University of Maryland Global Campus Taps MJ Bishop to Lead New Integrative Learning Design Unit

Nationally Recognized Scholar Joins UMGC After Leading University System of Maryland’s 
William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation 

Adelphi, Md. (May 13, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has announced that MJ Bishop, Ed.D., a nationally recognized scholar and leader in the design and evaluation of effective learning environments, has been named vice president of the university’s new Integrative Learning Design unit. Dr. Bishop began her new role on April 25. 

“Dr. Bishop brings three decades of experience in learning design and an established record of impact and success to UMGC,” said Blakely Pomietto, UMGC senior vice president and chief academic officer. “She has experience both in the design and evaluation of optimally effective learning environments as well as in supporting postsecondary institutions and their faculty as they explore and adopt academic innovations aimed at improving access, affordability, and achievement for students.” 

Dr. Bishop will play a significant role in continuing UMGC’s shift to a more collaborative and holistic approach to defining, designing, and solutioning for a range of learning and learner experiences. She has a long history of collaboration with UMGC and a broad and deep understanding of the institution and the higher education landscape.  

“I am excited and honored to be leading this new unit, which will bring together UMGC’s faculty, students, learning design professionals, assessment experts, and data analysts through a collaborative design process that signifies an exciting change in how we operate and what we are offering our students,” said Bishop. “We are combining the best of what we know from subject-matter experts, the learning sciences, design research, data analytics, and the affordances of emerging technologies to create and continuously improve online courses and programs.” 

In 2013, Dr. Bishop joined the University System of Maryland (USM) Office of Academic and Student Affairs as the inaugural director of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, subsequently serving as assistant and later associate vice chancellor and introducing new ways of thinking about student success, equity, and inclusion across the 12 USM institutions.  

Dr. Bishop began her academic career at Lehigh University’s College of Education, where she taught for 13 years in the graduate Learning Sciences and Technology program, while exploring how cognitive processing, motivation, affect, aesthetics, group structure, communication, and systems theories inform our understanding of instructional message design and research on best design practice. 

Dr. Bishop graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English and holds a master’s degree in English from Millersville University and a doctorate in instructional design and development from Lehigh University. 

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

Currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adults in the workforce and the military. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online and hybrid programs and specializations.   

UMGC has a long history of innovation in reaching students where they are, including as a pioneer of internet instruction, piloting its first online classes in 1994. The university has received numerous awards for its groundbreaking work in developing fully online degree programs, including in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, business, data analytics, health care and education.  

UMGC now offers classes to military service personnel and their families at some 180 locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s students are active-duty military personnel, their families, members of the National Guard and veterans. 

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University System of Maryland Board of Regents Recognizes UMGC Faculty Members for Outstanding Teaching, Public Service

Professors Celeste McCarty and Sabrina Fu, Ph.D., Honored

Adelphi, Md. (April 29, 2022)—The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today honored 17 members of its faculty at institutions across the system–including two from University of Maryland Global Campus–with 2022 USM Regents’ Faculty Awards.

UMGC’s Celeste McCarty, professor of psychology, was honored with the “Excellence in Teaching” award, while Sabrina Fu, Ph.D., collegiate professor and program director for Environmental Science and Management, was recognized with the “Excellence in Public Service” award.

“It is a pleasure every year to recognize these outstanding faculty members,” USM Board of Regents Chair Linda R. Gooden said. “I am especially grateful for their dedication throughout the many phases of the pandemic and pleased we can plan to recognize them in person, thanks to the work our campuses have done to keep their communities safe.”

Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.

“The bedrock of the University System’s quality, its prominence, its power to transform lives and change the world is, quite simply, our faculty,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “It’s a privilege to be able to honor them and celebrate what they make possible every day—possible for each individual student and for the body of scholarship that advances our progress and deepens our humanity.”

Celeste McCarty

Professor McCarty has taught for UMGC in the U.S. and on military bases in Asia. According to her nomination, McCarty’s approach to teaching is characterized by her use of real-world examples to bring the classroom to life.  Her classroom management style is defined by her responsiveness, actively engaging with students to ensure their development, progress, and success.

Her nominating letter also notes that McCarty focuses on discussions and assignments that help develop advanced critical thinking skills, psychological and clinical skills, and sound research methodology. She helps students become good consumers of information.

McCarty has received numerous awards for her teaching, including the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Award, the highest recognition awarded at UMGC for excellence in teaching.

