Honor, Service, Sacrifice: UMGC Salutes Veterans

In a ceremony marking Veterans Day, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Devon D. Nieve was awarded UMGC’s Gen. John W. Vessey Student Veteran of the Year while Army Gen. Lloyd Milo Miles (Ret.), the university’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, and Maryland State Sen. William C. Smith vividly reflected on the meaning of the War in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal.

In his eight years in the Corps, Nieve balanced his military career while at the same time completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting summa cum laude and jumping right into a master’s program in Intelligence Management that he expects to finish next year.

Nieve talked about the rigor as well as the opportunities to working toward degrees while serving in demanding military assignments and deployments.  UMGC, he said, made that possible.

UMGC’s Gen. John W. Vessey Jr. Student Veteran of the Year, Staff Sergeant Devon Nieve, U.S. Marine Corps

Advanced education is essential for up-and-coming military personnel, Nieve said, “to provide the innovation, the ingenuity, the new approach to the problems that we face today. “t’s absolutely necessary in future wars.”

Not only will that education help him in his military career, but it will be essential as he makes the transition to civilian life.

He donated his $3000 in scholarship money that came with the award to a UMGC fund that helps veterans who have exhausted their VA benefits to extend their education.

In opening the ceremony, UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler spoke of the importance of the university’s relationship with the U.S. military.

“Today, as we honor the students, alumni, faculty and staff who have won the uniform of our country, and say thank you to all of our nation’s veterans, we are grateful for the many ways our relationship with the military has shaped our institution, clarified our mission and inspired us every day to live lives of service of honor, and have courage,” he said.

The Veterans Day ceremony was the first since the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to take over control of the government after 20 years of fighting.  A subtext for this year’s event centered on whether the fighting, bloodshed and cost were worth it.

Army Gen. Lloyd Milo Miles (Ret.), UMGC’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, said he wrestled with this, but concluded the struggle and sacrifice were worth it.

“I hope that someday when you take the long view of your life, you will remember the good you tried to do in that land of terrible beauty,” he said.  “The roads you constructed, and the wells you dug and the schools you built. And you will remember the excitement of the children as you handed out candy and the tear-filled eyes of a mother as you gave her something to eat.”

The historians and politicians will debate the ultimate worth of the struggle, he said.

“During your time in the crucible, you did your duty, to care for one another, to help the oppressed and defended the weak,” he said. “You fought for your friends and you helped people. From my perspective, that would be a good epitaph on any tombstone.”

In his keynote address, Sen. William C. Smith, who served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and is now an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, agreed that those who served in Afghanistan should be proud of their accomplishments. 

“Today, despite the current state of the country, every service member can hold their head high, knowing that we kept the United States safe for over two decades, and we unleashed unparalleled opportunity for millions of Afghans that they’d never seen before. Those ideas and that energy have taken root and will not die off quickly. Our service has made a difference.”

The ceremony featured a poignant video honoring the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, which included historical and personal perspective from Lillian Pfluke (U.S. Army, Ret.), a UMGC faculty member and founder of the American War Memorials Overseas, and Timothy French, a UMGC alum and sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Caisson Platoon, which helps perform funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

To view the entire UMGC Veterans Day Ceremony, click HERE.

World Teachers Day: A UMGC Classroom Can Be Anywhere

John Barbato has an uncommon claim to fame: He has taught for University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) on three continents.

“I’ve been all over Europe, the Middle East and South America for a year when UMGC had a program in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the early 1990s,” he said. “I’ve also had the privilege of being deployed to many remote sites like Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Bahrain. The list is long.”

Barbato is one of approximately 565 UMGC overseas faculty members for whom a classroom may be any place in the world. These educators usually teach in education centers on military bases—except when COVID-19 drove them to online education platforms—but they also have moments where a class might unfold in a tent, in a building stairwell, in a bunker.

They are drawn to the experience because of their links to the military, by their interest in nontraditional students, by their love of travel or, sometimes, by all three.

On Oct. 5, World Teachers’ Day, the experiences of these UMGC teachers especially resonate.

