UMGC Teams Up with Embry-Riddle to Increase Opportunities to Earn Bachelor’s Degrees

Two household names in military education have teamed up to provide overseas students with even more options to reach their educational goals. The new “2+2 Program” announced by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and University of Maryland Global Campus allows students to earn an Associate of Arts degree at UMGC and seamlessly transfer 60 credits to Embry-Riddle for the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics degree: https://erau.edu/degrees/bachelor/aeronautics.

Embry-Riddle’s Nancy Tran-Horne (Left) and UMGC’s Patricia Coopersmith.

The schools signed the agreement in August 2021, and enrollment in classes is open at military education centers across Europe and Asia. The partnership allows students to choose from a variety of modalities and face-to-face options.

“We’re committed to providing military members in Europe and the Pacific an opportunity to succeed in their educational goals by enrolling in UMGC’s local general education courses,” said Embry-Riddle’s Executive Director of Campus Operations Nancy Tran-Horne. “This program will set them up for retention and success with our aviation curriculum in order to support their professional career advancement.”

Both schools have waived application fees for program participants. Prospective students are encouraged to stop by their local on-base education center to speak with UMGC program coordinators or Embry-Riddle representatives for more information.

“UMGC is honored to work with Embry-Riddle on this partnership to provide an even broader array of educational options and services to the military community overseas,” said UMGC Europe’s Associate Vice President and Deputy Director, Patricia Coopersmith.

About Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Campus Locations in Europe and the Pacific

U.S. service members and their families can find the educational resources they need to become a successful student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide’s European and Pacific campus locations. Embry-Riddle’s flexible learning options, talented instructors, and knowledgeable staff can help you develop the skills you need to get ahead in your military career and beyond. If you are not affiliated with the United States military but are interested in Embry-Riddle Worldwide in Europe, please go to our ERAU Europe Campus website.

Reporters worldwide contact Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for content experts in all aspects of aviation, aviation business, aerospace, engineering and STEM-related fields. Our faculty experts specialize in unmanned and autonomous systems, security and intelligence, air traffic and airport management, astronomy, human factors psychology, meteorology, spaceflight operations, urban air mobility and much more. Visit the Embry-Riddle Newsroom for story ideas.

Embry-Riddle educates 33,500+ students at its residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona, at approximately 125 Worldwide Campus locations and through online degree programs. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report named Embry-Riddle Worldwide the nation’s No. 1 provider of online bachelor’s degree programs.

About University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)

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

President Biden Appoints Two Prominent UMGC Alumni to Leadership Roles

By Gil Klein

President Biden appointed two prominent UMGC graduates to federal boards in September – Florent Groberg to the American Battle Monuments Commission and Ginger Miller to the United Service Organization (USO) Board of Governors.

“On behalf of our global university community, I congratulate our distinguished alumni on these honors,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “They are part of a long-standing and honorable UMGC tradition of alumni first serving their country with distinction in the military and then returning as civilians to offer their talents in further support of our nation.”

Capt. Groberg (U.S. Army, Ret.) was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for tackling a suicide bomber while on a mission in Afghanistan in 2012. He suffered severe leg injuries when the bomb exploded, but his selfless act saved the lives of several people around him.

While recovering from 32 surgeries at Walter Reed Military Hospital, Groberg completed a UMGC Master’s degree in Intelligence Management.

Groberg now leads the Microsoft Azure Global Government M360 Mission Solution Team, which works with governments worldwide to identify key missions and systems that should operate on the Azure Cloud. Microsoft Azure Government is a mission-critical cloud, delivering breakthrough innovation and security to U.S. government customers and their partners.

The American Battle Monuments Commission is an independent federal agency that oversees permanent U.S. military cemeteries, memorials and monuments both inside the United States and in other countries. It is responsible for maintaining military cemeteries for 140,000 veterans as well as maintaining memorials for more than 94,000 service personnel missing in action or lost or buried at sea.

Ginger Miller graduated from UMGC in 2012 with a master’s in Non-Profit and Association Management. Hitting a low point in her life as a homeless disabled Navy veteran, she turned herself around, graduating from Hofstra University with an accounting degree and then following her passion in running non-profit groups.

She became a White House Champion of Change for Women Veterans and president and CEO of the Women’s Veterans Interactive, which enables and empowers women veterans to get the support and resources they need to succeed in their post-military lives.

She now serves as an Advisory Board Member at the Northwest Federal Credit Union and previously served on the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as the chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Veterans Commission,

Commissioner on the Maryland Commission for Women, and as a member of the Maryland Caregivers Coordinating Council.