Dr. Sabrina Fu

According to Dr. Fu’s nomination, she is the founder and inaugural regional coordinator of the Howard County Citizens Climate Lobby chapter, where she focuses on issues related to growth and environmental science-related service. She organizes public events, meetings, and presentations, as well as opportunities to lobby public officials. She is also a coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region of Citizens’ Climate Education, where she helps to empower diverse voices to talk to Congress about solutions to address climate change. She also is a Watershed Steward for Howard County.

Dr. Fu is a recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious People, Prosperity, and the Planet award, where she was recognized for using her environmental science expertise and her passion for community engagement to make the community a better place.

The USM Regents’ Faculty Awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. In addition to teaching and public service, the awards honor excellence in mentoring, research, scholarship or creative activity, and innovation.

About University of Maryland Global Campus

Currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adults in the workforce and the military. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online and hybrid programs and specializations.  

UMGC has a long history of innovation in reaching students where they are, including as a pioneer of internet instruction, piloting its first online classes in 1994. The university has received numerous awards for its groundbreaking work in developing fully online degree programs, including in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, business, data analytics, health care and education. 

UMGC now offers classes to military service personnel and their families at some 180 locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s students are active-duty military personnel, their families, members of the National Guard and veterans. 

UMGC Professors, Students and Alumni Share Success Stories of Women in Business

Fewer women than men tend to select careers in business, but they are making inroads. Women in management, business and financial operations had higher salaries than female workers in any other major occupation category in 2020, according to new data from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Business schools can play a powerful role in encouraging women to pursue business careers, in exposing them to strong role models, and in opening opportunities to network with business professionals.       

Currently, more than 13,000 women are enrolled in an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, certificate or doctorate program within the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Business. Businesses are booming, and empowering women are working their way to the top.

UMGC faculty in business education said women in business are increasing in visibility. To round out Women’s History Month celebrating women’s achievements, faculty discussed ways to advance women pursuing business degrees.

Anna Seferian, PhD, acting dean of the School of Business, says UMGC provides role models for women pursuing degrees.

“The role of business education is not limited to developing business acumen and hard skills in management, finance, marketing and other related areas. Business education motivates and inspires people to reach for higher goals, to be a better version of themselves and, through that, to be a positive force in our society. 

“The role of women in business and society is more visible now than ever, a major driving force behind so many changes and achievements. As we [as a society] continue to learn to be more inclusive and diverse, we [in the UMGC School of Business] serve as role models in our student’s educational journey. We motivate and inspire our students, just as our students motivate and inspire our faculty. It’s a rewarding experience.”

Freda Powell-Bell, PhD, director of the human resources program and collegiate professor, encourages her students’ success.

“As a professor I try to do three things to motivate my students, especially women, to stay the course and complete their business degrees. First, I try to share stories and examples of successful business professionals in the workforce and in the world as part of our online or hybrid classroom discussions. 

“Secondly, I share information with my students through classroom announcements about upcoming events, presentations, speakers, conferences and summits, such as the SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference or Women Spanning the Globe Conference, so that they will be able to see talented women in the field and gain an opportunity to network with both professional women and men.

“And third, I share my own personal testimony with my students to be a living example of a successful business professional. I want them to understand the benefits of persevering and the rewards and challenges they will face. I want them to leave out of the class saying, ‘if Professor Powell-Bell could do it, so can I!’”

Kathleen Sindell, director of the finance and economics department and director of the Certified Financial Planners (CFP) program, has multiple strategies to help students stay the course: 

“Provide clear instructions, use examples that students can identify with and maintain a steady online presence.”  

Kathleen Sobieralski, director of the accounting department and a certified public accountant (CPA), gives students successful strategies for achieving their goals.

“Your resume is strengthened as you enter the name of the school and degree earned. On an employment application, you may be asked to list colleges and universities attended and to check the box ‘Did you graduate?’ Let’s work to say ‘yes.’

“Read job postings. What education and certifications do they seek? This assists you in creating your path to success. Certifications such as the CPA or others such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) opens doors. Begin by earning your first certification.”  

Anthony Vrba, collegiate professor of management foundations, and nonprofit and association management, says engaging learners is a big part of teaching.

“The course MGMT 630 is one of the first classes that management students enroll in, and it is crucial that they have an engaging learning experience and know that they can complete an advanced degree. 