UMGC Psychology Professor Mindy Otis said teaching in a global classroom has been her best job. She enjoys her students and she gets to indulge her lifelong love of travel. Before joining UMGC as a full-time faculty member, she had multiple positions in the education field, including as a special education administrator and a school principal.

“I was living in Connecticut and I didn’t like the job I had. It was very stressful. I was looking for a change,” she said. She spotted a UMGC advertisement for overseas teachers and applied.

That was seven years ago, and she hasn’t looked back.

For Renaldo Walker, teaching at UMGC has an intensely personal significance. Walker is both a former servicemember and a former UMGC student. Deployed to Germany to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he began studying German through the university. Today he is a full-time faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate business, human resources and project management classes in Germany.

“The experience of being away from the United States and still having the possibility to pursue a valuable education with a respectable institution was influential in paving the way to where I am now,” Walker said. “I always valued what it meant to me as a member of the military to be academically supported away from home.”

Walker, even while teaching, continues his own education at UMGC. He is pursuing a doctorate in business administration.

Walker noted the irony of his current career, given that he was interested in sports—not education—when he was young. He described himself as an “at times below average” student when he joined the Air Force in 1987.

Several years into his military service, he felt “it would be an honor to travel abroad and pay service to our military members, Department of Defense employees and contractors, and their families in their pursuit of academic accomplishment.”

Gretchen Koenig, meanwhile, had always wanted to teach outside the United States. A professor of English, speech and writing since 2016, she said her position with UMGC in Europe “was a perfect fit.”

The theme for World Teachers’ Day in 2021 is “teachers at the heart of education recovery.” When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most stateside UMGC classes were already online or hybrid, which is a combination of online and in-classroom. At military education centers overseas, however, in-person classes were the norm.

The pandemic was a game changer. Walker described it as “the biggest challenge that I have experienced” in teaching.

John Nolan, a UMGC professor of history, leads field study courses in which students do online work and reading then meet for guided travel marked by lectures, museum visits, meetings with local experts and other on-the-ground experiences. Nolan was in London with a field study group when he got word that countries were locking down because of the novel coronavirus. His students managed to finish their trip, but a field study program in Spain was derailed mid-week.

Despite needing to shift gears for COVID-19, Nolan said he enjoyed the challenges that came with teaching online. “Though the classes have been small, the students have responded well and produced some of the best work I have seen from undergraduates so that, too, is rewarding,” he said.

Otis, meanwhile, was teaching in Korea when the global lockdowns started. “I’ve been in quarantine four-and-a-half times,” she said, “but being in Germany or Korea, compared with the United States, was much more restrictive. We were shut down and the only thing you could do was go to the grocery store or pharmacy or pick up takeout.”

She said the isolation of lockdown was hard, and her students in Italy and Germany seemed to arrive at the Zoom classes seeking both academic and social engagement.

“My students would stay online after class and we would all chat. It was our social exposure,” she explained.

Indeed, the interaction with students—and the opportunity to unleash their potential—is one of the things that drives Walker passion for teaching. He recalled the time when an MBA student was in touch to say a job would prevent her from attending the first cohort weekend in his class. Shortly afterward, Walker learned that the student was taking steps to drop the course.

“A program coordinator … was instrumental in advising her that she should first speak with me before doing anything further. She agreed, we eventually spoke and during our telephone conversation, she began to cry and explain to me that the office where she worked was understaffed so she was working most weekends, and that she was trying her hardest to establish work-life balance while also being a wife and mother of three,” Walker said.

The student was ashamed that she wasn’t keeping pace with the rest of her cohort.

“I went on to make a deal with her that she should suspend all efforts to catch up on her classwork until she had the opportunity to meet with her cohort. If she still felt ashamed after that point, then I would fully respect her wishes to withdraw from the course,” Walker said.

She went to class, met the other students and explained her situation.

“Needless to say, she fell in love with the cohort, caught up with her classwork, confronted her [work] manager about the importance of her pursuing her education and became one of the best students that I ever had,” Walker said. The woman completed her MBA, becoming the first woman in her family with a graduate degree.

Otis, too, finds it gratifying to see her students achieve.

