University of Maryland Global Campus Meets Growing Demand for Data Scientists with New Bachelor’s Program

Adelphi, Md. (August 11, 2021) — University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) will begin enrolling students in a new Bachelor of Science program in Data Science in Spring 2022. The program, offered through the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology, responds to growing industry demand for skilled data science professionals at the bachelor’s degree level.

The demand for skilled data science professionals exceeds supply by 50 percent, and the shortage is expanding. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 11.5 million data science jobs will be created by 2026.

“As a pioneer in online learning, UMGC is one of a very few universities to offer an online bachelor’s degree in data science,” said Douglas Harrison, vice president and dean, School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology at UMGC. “Traditionally data science programs have been offered exclusively at the master’s level, but we’ve heard loud and clear from our corporate and public sector partners – and employment market reviews by organizations such as Glassdoor, Forbes and Gartner back this up – that data science is rapidly becoming ubiquitous across all sectors of the economy and generates incredible growth in job opportunities for graduates at the bachelor’s level.”

“The Bachelor of Science in Data Science program aligns with an expected surge in demand for machine learning, deep learning, Python, Tableau, artificial intelligence and natural language processing,” said Elena Gortcheva, professor and director of the data analytics program at UMGC. “The program aims to produce graduates who are ready to respond to the emerging need for skills in those areas.”

Graduates of the program will earn a certificate in Business Analytics upon completion of the first five courses in the program. The degree helps fast track careers in a range of private and public sector industries, including banking and financial services, sports and entertainment, health care, technology, manufacturing, retail, and government.

UMGC faculty in the Bachelor of Science in Data Science program are expert scholar-practitioners in all aspects of the field. They include principal data scientists at National FFA Organization, IBM, GE and Oracle Healthcare, as well as a chief information officer at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center.

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus 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 also 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.

UMGC Awarded New Five-Year Contract by U.S. Dept. Of Defense to Continue Providing Educational Services to Military Personnel in Middle East and North Africa

New Contract Extends UMGC’s Presence in the Region that Started in 2005

Adelphi, Md. (August 10, 2021) — University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was awarded a new five-year contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to provide educational services to troops on military installations in the Middle East, North Africa and downrange locations that may be in active war zones. UMGC has been providing educational services in those regions and other downrange locations for the last 16 years, with the first courses taught in Afghanistan in 2005.

The new contract, which began on July 13, covers coursework and management of testing centers at 10 sites in seven countries, including Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. In addition to undergraduate liberal arts programs, active-duty military personnel located in these locations can take courses in select master’s degree programs.

“We are deeply proud to continue our service to those who wear the uniform of our country in this pivotal region of the world,” said Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army-Ret.), senior vice president for Global Military Operations at UMGC. “It’s a testament to the quality of our faculty and staff and their dedication to the success of our students.”

The Middle East and Africa contract extends through academic year 2025-2026. UMGC also holds contracts to offer instruction in Europe and Asia. The university first began sending faculty to Europe in 1949 and to Asia in 1956.

 “We have been educating our active-duty military servicemembers overseas since shortly after the end of World War II,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “It’s a commitment that is at the core of our historic mission to serve adult learners wherever they are in the world.”

About University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)

UMGC is the state of Maryland’s open-admissions university. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, the university offers high-quality, affordable, accessible undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs as well as non-degree certificate programs in online and hybrid formats.

 From its inception in 1947, UMGC has been guided by its historic mission to bring education within reach for adult students in the workforce and the U.S. military in Maryland and around the world—students for whom a traditional education is impractical or impossible.

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 and education support services to military personnel and their families at 175-plus locations in more than 20 countries. Over half of the university’s current students are active-duty military personnel and their families, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans.

University of Maryland Global Campus Promotes Kristophyre McCall to New Role as Chief Transformation Officer

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.”

Kristophyre McCall

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.

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University of Maryland Global Campus Names Martina Hansen to Lead New Division as Senior Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer

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

“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. 

Top Higher Ed Publication Ranks UMGC No. 1 in Conferring Master’s Degrees in IT to Minority Students

Adelphi, Md. (July 12, 2021)—Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (Diverse), the preeminent source of news, information and commentary on issues concerning diversity in American higher education, has ranked University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) No. 1 in conferring master’s degrees to minority students in the area of Information Technology, according to its latest survey results.

The results, featured in Diverse’s most recent “Top 100 Degree Producers” rankings of institutions that confer the most degrees to minority students, are based on analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set. They represent degrees conferred during 2018-19. According to the survey, UMGC ranked number one in the category of IT master’s degrees with 758 total minority graduates in 2018-19 (474 men and 284 women).