“Having an engaging environment can help students stay motivated, increase self-esteem, and continue in their programs. Part of that is a focus on having a variety of learning experiences incorporating videos, tables, reports and other assignments as would be experienced in the work environment. Having a variety of resources is also important, such as lectures, readings from practitioners, and scholarly sources and videos. Videos can include talks, lectures, or feedback video.  

“Sharing experiences is the best way I find to connect with students, especially to show how concepts learned in the course can be used in their jobs. Being a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, I have had many experiences that I share.

“Relationship-building is one concept that is very important in business and covered in our courses. I was the only female manager in the eight-state recruiting area, and I had to work hard to build relationships with others and be able to keep up with communications and strategies that were going on within the organization. At that time, I would have to go to the smoking area to get things done. That is where the men made decisions on policy and strategy, which was important for me to know. 

“Meeting people in their areas can help build relationships. These … can include connecting with people at conferences, in the lunchroom, even at the turkey trot. You never know when you can expand your network to improve your future.”  

Female students enrolled in UMGC business degree programs also shared their thoughts in honor of Women’s History Month.  

Ivory Cooper, a graduate student in management, information systems and services and the former president of the SHRM Student Council, underscores the opportunities the School of Business has given her.

“UMGC has an assortment of opportunities and is inclusive in its approach to learning and teaching. (…) From its robust career support services, various volunteering initiatives, and club activities, at no point have I felt my ideas being dismissed or was I discouraged from going into a field that many women are not represented in, like management and information systems. 

“My teachers have always gone the extra mile to ensure I trust the university but, also, myself, and [I] feel confident when I step out into the world,” Cooper said.

A master’s degree candidate in criminal justice management since October 2021, Lakerera Little says a UMGC degree will allow her to rise in her career field.

 “I wanted to move up in my current job role as a family law clerk. Hopefully, after graduation, I am able to manage my own team.”  

Making History at UMGC: Patricia Wallace and Her Role in Pioneering Online Learning

When schools and universities around the globe were quickly forced onto virtual teaching platforms by the COVID-19 outbreak, Patricia Wallace had one thought.

“I was thinking that this is going to be extremely difficult for most educators to do,” said Wallace, a technology pioneer who led University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) into large-scale virtual learning nearly three decades ago.

“If you’re talking about a fifth-grade teacher who is used to being hands on in the classroom with 20 or more kids, it would have been difficult moving all those kids to online learning,” Wallace continued. “At the university level, faculty at many institutions faced the same issues because they were not used to online teaching and a lot of their curricula was not designed for that.”

Wallace knows what she is talking about. As chief information officer in the 1990s at what was then known as University of Maryland University College, she ignored skeptics and spearheaded a move to online education before that concept even had a name. Because of her team’s foresight, UMGC seamlessly continued its courses in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered classrooms around the world.

Wallace recalled the intensive work, faculty training, technology acquisition and experimentation that preceded UMGC’s shift to virtual education in the 1990s. She said the desire to provide education to nontraditional students around the world, including in conflict zones, was the impetus.

“We knew our students needed pathways to education that didn’t require them to get babysitters and commute all the time,” she explained. “Another driver… is that we had students in remote places, like McMurdo Station in Antarctica, and a remote base had too few students to support more than a couple of faculty members. That meant only a small number of courses could be offered and the students couldn’t pursue a degree.”

The university constantly tested new distance learning options. In the 1970s, newspaper courses debuted in the European Division. Military newspaper Stars and Stripes carried reading assignments and faculty commentary; exams were administered in classrooms. In another approach, students earned credits through structured independent study. Participants did not attend classes but, rather, relied on tutors, television lectures, videotapes, texts and radio broadcasts. Then, in 1991, UMGC became the first university to offer a degree-completion program in which course materials were provided through cable and satellite television, boosted by telephone conferencing and voicemail. 

Those systems generally proved unwieldly, expensive or too hard to scale-up for a global student enrollment. A breakthrough came when students and faculty gained access to the internet.

“Some faculty in Europe and Asia started teaching via email and that was about the most successful,” Wallace said. “That’s how we started to think about how we were going to build this university online.”

In teaching via email, professors sent assignments and received homework assignments through their email accounts. But unstable internet connections, limits on file sizes and weather interference were challenges, and the approach still fell short of UMGC’s vision of a technology-based infrastructure capable of providing full-degree programs, students services, library resources and even financial aid information.

Wallace said the University of Illinois had been experimenting for many years with a computer-based instruction system called PLATO, short for Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations. It required a mainframe computer and special terminals. UMGC had a few of the terminals but students still had to report to a university lab room to take a course. Nonetheless, Wallace said, “the concept was there, so we looked into how we could do something like that.” 