“My students are the best part of the job. They never cease to amaze me,” she said. “Some of them come out of less-than-stellar K-12 education and they think they aren’t college material, that they can’t learn. Then they come to UMGC and realize, ‘Hey, I can do this!’”

Koenig noted that teaching servicemembers overseas often feels exactly like teaching students stateside—and then she is reminded of “the different stressors that our students have to content with.

“Many of these students are away from home for the first time, living in a foreign country, and many are facing deployments or training to additional countries. They are trying to maintain a stable life at home while everything around them is different,” she explained. “That potential loss of equilibrium can make classes more challenging.

“The actual classes and classroom interactions aren’t different, but the concerns or distractions weighing on our student’s minds certainly are,” she added.

Barbato said it’s not only the unexpected experience of teaching against a backdrop of different countries, cultures and challenges but, sometimes, the unusual form the classrooms themselves take.

On the first night of a teaching assignment in Kandahar, Afghanistan, his class was interrupted by sirens signaling a rocket attack. He was instructed to crawl under a table in the classroom until the group moved to a bunker.

“Once in the bunker, which was pitch black, I asked, “Can I still talk?’” Barbato recalled. “I was told I could, so I continued on with the class as I would have anywhere, going over the syllabus, the assignments, forming groups and talking about human resource management.

“We had been in the bunker for almost two hours when a student said, ‘Professor, it’s nine o’clock,’ pointing to his watch. The class was scheduled to go from 6 to 9 p.m.

“I said, ‘Do you have somewhere to go?’ We all laughed a bit and then we kept discussing human resource management until we were given the all-clear sign,” he said.

Not surprisingly, many of the UMGC faculty overseas love being on the road, and they take advantage of the opportunity to travel when they can.

Otis is an old hat at off-the-beaten-track experiences. On one trip she visited an amusement park in the bottom of a salt mine in Turda, Romania. On another, she tried out a multi-level trampoline in a coal mine in northern Wales. A 5,000-miles road trip took her through several countries.

“Before I came to UMGC, I was a normal suburban soccer mom. I went to work, I came home, I did potluck,” she said. “I love the life I have now. Next weekend I’m going hiking by myself in the Canary Islands.”

In Nolan’s 23 years with UMGC, he has taught in nine locations in Germany, six in the UK, four in Italy, three in Belgium and two in Bosnia. He has also had multiple postings in Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Diego Garcia. His field study courses, notably in Ireland and France, give him an extra opportunity to travel when he’s not at his home, a small farm in rural

Cornwall where, as he puts it, “I wear bib overalls a lot.”

For all his postings with UMGC, Barbato’s link to the university came through his father who retired from the military, served as dean of the European operations of a U.S. college that no longer exists and then taught at UMGC for 17 years.

Just out of college and ready to begin a job as an investment banker in New York, Barbato found his father trying to lure him back to Europe, where Barbato had attended school on military bases.

“My father had financed my studies in the form of a loan. He told me, that if I came over to Europe and taught with him for one year, he would erase the loan,” Barbato said. “That one year turned into 32 years and going.”

Barbato teaches business courses, including management and marketing. He is assigned to Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, the same base where his father served. At the Commencement ceremony marking the last year his father taught, the father and son—both UMGC faculty members—walked across the stage together.

Juneteenth Forum Highlights Contributions of Black Women Leaders from Civil War Era Onward

UMGC Europe celebrated the Juneteenth holiday with a special online forum that focused on the role of Black women in the fight for civil rights. The presentation was designed, in part, to address what one speaker characterized as the invisibility of the significant work Black women did to further the cause of civil rights both before and after the Civil War. 

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general in Texas read the proclamation freeing enslaved people. Black Americans have celebrated the holiday for years, and a number of states have observed it as well. UMGC’s celebration came just as the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to make Juneteenth a national holiday. 

As part of the hour-long program, Juneteenth: Women, Contribution, Evolution, Dr. LaShawn Thompson pointed out how, in American history, the role of Black people has often been obscured, and the contributions of Black women abolitionists in particular were practically invisible. 

“We must ask ourselves why the accomplishments of Black women in the march towards freedom have been hidden away,” said Thompson. “The little-known facts about African Americans in America become no facts at all. African American women are the most invisible of all.” 

