more.”
In special remarks to graduates who are active-duty military servicemembers and veterans, UMGC’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army, Ret.), praised their achievements and urged them to “acknowledge all of those who have helped them along the long path to get to this day.
“There were probably parents, mentors and children and close personal friends who encouraged you to keep it up [and] press on,” said Miles. He continued, “When you were tired: press on. When you were sick or discouraged: press on. When you didn’t think you could do any more: press on. Wherever they are, you owe them a debt of gratitude. Please take some time today to reach out and thank them.”
From the perspective of a distinguished 32-year military career, Miles said that “what truly matters in life is not the amount of education a person has or his race or his economic background or station in life. What matters is how you treat others. It’s about your heart and your commitment to your fellow man. It’s about sacrifice and honor and loyalty.”
Vivian Mojica, another 2021 graduate, sang the university’s alma mater at the conclusion of the ceremony. Mojica earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Science.
Mariya Wasti, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management, received the most votes in a cap decorating contest that included more than 100 entries. Her winning cap featured the Arabic phrase “Alhamdulillah”—which means “thank God”—in gold lettering surrounded by white and pink beads and a turquoise fabric boarder. Wasti said her faith “kept her motivated and determined on achieving my life goals. I also believe God always has better plans for us.”
Snapshot of UMGC graduates for 2020-21:
UMGC held separate commencement ceremonies in Asia (April 24) and Europe (May 1) to accommodate graduates who are serving in the military overseas.
Total number of graduates worldwide: 13,171
Locations of our graduates: All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 32 countries and territories.
Adelphi, Md. (May 11, 2021)–University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and the Kentucky Community Technical College System (KCTCS) have announced an alliance that will expand the reach of UMGC’s 90 online academic programs to the more than 100,000 students enrolled in the system’s 16 community colleges.
The alliance maximizes the application of KCTCS students’ coursework and credits to their bachelor’s degree programs, guaranteeing admission to UMGC and their preferred programs of study.
Most students will be able to transfer at least 60 credits—and up to a maximum of 70 credits—when they complete their associates degree and transfer to UMGC to complete a bachelor’s degree in a complementary field of study.
“We are proud to establish this alliance with KCTCS, which will increase access and affordability and accelerate the pathway to a four-year degree,” said Gregory Fowler, president of UMGC. “By maximizing transfer credit and guaranteeing admission into a student’s preferred program of study, we are providing students an opportunity to achieve their educational goals while saving time and money.”
“KCTCS associate degree graduates are ready to transfer to and succeed in a bachelor’s degree program,” said KCTCS Chancellor Kris Williams. “UMGC offers a broad range of programs that meet students’ needs, and we welcome the partnership.”
UMGC offers award-winning online programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. UMGC also offers cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.
Rising to the Top Echelons of the Maryland National Guard, Birckhead Excelled at Leading National Guard Troops from Around the Country in Protecting the U.S. Capitol After the Failed Insurrection and During the Presidential Inauguration in January
As a young girl growing up in Snow Hill, a small hamlet on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead wanted to be a civil rights lawyer. Public service and community involvement were hallmarks of her immediate and extended family; her mother was a judge and several aunts were teachers.
A good student, Birckhead scored a prestigious summer internship when she was in high school, working as a page in the U.S. Senate, a position sponsored by Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland. She majored in political science at Hampton University in Virginia, but instead of moving on to law school, chose a career in public service and the military.
Birckhead’s decision was rooted in a lesson she learned from her mother when Birckhead was a sixth grader. She had stayed up late to finish a poster, and on her way to school the next day her mother let her know that she had done a good job. Later, though, she pointed out that the poster could have been great, if only Birckhead hadn’t procrastinated.
“I received the message loud and clear,” Birckhead vividly recalled. “I needed to take charge of my life and not let things distract me.”
Fast-forward to her senior year of high school, and Birckhead’s mother was at it again when Birckhead was applying for financial aid. She mentioned an Army ROTC scholarship, and her mother questioned whether Birckhead would be chosen in the highly selective process.
“I enjoyed competition,” said Birckhead, taking on her mother’s not-so-veiled challenge with gusto. In reality, her mother was not surprised when Birckhead earned the scholarship, which changed the trajectory of her daughter’s life.
Birckhead’s ability to switch gears and adapt, “to have a plan, but also a plan to change the plan,” she says, has served her well as she rose through the ranks, first in the Army reserves and then for the next 27 years (and counting) of her distinguished career in the Maryland Army National Guard.
She has been a chemical officer, an Aide de Camp to the Adjutant General of the Maryland Guard, commanded troops at the company, battalion and brigade levels, and served with distinction as a team leader and the Designated Military Officer for the Office of Administrative Review for the Detention of Enemy Combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Birckhead has also deployed on two separate missions to Afghanistan, first supporting plans to field and grow the Afghan National Security Forces as Deputy Operations Chief, and more recently as Division Chief for Logistics at the Joint Forces Headquarters.
After commanding a regional Army training institute, Birckhead went back to Capitol Hill and directed the Legislative Liaison Office for the Maryland National Guard.
She followed her mentor, Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, in company command, battalion command and, in 2018, as assistant adjutant general for Army, when Singh promoted Birckhead to the position Singh once held.
“I admire and hold her in high esteem and seek her counsel,” said Birckhead of Singh, who retired in 2019. “She is a role model and someone who can give me another perspective on what’s going on in the world.”
Birckhead was part of a first-in-the-nation all-female state National Guard command staff, which also included April Vogel, who was promoted by Singh to assistant adjutant general for Air several months after Birckhead, and Command Sgt. Maj. Perlisa D. Wilson, the highest-ranking enlisted person. Birckhead takes extra pride in the fact that she, Singh and Vogel are also women of color.