By 1994, Wallace’s team had developed a learning management system called Tycho that students could install on their personal computers. The students then dialed into modems and logged in to see their course materials, interact with discussion forums, form study groups and contact their professors and other students. It caught on so quickly that it became difficult to keep up with enrollment.

“We had 54,000 percent growth over seven years,” Wallace said. “That’s even hard to imagine. Every semester, the classes filled up.”

She said faculty training was an ongoing challenge, especially as technology shifted and advanced. Over time, students were migrated into more sophisticated technology platforms and programs. 

Wallace, who left the CIO position in 1999 but remains an adjunct professor at UMGC, acknowledged that women in tech leadership positions might not have been common in the 1990s, but she said the university’s inclusive culture made it feel normal.

“I reported to a woman vice president. I had six units reporting to me and three of them were headed by women,” she said. “UMGC is a fairly egalitarian place. We didn’t have the same types of struggles that emerged in other organizations.”

Although Wallace carved out a career in technology, that’s not where she started. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1975, while on sabbatical from a tenured position as an associate professor of psychology at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, she taught as a short-term UMGC faculty member in South Korea and Japan. She left Clarion and returned to UMGC as a faculty member in 1980 when her husband, Julian Jones, was named director of the university’s Asian Division, based in Tokyo.

Soon after, Wallace added a master’s degree in computer systems management from UMGC to her resume and began to work in technology. Eventually, she was named head of IT for the Asian Division and then was elevated to CIO for overall university operations.

“At the time, there was certainly a lot of movement to attract more women to technology jobs,” she said. “In Asia, most of the people who worked for me were women.”  

Wallace said her pairing of psychology and technology may sound unusual, but the two disciplines go hand in hand.

“After all, we’re humans. We’re interacting with technology and with the humans on the other end of it,” she said. 

Wallace explored that interaction, examining how being online can change people’s behavior, in her book “The Psychology of the Internet,” published by Cambridge University Press in 1999. A revised and updated version of the book came out in 2016.

She is also the author of other books, including “The Internet in the Workplace” published in 2004.

Wallace credits UMGC for giving her the leeway to experiment. Her work helped open access to a university degree to generations of nontraditional students.

“The university took a lot of risks in many different areas,” Wallace said. “I’m quite proud of what we were able to accomplish on the technology side and the academic side.”

Gender Diversity in Cybersecurity Starts with Early Education and Overcoming Biases

Historically, women’s path to STEM-related careers has been challenging, whether through unconscious bias, lack of early education and mentoring, or work-life balance hurdles. According to the latest research by the non-profit cybersecurity certification group (ISC)2, men continue to dramatically outnumber women in the field—only 24 percent of cybersecurity professionals are female—and pay disparity persists.  Still, there was a bright spot: The report found that women in the field are earning leadership positions in higher numbers. 

What is the most effective way to close the gender gap in cybersecurity? Loyce Pailen, Valorie King, and Tamie Santiago, members of the UMGC School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology faculty, share their thoughts and experiences.  

 Loyce Pailen, D.M., senior director of the Center for Security Studies, believes that embedding cybersecurity into media and popular culture will lead to early education and increased diversity. 

I firmly believe that early cybersecurity education, which incorporates the interdisciplinary nature of cyber-related topics and careers, will help increase gender diversity in cybersecurity through expanded exposure in all media, with special emphasis on social media. Political agendas, daily news about cyber breaches and personal injury from cyberattacks will force more people to engage and focus on the cyber concerns of the future. 

These forces will energize our society to put more emphasis on cyber in elementary and secondary schools on both the technical and non-technical sides. To support this effort, we need to see cyber make it to the forefront of our minds through media and popular culture that includes diverse players in multidisciplinary careers. TV shows and social media are featuring more cybersecurity themes today, which will engrain some of the concepts.

 Professional mentors helped Valorie King, Ph.D., director of UMGC’s Cybersecurity Management and Policy Program, overcome education bias early on and work-life challenges later. 

Throughout my career, I was guided and mentored by a succession of managers, executives and senior executives—all women—in the U.S. Department of Defense. Following in their footsteps, I mentor women who are just starting out in the field. 

Early preparation in advanced math prepared me for college [and a B.S. in computer science]. However, 15 years into my career, motherhood-related work-life balance challenges derailed my career advancement. As a full-time mother, I made sure that my daughter had access to math, science and computer classes and resources that neither public nor private schools provided because STEM wasn’t yet a priority for girls. 

