Back to School 2022: Seven Tips for Staying Cyber Safe

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Risks Report, 95 percent of cybersecurity issues can be traced to human error. Notably, emails and text messages are the easiest ways for criminals to deliver malware or access your personal information. If you are not cyber-savvy, a seemingly innocent email can be used to inflict damage, steal passwords and account numbers or trick you into revealing personal information.

Knowing the possible vulnerabilities and risks of fraud and cybersecurity breaches in advance will help protect students (and faculty) online. Philip Chan, adjunct professor in the School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology at University of Maryland Global Campus, offers his tips for staying cyber safe this fall and beyond.

1. Secure your internet connections and social media apps. Use a secure VPN connection and avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi sources in public areas. Secure social media apps by checking default privacy settings when opening an account on a social media website. Consider customizing your privacy settings to minimize the amount of biographical information others can view on a social media site. Never provide account information, Social Security numbers, bank information, or other sensitive financial information on a social media site.

2. Keep an eye out for phishing scams. A big cyber risk comes from emails or text messages that look like they are from a company you know or trust but are designed to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. These messages may claim suspicious activity, a problem with your account or a request for payment information. Make sure all emails are from a reliable source. When in doubt, forward them to a trusted IT contact at your institution.

3. Secure all your devices. Lock up any unused applications on your smartphone or other mobile devices. The best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats is to keep security software current on all devices connected to the internet. Be sure you have the most up-to-date mobile security software, web browser, operating system, and apps.

4. Protect your personal information. Be judicious about who has access to that information and how it is collected through apps and websites. Securing your devices can help protect your information if a device is lost or stolen.

5. Use strong passphrases, passcodes, or other features such as touch identification to lock your devices. Use security and privacy settings on websites and apps to manage what is shared about you and who sees it.

6. Check out the terms and conditions of any so-called free trials. Many subscription offers are tempting, especially if they offer a free trial period before you commit. These offers obtain your credit card number for a “free trial” but can authorize continuing payments if you don’t cancel before the trial period ends. Sometimes the return and cancellation policies on free trial offers are so strict that they are almost impossible to implement. The terms and conditions should precisely tell the trial period’s length and how and when to cancel if you don’t want to continue.

7. Secure your gaming platforms. Gaming platforms, including multi-player video games and online gambling, are particularly vulnerable to fraud. To mitigate risk, use robust authentication

at onboarding. Secure your accounts with a strong password, enable two-factor authentication where possible, never share login details with others, and always remember to log out when finished playing. Parents should familiarize themselves with cyberstalking and cyberbullying and what to do when their child becomes a victim. Parents should also keep devices out in the open where they can monitor their kids’ activity. Set limits for screen time and teach your kids to stay away from strangers on the internet. Promote safe practices such as not sharing personal information online.

When in doubt, report any incidents to your IT department or faculty rather than trying to handle them alone and getting in trouble.

Philip Chan is an adjunct professor in the School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology at University of Maryland Global Campus.

Faculty Recognized with Drazek Awards, UMGC’s Highest Honor

A cybersecurity professor at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) calls his students at home to get to know them better. Another faculty member tells a business leadership class about his experiences working for multinationals, including the mistakes he made. An instructor for the First Term Experience course makes sure her students know that she had her own stop-and-start journey as a nontraditional student.

These UMGC educators are among nine—five in the United States and two each in Asia and Europe—named as this year’s recipients of the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award. Nominations for the awards, which carry a $1,500 honorarium, come from students.

“It is the most prestigious teaching award UMGC can bestow on its faculty,” said Stefan Gunther, UMGC associate vice president for faculty affairs.

UMGC has more than 5,000 faculty members, making the awards highly competitive. The honors, along with UMGC’s annual Teaching Recognition Awards, are highlighted during Global Faculty Appreciation Awareness Week in December.

This year’s Drazek winners share a passion for teaching and a personal commitment to their students’ success.