“UMGC is particularly proud that minority students constitute 53% of our total enrollment and represent 52% of all UMGC credentials, including degrees in the fastest growing and most in-demand fields,” said Douglas Harrison, vice president and dean, School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. “This is important because meeting the workforce demands of the future in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) will only be possible by widening the funnel of opportunity for students from historically marginalized populations.”

Information Technology remains one of the hottest industries in the U.S. UMGC’s IT programs are designed with input from today’s top employers to provide technical, operational, and problem-solving skills for career advancement.

“UMGC offers a growing number of graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates in Information and Computer Science structured for current professionals, career changers, and first time job seekers,” said Dan Mintz, chair, department of Information Technology at UMGC. “Furthermore, we are continually expanding our programs. In addition to our existing master’s degree program in Data Analytics, which was included in the Diverse rankings, we are adding an undergraduate degree in Data Science and a certificate in Business Analytics, thus offering students even more career-relevant options in fields such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus 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.

Largest Class of Pillars of Strength Scholarship Recipients to Attend University of Maryland Global Campus

Unique Scholarship Program Recognizes Volunteer Service of Family Members and Friends Who Care for Severely Wounded, Ill or Injured Military Servicemembers

Adelphi, Md. (June 30, 2021)—Twelve caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured military servicemembers were awarded full scholarships to attend University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). That is the largest number of scholarships the Pillars of Strength program has ever awarded in a single year. 

Of the 51 recipients of scholarships since the program began in the fall of 2013, 13 have now graduated and four more are expected to join them by December. 

“Pillars of Strength is truly a marquee program for UMGC,” said President Gregory Fowler. “It continues our long tradition of service to the military and aligns precisely with our goal of bringing education within reach for underserved populations, thus improving lives and strengthening communities around the world. We are so proud of this year’s recipients, so grateful for their service to injured and wounded military personnel, and so pleased to be able to support them as they work to overcome the challenges ahead and improve their own lives and the lives of those they love.” 

“We are once again pleased that we have been able to expand the Pillars program even further with 12 more full scholarships to our great recipients,” said Richard F. Blewitt, founder and CEO of The Blewitt Foundation, which established the Pillars of Strength program in association with UMGC. “We are proud to remain the only program of its type providing full scholarships to the caregivers of our military heroes.” 

The scholarships are designed to help volunteer caregivers, usually spouses of servicemembers. These scholarship recipients have had their worlds turned upside down as they take over day-to-day caregiving responsibilities while maintaining a household, earning income to make ends meet and, often, raising children. 

The restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic made those challenges much more difficult. Among other things, they complicated the caregivers’ ability to be present when their servicemembers and veterans, who often had memory problems, visited doctors. 

These caregivers receive few, if any, educational benefits from the federal government, yet academic degrees are often essential to their ability to support their families. UMGC’s fully online programs allow these students the flexibility they need to earn college credit on their own schedules. 

“Caregivers give and give and then give some more… often losing themselves in that cycle of care,” said Besa Pinchotti, executive director and CEO of the National Military Family Association, a partner organization in the scholarship program.  Providing scholarships to these 12 caregivers isn’t a gift, but an investment in the future of their families who gave so much to our country. It’s an honor to work with The Blewitt Foundation and UMGC who are making it all possible. 

Melissa Allen, one of this year’s Pillars of Strength recipients, said it felt like a weight had been lifted when she learned she had been chosen for a scholarship. “I let out a huge cry and sigh of relief because it finally was like those bricks that were on my shoulders? They fell off.” 

Although the specific circumstances surrounding each of this year’s recipients—all wives—were different, in many ways their experiences were the same. 

They talked about how the “invisible wounds” of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder often went unrecognized while the servicemembers were in the field. These injuries also were not obvious to the public, and the caregivers faced critics who wondered why their husbands were not working. What the public could not see were the sleepless nights, the psychotic spells and the struggles to manage the most basic needs. 

Caregivers married to men who were committed to their military careers said their husbands did not want to accept that they were wounded, ill, or injured, even as they were sent back into battle. 

These women had to come to grips with how to help relieve the pain and psychological suffering of their loved ones while still raising children, working to support their families and handling most of the household finances and decisions. They had to become quick studies in disorders with long, complicated names. And they had to learn how to take care of themselves so they could continue to have the strength for their work and their caregiving duties. 

The bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration often was overwhelming, many said. One recipient has gone to work for the VA with the express purpose of using her experience to make it easier for other injured veterans and their caregivers to get the attention they need. 

“I want to help the veterans and their families in this journey, especially the new ones who are coming into the system,” said scholarship recipient Karen Lopez. “I’ve heard a lot of horror stories—how patients would fall through the cracks, how family members struggled to get appointments for their spouses. I want to make sure the gaps in the system don’t happen to them, at least on my watch.” 

Here are the stories of 12 remarkable women who are setting off on a path to remake themselves and build the resiliency of their families.