Re-entering the workforce was not easy and it took almost a year to find a well-paying job as a management consultant. Along the way, mentors helped me identify ways to update my technical and soft skills. My mentors also encouraged me to pursue a master’s degree. During my degree program, peers supported me and provided a professional network that led me to my next career fields, information assurance and later cybersecurity. I now lead an academic program where my duties allow me to continue mentoring and coaching cybersecurity professionals who are building and improving their skillsets through advanced studies and teaching in the discipline.

Tamie Santiago, M.S., D.B.A., collegiate professor in the School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology, maintains that we must overcome unconscious biases if we’re going to close the gender gap.

Unconscious biases often lead to conclusions that frame inquisitiveness as nosiness, curiosity as potentially self-destructive, and the gift of organizing and leadership as being “bossy.” A girl or woman who is investigative is often considered “nosy or a busybody.” One who has great attention to detail and organization is thought of as “controlling.” Someone who demonstrates the gift of problem-solving may be considered a trouble-maker, while another who has a fascination with the mechanics and methods of things may be looked at as being weird. 

However, these are the very skills and traits needed in the cybersecurity field. The making of great digital forensic experts, data analytic scientists, cyber technologists, and management and policy professionals all draw from the strength of these talents. 

How do we overcome these gendered biases? Mentors who can observe and correctly discern the importance of raw talent and the gifts in others will recognize the hidden biases in language and labels and will know how to avoid or dismiss them. Young women and girls who are fortunate enough to be mentored will see a future far greater than otherwise imagined. 

Mentees value mentors with whom they identify or have shared values. They also feel a sense of connection to mentors who positively challenge them academically and in discovery. I should know—I’m one of them! Correctly harnessing, properly directing and creatively exposing young women and girls often and early to the field of cybersecurity are key success factors.

With demand from both the public and private sectors, cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing career sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 33 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. With a median pay of $103,590 (as of March, 2020), combined with growth in the frequency of cyberattacks, demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high. Initiatives to eradicate bias, promote early education and encourage mentorship are vital to supporting women in this field, now and in the future. 

The Present and Future of Data Science: Five Questions for Elena Gortcheva  

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) this year began enrolling students in its new Bachelor of Science in Data Science program. Offered through the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology, the program is designed to meet the growing need for skilled data science professionals who can transform data into actionable insight.  

We caught up with Elena Gortcheva, UMGC professor and director of the data analytics program, for her thoughts about the field, the new program, and the future of data science.  

  1. Data science is in the news almost every day. What is it and how is it used in business decisions?   

We live in a data-driven society, flooded with data. Data science comes to the rescue by making sense of data. It provides expertise in how to manage and manipulate data; create data visualizations; build predictive models using different machine learning techniques, applying artificial intelligence and natural language processing techniques to get insights from free text, images and videos data; and make strategic data-driven recommendations to influence business outcomes.  

Large companies use data science in their everyday business. For example, Apple uses data to develop new products to meet their customers’ needs. Data science helps Amazon deliver the right products at the right time. And pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer use data science to develop new drugs and vaccines in a timely fashion. Data science helps local governments build smart cities to improve quality of life, and it helps streaming companies like Netflix build new products based on customer preferences.  

  1. What types of jobs does the B.S. in Data Science prepare students for?   

Data scientist is one of the most in-demand careers. Job demand exceeds supply by 50 percent and the shortage of skilled professionals is expanding. For the third year in a row, Glassdoor places data scientist in the top spot of the 50 best jobs in America in terms of salary, job satisfaction, and openings.  

Potential careers, among others, include data scientist, data analyst, business analyst, machine learning engineer, AI application developer, and cognitive analyst. Professionals in data science are essential in any organization, from federal and local government to private companies in just about any sector—finance, insurance, health care, social assistance, transportation, manufacturing, education, entertainment, food services, you name it. 

  1. What if I’m coming from a non-technical background? Can I succeed in the UMGC bachelor’s degree program in data science?  

Candidates from different backgrounds are well-suited for the program. Knowledge and experience in other fields, such as accounting, finance, health care, environment or industry are extremely important and useful in data science. The skills you’ve obtained from your work experience will supplement your newly acquired knowledge and skills in data science.  

You also are in the right place if you have no previous experience. You will learn about application fields through data used for course projects.  