Founded in 1941, the USO is the nation’s leading organization serving the men and women in the U.S. military and their families throughout their time in service with their assignments and deployments as well as during their transition back to their communities. Famed for its entertainment shows bringing Hollywood talent to soldiers fighting overseas, the USO has more than 200 locations in 13 countries and 27 states.

Groberg and Miller have both served as student keynote speakers at UMGC graduation ceremonies.

UMGC Highlights Fire Prevention Month and Educational Opportunities Available to First Responders

October is Fire Prevention Month, and last week (Oct. 3-9) was recognized as Fire Prevention Week, which aims to raise awareness on fire safety to protect people and their homes. Faculty experts from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) recently discussed fire safety tips and how UMGC educates first responders, law enforcement and other professionals.

“The latest fire safety campaign recommends sleeping with your bedroom door closed, so it puts that barrier between you and the fire and controls the spread, and also to create an evacuation plan for your house,” said Ralph Hutton, collegiate associate professor for homeland, intelligence and emergency management. “Make sure your smoke detectors are working and your batteries are replaced every six months.”

Hutton is currently updating content for Fire Prevention, Organization and Management course, which is part of the Fire Administration minor at UMGC for undergraduate students. Other courses in the minor include Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Personnel Management for Fire and Emergency Services, Community Risk Reduction for the Fire and Emergency Services and Emergency Services Training and Education. All the classes are modeled after the National Fire Academy’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education curriculum.

The Fire Administration minor can accompany one of the following bachelor programs: public safety administration, homeland security, investigative forensics or legal studies. Graduate students can also advance their knowledge by obtaining a master’s degree in one of three specialties: emergency management, homeland security management or intelligence management. Certificates are available as an undergraduate in Public Safety Executive Leadership or graduate Homeland Security Management specialization.

“We have instructors with extensive experience and students who are working in the field themselves, so the scholar-practitioner is a benefit to our students,” said Christopher Swain, program director for the public safety administration program at UMGC and a retired Major from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland. “Our instructors have a range of professional backgrounds from fire chiefs to emergency managers.”

Brian Powers, program director of homeland, intelligence and emergency management and

collegiate associate professor, pointed out that emerging technologies play a crucial role in educating professionals to respond to fire emergencies, natural and human-made disasters, urgent situations and much more. 

Recent innovations include fire behavior computer modeling, which can help assess risks before wildfires start and project their path and growth. 

“The use of drones is increasingly important for firefighters because they can be equipped with sensors, which can produce infrared photos and artificial intelligence of the fire area,” Powers said. “This helps gather information for the positioning of firefighters and managing resources.”

The impact of climate change is a growing factor attributed to the frequency of wildfires in the United States. Last year, an estimated four percent of California’s total land burned in numerous and more intense wildfires. 

Sabrina Fu, program director and collegiate professor of UMGC’s environmental science and management program, says, “The experts often say climate change is a threat multiplier for fires because of droughts and extreme weather.”

Powers highlighted the intertwined responsibilities of law enforcement, public safety and emergency management when dealing with various crisis situations, including wildfires. “If someone set a fire, all three sectors could be involved in the investigation” Powers said. 

For more information on UMGC’s various program offerings available to first responders or law enforcement, visit umgc.edu.

UMGC Cyber Team Enters Fall Season with a Victory at Parsons Capture the Flag Competition

Adelphi, Md. (October 8, 2021)–The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) cyber competition team placed first in in a recent capture the flag (CTF) tournament sponsored by Parsons Corporation, a global provider of cyber and converged security services.

At the Sept. 28 event, which attracted cybersecurity professionals and students of all skill levels, UMGC scored 4,300 points to beat out 10 other teams and take first place. The winning UMGC team included current student and active duty Air Force member John Cole, as well as recent alumni Paul Chilcote, Alex Barney and Jonathan Woodward, who all received their undergraduate degrees from UMGC. 

“Our win in this Parsons event was particularly meaningful because the team fell out of first place with only 24 minutes left, but then regained the lead for good and won by only 100 points,” said Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of Computer Networks and Cybersecurity at UMGC and coach of the competition team. “The victory was a testament to the highly developed skills of the students and alumni who participated.”

The Parsons jeopardy style CTF event tested participants’ skills on a range of relevant topics, including network forensics, coding, web hacking, cryptography, analytics, penetration testing, malware analysis, algorithms and reverse engineering. Typically an in-person event, students participated in this Parsons CTF competition remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. “In the face of the pandemic, UMGC has continued to grow its team and compete in remote events at the highest level and the Parsons competition, based in Denver Colorado, is yet another example,” said Varsalone.