Melissa Allen, Bloomingdale, GA

Elisabeth Baugess, Springfield, VA

Volha Butkouskaya, North Potomac, MD

Sasha Clarkin, Bayville, NJ

Lelia Cottner, Kissimmee, FL

Karen Lopez, Kissimmee, FL

Amanda Martin, Fort Bragg, NC

Connie Ozmer, Bonney Lake, WA

Lisa Shaw, Monroeville, PA

Anna Soler, Tacoma, WA

Alison Storemski , Bowie, MD

Elisa Zanni-James, Fort Mill, SC

University of Maryland Global Campus Goes Beyond Traditional Transcript to Articulate Competency-based Learner Achievements with Parchment Award – CLR Services

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.

About Parchment

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.

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.

University of Maryland Global Campus and Fort Meade Alliance Team Up to Increase Access to Higher Education for Employees of Regional Group’s Member Organizations

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.

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University of Maryland Global Campus’s Institutional Advancement Team Sweeps Hermes Creative Awards for Quick Transition to Holding Highly Successful Virtual Events

University of Maryland Global Campus swept the international 2021 Hermes Creative Awards for creative communication, winning platinum, gold and honorable mention for work the Institutional Advancement team did to reconfigure  events online to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.

The annual Hermes Awards are granted to universities, Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofit organizations and advertising and public relations agencies in recognition of innovative communication work.

“You are being judged by your peers, by marketing communication professionals who identify work that’s above and beyond the scope of the standard for the industry,” said Nikki Sandoval, UMGC’s associate vice president for Alumni Relations.

The university was “able to adapt and move quickly” when the pandemic struck, said Cathy Sweet, UMGC vice president for Institutional Advancement. She credited support from other university units for allowing her team to take risks—and ultimately, succeed—and the awards recognize the university’s commitment to supporting students and alumni.

The Platinum Award went for the work done for the “Giving Day 2020: One Day of Giving, A Lifetime of Impact” campaign.

Giving Days are 24-hour fundraising challenges that rally groups of people around a particular cause through digital communication, targeting alumni, students, staff and supporters.

UMGC held its first Giving Day in 2018; it has since become an annual event. In 2020, Giving Day was scheduled for May 27, but once the pandemic struck, plans were adjusted quickly. The university realized the greatest immediate need was to establish a student emergency fund, later named the Student Aid Fund for Emergency Relief (SAFER), and the date was moved up to raise urgently needed money.

Even with employees in the midst of an abrupt transition to remote work, Institutional Advancement staff were able to meet an 18-day deadline to create a strategy for messaging, images, social media, email templates, data segmentation and website, and the campaign launched more than a month early, on April 20. The multi-channeled campaign raised $41,433, a 205 percent increase over Giving Day 2019, with almost all of the gifts were aimed at the SAFER fund, surpassing the goal set for that aspect of the effort.

The Hermes Gold award was presented for the UMGC Ehrensberger Legacy Society Induction Celebration that was held virtually on June 16, 2020, in lieu of the annual in-person luncheon.  The Society recognizes the university’s major financial supporters, inducting new members and seeking prospects for future members.

In the past, the event attracted about 25 local Maryland residents. But on just 40-days’ notice, the Institutional Advancement team converted the event to a virtual format, while accommodating many attendees who were elderly and sometimes not as technology-savvy as younger demographics. The event drew 87 attendees from seven states and Washington, D.C., greatly expanding its reach.

“What was originally an obstacle that we were a little nervous about turned into a great win,” Sandoval said.  “All of those who wanted to participate could. They don’t always have the ability to do that if the event is in-person.”  

The Honorable Mention award was granted for the “Alumni Homecoming and 30th Annual Awards: Together We Are UMGC” campaign.

As a worldwide campus, the university put on three events in one day focused on its three divisions: Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2019, the event attracted 375 attendees. By shifting to a virtual format, the university was able to accommodate  673 participants from 31 states and five countries.

Even more important, Sandoval said, UMGC was able to use Whova mobile and a web app that allowed the participants to customize their experience, seeking out fellow alumni with similar interests.

Four networking “lounges” allowed alumni to congregate with people who shared their interests, and by the time the event was over, the alumni participants had created another 20 lounges of their own. More than 250 discussion boards were also set up along with 144 meet-ups during the event.

“This put the power in their hands for how they wanted to network,” Sandoval said, “how they wanted to communicate with each other, and they have continued access to that.”

It was groundbreaking, Sweet said. “I believe we got this award because we developed something that no one else was doing. The team came together in the time of global crisis and found an alternative way to execute our plans.”  

She is “proud of the team,” said Sweet, and grateful for “the trust and support of leadership to make changes quickly to support the global UMGC student and alumni community.” The awards program is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.