The main prerequisite is that you love finding solutions to business and social problems and that you are willing to dedicate time to learn and to be an active, non-stop learner. This field provides the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of technology and its applications in any field or industry.  

  1. How does the UMGC program differ from other similar programs?  

There are several ways in which we believe we rise above other programs.  

  • We offer a skill-based curricula, designed on what emerged as the workforce needs of the industry. Additionally, we focus on application—the ability to do—as employers are looking for employees with hands on experience who are prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.  
  • Our program is multidisciplinary, involving both technical and managerial skills. This program is unique in preparing students with business, data analytics and computational competencies. The graduate will dominate the business operations of an organization and the information technology requirements necessary to ensure its viability and competency. The program culminates with capstone projects addressing real life problems from industry sponsors. 
  • Our program is cost effective. There are no additional fees for textbooks and software. Free access to all advanced data science software is made available in the cloud. 
  • All faculty have strong industry credentials in the field. Most of them are practitioners, with ample expertise in the field of data science and analytics, who bring their current relevant expertise to the classroom. 
  1. What are the emerging trends in data science? What does the future hold?  

Data science is impacting almost any industry. From the arts to science and healthcare, very soon data science, through machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), will be at the center of every major technological system in the world. For example, during the pandemic ML/AI helped accelerate the development of the Covid 19 vaccine by using powerful deep learning algorithms to predict protein folding. In the future, data science will permeate every aspect of health care, from providing clinical decision support for disease diagnosis and patient care delivery to developing new and more effective drugs and vaccine. We also will see data science play a significant role in helping the blind through the ability of ML to leverage sensors in smartphones as well as Bluetooth radio waves to determine the location and provide detailed information that the visually impaired need to explore the real world.  

Carter G. Woodson and the Significance of Celebrating African-American History

Editor’s Note: This commentary by Damon Freeman, PhD, professor and director of the history program at University of Maryland Global Campus, was written as part of the university’s commemoration of African-American Heritage Month.

African American Heritage Month is central to American history. Started in February 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, the month underscores the contributions of African Americans as well as the challenges facing American democracy.

Understanding Woodson, who is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Black History,” is essential to fully understanding the significance of African American Heritage Month. Born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, he was the son of two formerly enslaved parents who were illiterate but valued education. New Canton represents in many ways the heart of Virginia history. Within a one-hour drive lies Charlottesville, the home of slaveowner Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America; Appomattox Court House, where the Confederacy surrendered; and Robert R. Moton High School in Farmville, which became one of the five cases at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision.

Woodson was largely self-taught and worked in the coal mines as a teenager to help support his family. He finally received his high school diploma at the age of 22. He taught school for several years before earning a bachelor’s degree in literature from Berea College in Kentucky in 1903. In 1908, he earned A.B. and A.M. degrees from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he became the second African American to earn a doctorate (after W. E. B. Du Bois) when he completed his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. Since no white university was willing to hire him, he began his career teaching high school in Washington, D.C., before joining Howard University as a professor.

Woodson became convinced that the historical profession and academe generally had no interest in African American history or engaged in deliberate misrepresentations. For instance, most white historians at the time supported the view that the end of slavery and Reconstruction in the South had been a failure that did not benefit African Americans. Woodson devoted his entire life toward creating institutions dedicated to nurturing Black scholarship and pushing back on racist interpretations of American history. He helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). In 1916, he started the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History) and a smaller publication called the Negro History Bulletin. Beginning in 1922, he managed all three operations from his home in Washington, D.C.

In addition to building institutions, Woodson was also a prodigious scholar. He wrote or edited several books including A Century of Negro Migration, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, and The History of the Negro Church. Several of his publications were more specialized such as The Negro Professional Man and the Community, With Special Emphasis on the Physician and the Lawyer. But by far his most famous work was the 1933 publication of The Mis-Education of the Negro, an analysis of how African Americans were taught by the American educational system to be culturally inferior and dependent.

In 1926, Woodson introduced Negro History Week as an annual celebration. He promoted it at schools and conferences, in the pages of newspapers and in the two journals he edited. Negro History Week caught on and grew into events celebrating African American contributions including parades, lectures, poetry readings and exhibits. By the time of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the week had been expanded into Black History Month. 