Established in 2012, the UMGC cybersecurity team is composed of students, alumni, and faculty who compete regularly in digital forensics, penetration testing, and computer network defense scenarios that help them gain experience to advance their cybersecurity careers. To prepare for competitions, students detect and combat cyberattacks in the university’s Virtual Security Lab and work through case studies in an online classroom. Through its history, the team has received numerous top honors, including recent first-place finishes in the 2021 Maryland Cyber Challenge and the 2020 MAGIC, Inc. capture the flag competition. 

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models with award-winning online programs in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, information technology, and other high-demand disciplines in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate 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 accessible high quality, low-cost higher education.

World Teachers Day: A UMGC Classroom Can Be Anywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UMGC Names Sharon Fross as Vice President and Dean of School of Arts and Sciences

Adelphi, Md. (Sept. 30, 2021)—Sharon L. Fross, PhD, has been appointed the new vice president and dean of the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Arts and Sciences. Fross has served for nearly 3o years in leadership roles across higher education, dedicating her career to making colleges and universities accessible to adult and first-generation learners.

“UMGC is one of the few national institutions that has been committed to adult and military learners since its founding. I am thrilled to join such a preeminent institution−especially, at this critical time as the pandemic continues to change the needs of adult learners,” Fross said. 

The School of Arts and Sciences at UMGC offers degree programs that can be easily customized with a variety of minors. Students and alumni stay connected through lifetime career services and a strong global community that can greatly aid professional networking. 

“The nature of work is changing right before our eyes, along with the expectations of employees and employers,” said Fross. “Adult learners and employers know they can rely on UMGC to put learners first and to respond quickly and thoughtfully to these changing needs. I am excited to join the UMGC community of faculty and staff who do everything possible to foster the continued success of our learners.”

Fross holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Public Administration from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of South Carolina.  

“Sharon brings extensive experience developing online, credit and competency-based curricula, stackable credentials, and student pathways to meet workforce needs,” said UMGC Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Blakely Pomietto, when announcing Fross’ appointment. “She is adept in creating collaborative teams to revise and develop new programs.”

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models with award-winning online programs in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, information technology, and other high-demand disciplines in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate 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 accessible high quality, low-cost higher education.

University of Maryland Global Campus Teams Up with SHRM to Prepare Members for Professional HR Certification Exams

12-Week, Non-Credit Prep Course to be Offered Online

Adelphi, Md. (Sept. 23, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus, a trailblazer in providing online education to adult learners, has teamed up with SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) to offer a customized, non-credit course to prepare SHRM members for two key professional certification exams.

The 12-week, online course will prepare students to take the SHRM Certified Professional® (SHRM-CP®) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional® (SHRM-SCP®) exams and will run from Sept. 27 to December 17.

“We are proud to be working with the most respected HR professional organization in the world,” said Blakely Pomietto, UMGC senior vice president and chief academic officer. “The course we have developed with SHRM will help their members to become the most qualified and valuable HR professionals they can be for their organizations.” 

UMGC is one of only 275 approved SHRM Education Partners in the world. The online certification prep course is designed specifically for adult learners and includes a structured learning experience with a SHRM-certified instructor. The course will include the online and print versions of the 2021 SHRM Learning System, the official certification preparation tool for success on the exams. 

“We are excited to have University of Maryland Global Campus join our exclusive community of SHRM Education Partners,” said Nick Schacht, SHRM’s Chief Global Development Officer. “UMGC’s long-standing commitment to the career development of individuals around the world is a model for the future of work. We welcome the opportunity to add SHRM offerings to the UMGC portfolio.”

Students who complete the course and earn a certification can earn up to 9 undergraduate credits and six graduate credits toward a degree at UMGC.

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models, with award-winning online programs in disciplines—including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics and information technology—that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical global workplace. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may also include jobs, family and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, including doctoral programs. A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality, low cost, accessible higher education.

About SHRM

The Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally.

UMGC Partners with FPA NCA to Offer Free Financial Advice 

Last month, staff and students from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) Certified Planning Program (CFP) collaborated with the Financial Planning Association National Capital Area (FPA NCA) to host a virtual Financial Wellness Day. The event offered the public an opportunity to take part in pivotal educational workshops and receive one-on-one advice from a certified financial planner.  

“The UMGC Virtual Financial Wellness Day was the first time many attendees met with a financial planner,” said Kathleen Sindell, CFP, program director and professor of finance and economics. “Before the day, many of our UMGC personal financial planning students had never spoke with an expert planner about their day-to-day duties and experiences.”