“I didn’t even realize that it was going to line up this way,” Singh told The Washington Post in 2018. “It’s not like I engineered it for all of them to end up in these positions. It just so happened that these talented ones started rising to the top.”
It was another Birckhead mentor, Gen. James F. Frettered, who encouraged her to join the National Guard in 1993 and who emphasized the importance of education as the key to her advancing up the ranks.
His advice had an immediate effect. Birckhead enrolled at University of Maryland Global Campus (then University of Maryland University College) in fall 1993 because of its reputation as a flexible option for people like her who must juggle a full-time job and military service. Birckhead was doing both, working in legislative affairs on Capitol Hill and serving in the National Guard.
“The military teaches you to think a certain way, so it is important to attend a university outside the service to be able to think more broadly about issues,” she said.
Birckhead earned a master’s degree in management from UMGC and attributed the program with helping her to prioritize, take her critical thinking skills to another level and better articulate concepts. She added that having older students in her classes at UMGC elevated the discourse. “Many of my fellow students had more life experience and were working in a variety of different fields, so I was learning not just from my professors.”
She also earned a master’s degree from the U.S. Army War College, preparing her to succeed in her leadership roles in the military, and ultimately leading to her assignment commanding Task Force Capitol, following the failed insurrection on Jan. 6 and continuing through the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.
People asked, “Why her?” Birckhead’s response: “Why not me? I worked on the Hill, I know it very well. I’m a leader. I’ve led at every level. I can do this.
“Not to say it wasn’t a very big challenge,” she added, “working in an environment that was volatile and uncertain. It was important that I was able to build a strong team [at the Maryland National Guard] and bring them with me.”
Birckhead commanded more than 16,000 National Guard troops from across the country and was impressed with their dedication. “Having soldiers from every state on the ground, as professionals coming together and perform, was extraordinary,” she said.
Reflecting on a remarkable moment, Birckhead, who had been looking out from the Task Force operations center on the day of the inauguration and observing the peaceful transfer of power, said, “it was very moving for me and for all of the soldiers who were guarding our democracy that day.”
Following her role at the Capitol, Birckhead was selected by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to head the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force. She currently juggles that responsibility with her position as deputy commanding general for reserve affairs at the U.S. Army War College.
Her accomplishments stand out, underscored by the fact that she has also held full-time civilian positions during her entire National Guard career. Among those roles, Birckhead, who is currently a senior advisor in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau Trust Funds Administration, has also served as a special agent in charge of Defense Security Service and has worked in the Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights field at the Office of Personnel Management.
As a distinguished UMGC alumna, Birckhead will present the keynote address at the university’s stateside virtual commencement ceremony on May 15. What will she tell graduates? “Be proud of the degree and let it be known you are a UMGC graduate—and go back and tell your story.”
Adelphi, Md. (May 6, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), a leader in providing innovative and quality academic programs online, and Reston, Va.-based Science Applications International Corp., a Fortune 500® technology and engineering services company, have formed an alliance that will increase educational opportunities for SAIC’s employees and their families.
The alliance will enable SAIC’s 26,000 employees and their spouses and dependents to increase their skills by taking individual courses or enrolling in any of UMGC’s more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree or certificate programs—all available fully online—at discounted tuition rates and with no application fee. UMGC also offers cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.
“SAIC’s employees serve our federal government, solving some of the nation’s most difficult technical challenges,” said Dr. Kuan H. Collins, Chief Technologist and Solution Architect Master at SAIC and a UMGC Doctor of Business Administration graduate. “As an alumnus of the university, I recognize how the powerful relationship between SAIC and UMGC creates real opportunities to grow our employees’ careers and enhance SAIC’s value to our customers’ missions.”
“This alliance helps to increase higher education options for SAIC’s employees and their families around the world,” said Blakely Pomietto, senior vice president and Chief Academic Officer at UMGC. “This new relationship is an engine that can drive SAIC’s workforce to upskill faster and more efficiently in a rapidly changing technical environment.”
Students enrolling in UMGC’s undergraduate degree programs may be eligible to transfer credits from other institutions and/or earn credit for prior learning, thus shortening the path to a bachelor’s degree.
UMGC’s online format makes it a great choice for continuing education, especially when many brick-and-mortar colleges and universities are facing the challenge of holding classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About University of Maryland Global Campus
University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly University of Maryland University College) is a world leader in innovative educational models, with award-winning online programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace.
With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, including doctoral programs.
A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality, low cost, accessible higher education.
In 1949, UMGC became the first institution to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe. The university expanded overseas operations to Asia in 1956 and to the Middle East in 2005. UMGC faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
UMGC now offers classes to military service personnel and their families at more than 175 locations in more than 20 countries. Today, more than half of the university’s students are active-duty military personnel and their families, members of the National Guard and veterans.
About Science Applications International Corp.
SAIC® is a premier Fortune 500® technology integrator driving our nation’s digital transformation. Our robust portfolio of offerings across the defense, space, civilian, and intelligence markets includes secure high-end solutions in engineering, IT modernization, and mission solutions. Using our expertise and understanding of existing and emerging technologies, we integrate the best components from our own portfolio and our partner ecosystem to deliver innovative, effective, and efficient solutions that are critical to achieving our customers’ missions.
We are more than 26,000 strong; driven by mission, united by purpose, and inspired by opportunities. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, SAIC has annual revenues of approximately $7.1 billion. For more information, visit saic.com.