Woodson died suddenly from a heart attack in 1950 before he had the chance to see the fruits of his lifelong efforts. While his life was impressive, it is important to remember that Woodson fits within a long tradition of African American intellectuals and educational activists dating from the late 18th century to the 21st century. African American communities demanded educational access or created their own schools in Boston, New York and even Wilmington, Delaware. In the slave states, where schools for the enslaved or free were almost always banned, African Americans resorted to clandestine means under the threat of punishment or death to educate themselves and their families. 

Like Woodson, African American educators and activists have always sought to document and take pride in racial achievements and contributions while simultaneously challenging American society to live up to its democratic ideals. This tradition is needed now more than ever. In several states including Kansas, Ohio, Texas, and Utah, politicians have proposed or demanded the removal of books offering challenging descriptions of race and racism. In Virginia, the new governor has created a hotline for parents to report “divisive practices” in K-12 schools. In Oklahoma, a state legislator has proposed a law that would ban teaching about “unique” oppressors or victims in the history of slavery. The ban would apply to any state-funded educational institution, not just K-12 schools.

As these ominous trends gain traction, recognizing African American Heritage Month and its humble origins becomes even more important. It arose as a community effort because of the repeated failures of American schools and society to provide a decent education to all of its children. Indeed, this was Woodson’s point in creating Negro History Week. He hoped it would be a necessary step toward creating a world free of bias, hatred and prejudice. 

The fact that Americans are debating whether to ban works from school libraries such as Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved shows us that our society is failing to learn the lessons of African American history. Clearly, much more work remains to be done to fulfill Woodson’s vision.

UMGC Nursing Program Receives 10-Year Reaccreditation

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 22, 2021)—The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) recently announced that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), has been granted reaccreditation for 10 years. The accreditation distinguishes the program for its quality and spotlights UMGC for providing education at the highest standard.

“I am proud of this accomplishment. This would not be possible if we didn’t have an awesome team working on the program and dedicated faculty who ensure they are delivering a high-quality curriculum,” said Mary C. Schroeder, DNP (Doctorate in Nursing Practice), who directs the UMGC program.

Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE strives to improve public health by supporting and strengthening collegiate professional nursing education programs. Programs that seek accreditation from this agency undergo a rigorous evaluation by experts in the field.

“I am grateful for everyone’s hard work to ensure that our students are receiving a quality degree that they can be proud of and will enable them to move forward in their careers,” Dr. Schroeder said.

UMGC’s RN to BSN program offers registered nurses an opportunity to advance in their nursing careers or move into other public health areas. It also aids in preparation for graduate studies. More information about the RN to BSN program and its course requirements are found at umgc.edu.

About University of Maryland Global Campus
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022, University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models with award-winning online programs in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, information technology and other high-demand disciplines that underpin 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 degrees and certificate programs, including doctoral programs. A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver higher education that is accessible, high quality and low-cost.

FAA Capstone to Protect U.S. Airspace Helps Data Analytics Grads Advance their Military Careers 

Two active-duty servicemembers in the Master of Science in Data Analytics Program at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) have become the first students to complete a new capstone project co-sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

The goal of the FAA capstone was to detect when an aircraft deviates from its air route. Being able to spot and predict deviations quickly is critical to maintaining the integrity of FAA-imposed flight restrictions. 

“I participate in many roles in the battlespace,” said Sarah Gaylord, a captain in the U.S. Air Force and a recent graduate of the data analytics program. “I manage gas plans and airspace safety, aid fighter aircraft in their tactical intercepts and communicate a common operating picture of our area of responsibility to upper echelon leadership.”  

For Gaylord, who is busy with her work as a battle manager, participating in the FAA capstone was the perfect fit. Likewise for Oscar Cardec, a fellow graduate of the data analytics program who joined the Air Force in 2000 as an aerospace maintainer on AC-130H gunships.  

Capstone projects with industry partners are an invaluable part of the last course in the data analytics graduate degree program. Gaylord and Cardec earned their degrees this December. 

“Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, several partners discontinued their involvement with UMGC for a variety of reasons,” said Elena Gortcheva, program director of the Master of Science in Data Analytics. She intensified her search for industry partners last spring, and her deep alumni network paid off.  

“I have been using my professional contacts since 2015 to start projects with partners such as NASA, USAID, American Institute of Research and the Department of Defense,” Gortcheva said. The FAA capstone came about when a recent UMGC graduate, Sarah Eggum, led Gortcheva to Sherri Shearon of the Chief Data Office at the FAA. After several meetings with Shearon, the two arrived at a number of project proposals from different FAA units. They selected two for UMGC under adviser Mike Paglione of the FAA Research Division.  