Sindell and Peter Munger, JD, department chair of finance and economics, coordinated the event with the help of FPA NCA, industry speakers, and UMGC Certified Financial Planning program students and staff volunteers. Thanks to the day’s success, nearly 80 individuals received free, private consultations on financial issues ranging from household budgeting, debt, income taxes, mortgages, college expenses, estate planning and insurance. 

The day was structured so participants could attend up to three presentations in a virtual auditorium, in addition to one-on-one financial counseling. The presentations addressed key personal finance topics, such as basic investing and retirement and estate planning. Three lucky participants walked away with one door prize, which included the AverMedia Live Streamer Webcam, Apple AirPods and Fitbit Versa 3 Motivational Smartwatch. Participants also received 30-day access to the Financial Wellness website.

“I enjoy being able to give each client a personalized experience. In fact, my five-year goal is to become a financial adviser at a small to medium-sized financial advising firm,” said Rachel Woodward, a finance major at UMGC and student volunteer at the Financial Wellness Day. “I am currently working as a financial advising intern at Global Advisor Group in Reston, Virginia. My ultimate goal is to earn my CFP certification.”

The 2021 Financial Wellness Day provides valuable financial advice to those who needed it, and UMGC aspires to continue this important service. A survey will go out to attendees in October, and plans are in the works to use the feedback to plan a financial wellness event in 2022.

A Reflection on the 20th Anniversary of September 11: President Gregory Fowler On a Dark Day in Our Nation’s History that also Reminds Us of Who We Are at Our Very Best 

As national leaders, family members, friends and fellow citizens gather in New York City, at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania—and around the world—commemorate those who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, UMGC President Gregory Fowler’s message to the university community resonates with reflections of courage and sacrifice, and hope for a more peaceful future. 

To the UMGC Community:  

Today—on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001—we honor the memories of those who lost their lives in the attacks, mourn with all who lost loved ones and friends, and reflect on the courage and sacrifice of countless first responders, servicemembers, and civilians who were injured or died in rescue and recovery operations or in the international conflict that followed. 

While September 11 represents a dark day in our nation’s history, it also stands as a reminder of who we are at our very best, when we reach out with open hearts to those who are suffering and in need. 

Today and always, let us seek to be that source of comfort and support and, together, make our world a better, more peaceful place for all. 

Sincerely, 
Gregory Fowler, PhD 
President 
University of Maryland Global Campus 

International Literacy Day: Reading Shapes UMGC Lives

A University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) writing teacher hated reading when she was a child. An academic program director and author didn’t become interested in books until he was in college. The university’s senior vice president of global military operations turned to books because his family didn’t have the means to travel.

Today—Sept. 8—is celebrated around the world as International Literacy Day. A UNESCO resolution launched the day in 1967 to advance literacy as a human right and as essential in lifelong learning. In recognition of the day, UMGC leadership and faculty members looked back on their relationship with books and reading.

“There are so many moments in history that involve wisdom that came from reading. I think of Abraham Lincoln, of Martin Luther King Jr. I think of Malcolm X learning to read in prison, of Richard Wright talking about reading and writing,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “History is filled with the power of reading. Literacy broadens our horizons and helps us really grow as human beings.

“In its own way, it allows us to explore the world.” 

Fowler’s drive to read was fueled by impatience. He couldn’t wait for the moments when his mother or sister had time to read to him, so he learned to do it himself. By the time he started school as a 5-year-old, he was reading at a Grade 3 level—and was able to consolidate two years of elementary school, entering third grade at the age of six. 

Books were also a childhood fixture for Damon Freeman, collegiate professor and director of the History and African American Studies Program. His father read to him as an infant and toddler. 

“I vaguely remember getting a book around the age of 4. One day I walked up to my mother and began talking to her about ‘diplodocus,’” he said. “We have a photo somewhere of me trying to read my dinosaur book to my little sister.” Decades later, Freeman still owns that copy of “The True Book of Dinosaurs” by Mary Lou Clark.

The science section of any bookstore was Freeman’s go-to place as a child. His parents, both teachers, widened his collection by tucking in Shel Silverstein books for children—and he occasionally revisits a Silverstein book for its lessons about life.

“I think reading literacy and comprehension has been my greatest strength. I seemed to understand almost instinctively when a teacher would ask a question about the main idea or theme of a paragraph or chapter,” Freeman said. “I think the ability to contextualize facts and ideas is important to anyone’s life and has been central to my education in history and law.”  