“I think the faculty members who win the awards epitomize an instructional approach that we call the Three Rs. They respond to students in a timely and individualized manner. They’re excellent in building relationships, which is evident by the fact they are nominated by their students. And their instructional approach is highly relevant to student needs in the workforce. They provide topical examples grounded in their professional practice,” Gunther said.

Steven Fulton

Steven Fulton has worked at UMGC for almost a dozen years, most of that time overlapping with his career as a senior cyber analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense. He became interested in teaching in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology after receiving his doctorate in management from UMGC in 2009.

He makes it a point to get to know his graduate students, turning the online learning experience into a personal one.

“I’m not beyond picking up the phone and calling students. Sometimes it’s the first voice they’ve heard teaching online classes,” Fulton said. “I call if I see they are having problems getting projects done. I also reach out to students I think should go beyond getting another graduate degree and look toward a PhD.”

Fulton said hearing students’ personal stories helps him teach more effectively. “Some people come from a technical background. Some are from the military. Some are working at a very high level in their career field but they need to build their critical thinking,” he explained.

Stephen Orr

One of Fulton’s colleagues in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology is also a Drazek winner. Stephen Orr, an adjunct who works for the National Security Agency, said being on the UMGC faculty allows him “to give back” after having exceptional experiences with teachers when he was younger.  

“Academia is about theory and the real world is about practice. What I’ve read from student comments at the end of each class is that I’m seen as being able to blend the two of them,” Orr said. “I’m bringing what they’re reading in the news into our discussions, and I’m showing them how to mitigate against those threats. So, it’s not just reading, it’s real life.”

Orr, who has been with UMGC for more than a decade, said his students stay in touch. He has been happily surprised by emails every semester from “students who want to let me know they passed a certification or passed a class.”

Lynn Nolan

Lynn Nolan, in the Department of Educational Technology in the School of Arts & Sciences, plans to use her Drazek Award honorarium, characteristically, on new technology. Part will go for a malware update on her computer. She is also toying with the idea of investing in the Extended Reality (XR) technology that UMGC will pilot in two courses this fall. XR combines augmented reality (AR) with virtual reality (VR). UMGC is one of 10 universities selected for the pilot with educational technology company VictoryXR.

Nolan’s job is to help graduate students who are teachers—or aspire to be teachers—envision how technology can enhance learning across a wide range of learning environments. She has been at UMGC more than six years.

“I tell people that I teach the most fun course anyone could ever teach. I teach how to take any kind of technology—from laptops to cell phones to virtual reality to robotics—and use it in the classroom, whether face-to-face or online, to engage students,” Nolan said. “There are students who might be teaching autistic children. Some of my students teach special education or gifted children…. Some of my students even teach aeronautics in high school, which means I may have engineering teachers in the same class as kindergarten teachers.”  

Nolan said a deep connection to students is crucial in her classes, which is why Nolan hands out her cell phone number with the assurance that students across multiple time zones can text or phone her at any time.  

Brian Hults

In the School of Business, Drazek award winner Brian Hults brings three decades of career experience to his classes on business leadership. He served in top human resources roles at Frito-Lay, CASE IH, Consolidated Container Co., Rubbermaid, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Coca-Cola in Asia and Novartis in Switzerland. His final job before he retired was chief people officer at Web.com.

“In my MBA 610 course, everything we’re studying is something I’ve done. So, I am able to share my successes and the mistakes I’ve made,” Hults said. “I think having these concrete examples helps students retain the material and tie it to something real.”

He said his global work experience and his family background—his father was an active-duty servicemember—also make him more aware of the challenges faced by international students and students in the military.

“I check my email first thing in the morning and again before I go to bed at night so I can connect with students working and living overseas,” he said. “My international students light up when I tell them I lived in Hong Kong for three years.”  

When students initially enroll at UMGC, they are required to take the First Term Experience course, also known as PACE, to build their study and time-management habits, put them in touch with university resources, direct them to a degree pathway and set them up for success. Patricia Bush-McManus, the Drazek winner who teaches that course, makes sure her students know that she, too, was an adult learner.