The two projects, with UMGC professors Jon McKeeby and Hany Saleeb serving as advisers, are now part of the collection of capstone projects for data science.  

The Data Analytics Capstone course allows students to demonstrate, through hands-on experience, a complete data science experience that includes problem scoping, dataset preparation, comprehensive data analysis and visualization, and the use of advanced machine learning techniques to develop a predictive model.  

“Students must tell a story and explain their project approach and results along with recommendations for future work” said Gortcheva, who noted that capstones benefit both students and industry. “Students gain exposure to real analytics problems using industry data and, quite often, the industry partner will recruit them after having evaluated them on the job.”  

Gaylord brought a unique perspective to the capstone. “One of the functions of my job is airspace management and making sure the area we are in charge of stays safe, which is very similar to the air traffic control [ATC] function of the FAA,” she said. “The concepts of ATC are ideas that I have been working around for the last five years of my career, so I was excited to see if I could apply my experience to this new project.” 

Gaylord believes the FAA capstone project will help her progress in the Air Force. “I hope to get to 20 years of service and apply the lessons from this project to products in my own squadron,” she said. 

For Cardec, the capstone offered an opportunity to complement his academic accomplishments with a real-world perspective.  

“I successfully presented various classification predictive models, expanded on the rationale behind each of the models and elaborated on possible applications,” he explained. “The deliverables were immediately accepted by the Chief Data Office and lauded as novel groundwork for further expansions.”  

Paglione at the FAA mentored Cardec and Gaylord during the project, providing focus and guidance.  

“He offered insights into what would work and what wouldn’t for the project,” said Gaylord. “At one point, I started moving down path he thought wouldn’t work and he helped to steer me in a more beneficial direction.”  

At the conclusion of their capstone, Gaylord and Cardec presented to a team from the FAA Aviation Research Division and a data scientist from the Chief Data Office. The two-hour presentations described their traffic data research on spotting when aircraft deviate from the route the FAA has given them.  

The presentation brought positive outcomes. The FAA wants to continue working with future students in the UMGC program. The agency invited Gaylord and Cardec to present their findings to its upper management and executives, and the FAA now wants to hire them.  

Like many UMGC students who are balancing work and school, juggling the capstone amid the demands of military service was a challenge.  

“As a captain and instructor in an operational squadron, I have a lot of responsibilities just in the office alone, but I also have to maintain physical fitness standards,” said Gaylord. “I managed by working on most of my schoolwork over the weekends.”  

For Cardec, the capstone was part of an important personal accomplishment.  

“Being the first person in my family, where English is a second language, to attain a graduate degree means a lot,” he said. “I am grateful for the shoulders that have carried me to this point, and I am looking forward to additional challenges and opportunities to put in practice my skillset before embarking again onto my next educational endeavor.”  

MILITARY TIMES RANKS UMGC #1 AMONG EDUCATIONAL INSITUTIONS IN ITS 2021 LIST OF BEST EMPLOYERS FOR VETERANS 

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was ranked #1 among universities in the Military Times’ latest survey of the best employers for veterans, the most comprehensive annual ranking of organizations with military-connected employment programs, benefits and support efforts. 

Military Times’ 2021 Best for Vets: Employers ranked 161 companies, non-profits and educational organizations across the country. In addition to UMGC’s top ranking in the Education-Teaching- Administration category, the university was fourth among organizations ranked in the state of Maryland and #7 in the Non-profit category. 

“We are proud of our commitment to recruit, support, and retain those who have served our country,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “Whether establishing relationships with veteran service organizations, working with government agencies on hiring initiatives for veterans with disabilities, expanding access to career development and health and wellness programs for veterans and their families, or our outreach to veterans at military job fairs, we are engaged in a variety of activities to both support our veterans who may be transitioning to civilian lives and helping them succeed in their careers.” 

Each year Military Times ranks organizations according to criteria related to recruitment, retention and career advancement. This year, it said it placed more emphasis on the practices that veterans say make civilian workplaces attractive to their talents and needs. 

“We had conducted focus groups with subject matter experts and with subscribers of Military Times,” said Tina Kurian, senior researcher for the Fors Marsh Group, a research firm that specializes in the veterans and military community that conducted the sessions. “They ordered which topics were most relevant for organizations to be the best for veterans.” 

The result, said group Director of Customer Experience Research Nicole Tongo, is a list of firms “that care about things that veterans care about, and good companies for them to explore if they are looking for a job.” 

About University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022, 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.