And yet, before the Civil War, she said, they worked to keep families together when possible and to provide guidance for resistance, and after the war they became community organizers, despite starting with no formal experience. 

Thompson quotes Anne Scott (1990) author of the journal article Most Invisible of All: Black Women’s Voluntary Association, “How was it that women who had grown up in slavery were able to so quickly organize themselves after emancipation? But move, they did. In one way or another, organized black women touched every area of life, from home to politics.” 

That invisibility has been damaging for Black women, Thompson explained, even as they live with the myth of the strong Black woman who cares for everyone else. 

“It is the root of both physical and mental health disparities in her current existence,” she said and quotes Ward & Heidrich (2009) authors of the journal article African American women’s beliefs about mental illness, stigma, and preferred coping behaviors, “Additionally, negative social and political experiences including racism, discrimination and sexism have put African American women at risk for low-income jobs, multiple roles strain and health problems, all of which are associated with the onset of mental illness.” 

These challenges only underscore the significance of the work being done, and the program celebrated the lives of Black women who emerged to lead the fight against slavery and discrimination, to help educate African Americans and to establish businesses. 

  • Harriet Tubman, who grew up in slavery in Maryland and escaped north to freedom, returned repeatedly to lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. 
  • Sojourner Truth, who escaped slavery and was the first African American to successfully sue her former owner to win the freedom for her son, went on to become a leading abolitionist and women’s rights activist. 
  • Nannie Helen Burroughs—an educator, orator, religious leader, civil rights activist, feminist and businesswoman—helped establish the National Association of Colored Women in 1896.  In 1909, she founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C., to help provide opportunities beyond domestic work.
  • Mary McLoud Bethune, who founded Bethune-Cookman College in Florida—which became the standard for other Black colleges and universities—became president of the National Council of Negro Women and fought for Black voter rights. 
  • Dorothy Height, who worked against lynching in the South and worked for voter registration. 
  • Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to win a seat in the U.S. Congress, was also the first to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972. 
  • Madam C.J. Walker, who became the first female Black millionaire by creating a haircare system for Black women, employed hundreds of Black women through her business, which eventually included hair culture colleges. 
  • Ida B. Wells, who as a journalist attacked Jim Crow policies, fought to expose and combat the practice of lynching after a close friend was killed because he tried to break up a fight between a white boy and a black boy outside his grocery store. Her writings chronicled the struggles of Black people whose stories might have been lost to history without her work. 

Other participants in the program included faculty member Dr. Steven Carter, who provided an introduction;  Genesis Neely, senior traveling academic advisor, who presented “Black Women Through History”; faculty member Janique Parnell, who presented “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Legacy of Greatness”; faculty member Renaldo Walker, who performed a W.E.B Du Bois Reenactment; Pamela Frank, a member of the Diversity Council and a National Test Center coordinator, who presented on Ida B. Wells; Emerald Smith, a member of the Diversity Council and National Test Center coordinator, who read from a poem by Frances E. Harper; and Patricia Jameson, director of Overseas Diversity and Equity Programs, who led the organization of the event and provided closing remarks. 

UMGC Awarded Grant for 2021 GenCyber Teacher Education Program

Adelphi, Md. (June 7, 2021)– University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has been awarded a $90,000 grant through the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a GenCyber program for high-school teachers in the summer of 2021.

Building on the success of a similar program conducted in 2019, the 2021 GenCyber Teacher program, to be held July 26-30, aims to help a new, diverse group of high school teachers improve their methods of delivery for cybersecurity content in their curricula. Like the 2019 event, participants will leave with lesson plans, classroom projects, and a network of like-minded teachers to share future ideas.

“As cyberattacks continue to rise, particularly among educational institutions and school systems, it is vitally important that we arm educators with the skills needed to ensure the security of their students and schools,” said Dr. Loyce Pailen, senior director of the Center for Security Studies at UMGC. “This year’s GenCyber program will build on the 2019 event to provide educators the tools they need to train and inspire the next generation of cyber professionals’

The 2021 GenCyber program will comprise 25 teachers from STEM fields in Maryland and the surrounding area with a priority on teachers in Baltimore City. Consideration will also be given to teachers in other subject areas such as business, given the fact that cybersecurity is a critical element in all facets of the private sector. Participants will receive a $1,300 stipend for full program participation. UMGC will conduct follow-up sessions with participants to further their professional development and support the use of curriculum and materials in their classrooms.