Patricia Bush-McManus

“I stopped and started my studies many times, so I understand the student experience,” said Bush-McManus, who brings more than three decades of higher education experience to her class.

“I see my role as providing students with confidence, tools and resources they need to help change the trajectory of their lives.”

Like Nolan, she makes herself available by phone to students, even into the night, because “if someone calls late, after dinner and putting kids to bed or returning from the field, they are seeking assistance, support or resources.”

Faculty members Choungja Lee and Cynthia McGinnis, who both teach in Asia, said the Drazek Award was a dream come true. 

Choungja Lee

“My biggest dream was always to teach at UMGC. My family encouraged me to pursue that path and they were even more excited than me by the Drazek news,” said Lee, a language teacher who has been with UMGC for 30 years.

Most of Lee’s students are military students “who work hard during the day” then take night courses, much as she did when she obtained her education.

“I spend time getting to know students… Every student in my class knows that I am available if they want,” said Lee, who was born in North Korea and raised in an orphanage in South Korea during the Korean War. The orphanage was near a U.S. Army base, Camp Page.

“Our only neighbors were the U.S. soldiers nearby. They paid a visit and one of them became my personal English tutor. Once I could communicate with the soldiers, they became my family,” she said. “I realized from this experience that learning is key to my life.”

Her connection to UMGC came when she applied for a teaching position at U.S. Amy Garrison Camp Long at the recommendation of a Catholic nun she tutored in the Korean language.

Cynthia McGinnis

McGinnis also learned about UMGC through a family member, her uncle who served in the Air Force. She has been part of the faculty for three years, teaching math and computer science at the Marine Corps Air Station at Iwakuni, Japan.

“It is the best award when your efforts are appreciated by your students—and I feel I have the best students,” she said. “They are hardworking and appreciative of the time I put into each lecture.”

McGinnis estimates that she spends between 12 and 20 hours preparing her lectures. She said the effort pays off in her students’ grades.

“My goal is to help students realize their dreams. I went to university with a dream to earn a degree. My students have the same dream,” she said. “It is wonderful to help them on their journey.” 

In Europe, faculty member LaShawn Thompson said she was “overjoyed” by the news she had won the Drazek Award.  

LaShawn Thompson

“It feels good to know that my work is appreciated and others see the value in the services I provide,” said Thompson, who teaches psychology. “I am proud to join a specific group of people who provide the highest levels of education, mentoring and career services to a worthy student population.”

Like Hults, she also shares experiences from her own life in the classroom.

“I truly believe that these real life situations allow students to gain a deeper understanding of the material. Practicing in my field before I became a professor allowed me the opportunity to bring the academic content of my profession to real life and those experiences help create passion for the discipline in my students,” she explained.

She said teaching at UMGC has also caused her to grow personally and professionally.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful students and for a university system that cares about the population it serves as well as its employees,” Thompson said.

Michael Mulvey

The other Drazek Award recipient in Europe, history professor Michael Mulvey, believes well-taught history has everything to do with asking questions rather than memorizing facts and dates. Mulvey, who teaches out of Ramstein Airbase, encourages creative activities in his classes, including role playing. In his Roman Republic course, for example, students portray Roman senators confronted by difficult political and military choices in 63 BCE. Students in his World War I course write film pitches based on their research related to the war.    

At the same time Mulvey learned of his Drazek Award, he was also given an award by the United States European Command for supporting conversations about gender equity initiatives.

This year’s Teaching Recognition Awards include Donna Maurer and Steve Corbett, a retired servicemember, in the School of Arts & Sciences; Karla Perri in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology; and Deborah M. Wharff in the School of Business. Teaching Recognition Awards also went to Frank Concilus, Hak-Sun Kim and Theresa Schmits in Asia and Michael Blattman, Bert Jarreau and Jessica Stock in Europe. The teaching recognition awards come with $750 honoraria.

The Drazek Awards are named for Stanley J. Drazek, the second chancellor at what is now UMGC and a strong advocate of teaching excellence. Drazek spent 30 years at the forefront of adult higher education, and his work is credited with expanding opportunities for adult learners.

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.