The application deadline for the 2021 camp is Friday, June 11, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eligibility requirements and application instructions are available on the UMGC website. In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 program will be conducted in a virtual learning environment.

Brig. Gen. Janeen L Birckhead to UMGC Class of 2021: “Think Critically and Act Intentionally”

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. 

Keynote Speaker Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead

“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.” 

Watch Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead Keynote Address 

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.” 

Read UMGC Global Media Center Feature Story About Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead 

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. 

UMGC President Gregory Fowler

UMGC Virtual Commencement Website

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.  

Watch Raymond Fisher Address 

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.” 

Watch WJLA-TV ABC 7 Feature Story on Raymond Fisher 

Student Speaker Raymond Fisher

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.” 

Read UMGC Global Media Center Story about Raymond Fisher

“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.” 

Watch Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Address 

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.” 

Watch Special Message from Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army, Ret.) 

UMGC Graduate Mariya Wasti’s winning entry in the UMGC cap decorating contest.

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. 
     
  • Youngest graduate: 17 years 
     
  • Oldest graduate:  78 years 
  • Average age: 35 years 

UMGC to Host Military Veterans Virtual Appreciation Fair, May 13

Event to Feature Virtual Booths with Employers and Veteran Service Organizations Along with UMGC Career Services and Veterans Programs Staff 

Adelphi, Md. (April 22, 2021)–University of Maryland Global Campus will host the 4th annual Mil/Vet Appreciation Fair on Thursday, May 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. The fair will be conducted virtually through the VFairs platform and feature virtual booths and a virtual auditorium. The event is open to all military-affiliated students, staff and faculty at UMGC. 

Attendees can visit booths staffed by recruiters from companies around the country and representatives from veteran service organizations, as well as staff from UMGC’s Veterans Initiatives Office (VIO) and Career Services Office. In the virtual auditorium, the university will host a recognition ceremony for the SALUTE National Honor Society inductees and VIO scholarship recipients. 

To register for the event, please visit UMGC Military and Veteran Virtual Appreciation Fair 

“UMGC is committed to providing opportunities and resources to our military and veterans students, and our Military and Veterans Appreciation Fair salutes the men and women who are serving or have served in defense of our nation,” said Dr. Nicole DeRamus-Suazo, the university’s assistant vice president for Veterans Programs. “It is our honor to showcase veterans service organizations and employers who are committed to serving, helping, and employing veterans and their families locally and nationally.”  

As part of UMGC’s alliance with Audacy (formerly Entercom), the media company will showcase the fair through its “Eye on Vets” series on the ConnectingVets.com website. The feature will include interviews at the event with representatives of the veterans service organizations and employers in attendance, as well as members of the university’s career services and veterans initiatives offices. 

More than half of UMGC’s students are military-affiliated, including active-duty servicemembers and their families stationed around the world, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans. 

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, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans. 

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Shining a Light on the Pioneering Contributions of Black Women Suffragists

Black women—from Sojourner Truth in the 1850s to Georgia’s Stacy Abrams today—have played a key role in the fight for voting rights for African Americans. Now, a special Maryland Public Television (MPT) presentation jointly sponsored by UMGC and Morgan State University highlights the work of these pioneering women, whose contributions have been largely obscured in the historic record.

The program highlights the work of Dr. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, a Morgan State professor who established the university’s first PhD in history program and co-founded the Association of Black Women Historians. Her groundbreaking books revealed—often for the first time— how African American women kept the voting rights struggle alive.

All four panelists on the MPT program were trained by Terborg-Penn, including Dr. Damon Freeman, director of the history and African American studies program at UMGC.

Another panelist, Dr. Toya Corbett, assistant vice president for student affairs in the University of North Carolina System, spoke of how important Terborg-Penn’s work was in uncovering voices that were never included in history.

“[We] were made to believe that Black women did not have a role in building this country or in the suffrage movement or any other movement,” Corbett said, adding that Terborg-Penn had challenged that narrative head on.  “She inspired us to give voice to the voiceless.”

Freeman said Terborg-Penn opened a field of historic research that did not previously exist. Historians of that era did not consider Black women to be involved in the suffrage movement. Perhaps because White women had not welcomed Black women into the movement.

“They were invisible,” he said. 

Yet, beginning in the 1890s, Black women created a “Women’s Club movement” that is crucial if one is to understand their role in the suffrage movement, he said.  These clubs fought for voting rights and economic independence and against lynching. This is the work that Terborg-Penn painstakingly uncovered.

But the panelists pointed out that, even as one acknowledges these contributions, one must also recognize that the struggle for Black voting rights continues. It is never a straight-line process from total exclusion to full equality.

“As soon as you have political power, you have a backlash,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The first such backlash came in the 1870s after the 15th Amendment was passed, allowing Blacks to vote. Whites staged violent protest in an effort to stop Blacks from voting, creating systemic barriers that persisted until the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Now, another backlash is apparent, one that started in 2013 when the Supreme Court gutted those parts of the Voting Rights Act that required the Justice Department to review changes in voting procedures in states that had a history of denying Blacks the right to vote. It accelerated after the 2020 election when minority votes helped win Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

“They [Republicans] saw how we were able to unify, and what the Black community can achieve when we come together,” Browne-Marshall said. “The challenge to voting rights is to disenfranchise us again.”

As a resident of North Carolina, she said, she sees consistent challenges to voting rights, including recent changes pushed through by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature

Noting Stacy Abrams work in organizing the vote in Georgia in the 2020 election, in the two U.S. Senate elections in the state, and in the fight against recent voting regulations, Freeman said, “Black women are crucial to Black voting rights and getting people elected to office.”

Former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., also acknowledged the continuum from Sojourner Truth to Stacy Abrams.

 “The connective tissue is that the fight for Black women’s suffrage is an ongoing struggle,” she said. “So much of what needs to happen in this country is dependent on Black women raising those issues, and we do it through the power of our vote.” 

The virtual program, a part of Women’s History Month, was livestreamed on mpt.org on March 31.  It was moderated by Dr. Kaye Whitehead, an award-winning Maryland radio host and a Morgan State associate professor of communication and African and African American studies.

UMGC Opens Permanent Education Office at Morón Air Base in Spain

Following a tradition that spans more than seven decades of providing education to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, University of Maryland Global Campus has opened a new permanent office at Spain’s Morón Air Force base, which often serves as a jumping-off point for deployment to Africa.

It becomes the university’s 51st permanent location in Europe, and the second in Spain.

“Expanding in Europe demonstrates UMGC’s commitment to providing the best opportunities for American service personnel to access higher education while they are deployed,” said Tony Cho, the university’s vice president and director for Europe. “This is just the latest example as we continually look for additional ways to improve our services on the continent.”

The base is crucial to the American military capability in the Mediterranean and North Africa, he said.

Morón, which is shared with the Spanish Air Force, is located in Andalusia, the country’s southern-most region, near the town of Morón de la Frontera. It is less than an hour away from historic Seville and 75 miles northeast of Naval Station Rota. Its massive flight line, in-ground refueling system, long runway and prime location near the Mediterranean and the Middle East make it an important link in any U.S. operation moving east from the United States.

In 2015, the Spanish government granted the U.S. military a permanent presence on the base, allowing up to 3,000 American troops and civilians of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Taskforce – Crisis Response – Africa and the 496th Air Base Squadron to be stationed there with up to 40 aircraft.

In the past, UMGC’s presence at the base was using university personnel from Rota to occasionally set up a table to answer questions and to sign up students. This agreement allows for a permanent office, Cho said. The university sought the expansion after Girlie Ann Barcinas, who had worked with UMGC in Bahrain, moved to Morón when her husband was appointed principal at the base Middle School.

The UMGC Europe division was established in Germany in 1949, as the first university to send faculty to educate active-duty U.S. military personnel overseas after WWII. The division provides services to approximately 14,000 students annually in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (europe.umgc.edu).