Patricia Coopersmith, UMGC associate vice president and deputy director in the Europe division, also returns with frequency to a book she read when young: “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

Patricia Coopersmith, UMGC associate vice president, Europe division

“The rags-to-riches, romance, historical perspective—and so much more—sweep me away to another place and time, take any stress out of my day and always remind me of a few life lessons that I shouldn’t forget,” she said.

Coopersmith, a fan of historical fiction, said her reading of stories about kings and queens fueled a desire to see the world and directly connects her job at UMGC to her early reading.

Jeanine Williams, director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program, is clear about her early connection to books—and its irony. 

“I hated reading as a child,” said Williams. “It’s funny when you think that my professional background is actually in reading. I teach writing now but most of my work has been around students at the college level who needed reading support.” 

She said that work is designed to teach students how to more deeply understand the lessons found in stories. “I got into that because I realized how important literacy is to everything in life,” Williams explained.

She said she did not feel connected with books until sixth grade when a teacher “selected books that seemed to resonate with me and my classmates.” Today Williams usually is reading multiple books at a time. Even more, she is a demonstrative reader. 

“I don’t come to reading passively. When I read, I mark up the margins,” she said. “I get really engaged and have a conversation with the text.”

Author Steven Killings, director of the Humanities and Philosophy Program, described himself a late bloomer when it came to reading.

“I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17, after graduating high school, and didn’t really get interested in books until I was in college,” said Killings, the author of  “A Student Reader of Secular Latin Poetry from Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages” and the novel “The Queen of Sorrows.”

“A professor of mine suggested that I visit the Newberry Library in Chicago for a class project. The Newberry was like the Pierpont Morgan in New York City or the Huntington Library in San Marino, those institutions founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by wealthy industrialists whose aim was to create a repository of ancient and medieval books and manuscripts for American scholars. 

“I became fascinated by the culture of medieval scholars and manuscripts at the Newberry. I became friends with the special collections curator, and I changed my college major and began studying Latin and Ancient Greek so I could read the medieval manuscripts,” he said.  

Killings’ interest in books cascaded into the collecting of rare books, as well as calligraphy and book binding. 

Libraries were also a favorite haunt of Reynaldo Garcia, a professor and director of the Community College Policy and Administration doctoral program. He recalled being a regular visitor to the library in the Catholic grammar school he attended. “For every book I finished, I was always anxious to get back to the library and pick the next one, and then the next one, throughout elementary, middle and high school.

“Reading for me was always an exciting privilege,” he said. “Early opportunities to explore and develop those reading muscles made me a very strong student and a really well-informed consumer of information who is able to examine things with a critical eye.”

Today Garcia splits his reading three ways—and he always has multiple books going at the same time. He reads books that keep him current in his field. He reads for self-development, a category that includes books about history, politics and governance. And he reads for pleasure, from airport paperbacks to classic literature. 

Childhood books hold a special place in the lives of many UMGC readers.

“My earliest memory about reading involves a book about a mouse who wanted to bake an apple pie. I was able to understand that much from the pictures,” said Valorie King, collegiate professor and director of the Cybersecurity Management and Policy Program. “I wanted to know the rest of the story but there was no one available to read the book to me—my older brother wanted to play outside with his friends and mom was busy with chores. 

“I decided then and there that I was going to learn to read so that I didn’t have to wait for anyone else,” she said.

King’s aspiration didn’t actually come true until second grade, when a nun at Holy Redeemer School in College Park, Maryland “took me in hand and taught me phonics and spelling.” From that point forward, she borrowed books from her school library on a daily basis and, during the summer, walked two miles each way to the county library “to check out as many books as my arms would hold.” Science fiction was her favorite genre. 

“Those were the days when Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein were writing juvenile fiction,” she said. “I am constantly amazed that I am living with the technologies that they and other authors created and described in their fictional works.”

She added that she gets some of her best ideas for cybersecurity-focused student projects and classroom discussions from the works of authors like S.E. Weir, J.D. Robb, C. J. Cherryh, Glynn Stewart, and Craig Martelle.

King is a voracious reader, currently on a Kindle reading streak that is close to 160 days long. 

Books were also a gateway to the world and new ideas for Lloyd “Milo” Miles, senior vice president of global military operations. 

“I come from a poor background, and books were the way we could escape and read about different places in the world we never thought we would see,” he said. “I could increase my imagination from reading science fiction—Isaac Asimov—or ‘Robinson Crusoe’ or even comic books.”

For his work at UMGC, there’s a book that Miles keeps close at hand, the war novel “Once an Eagle” by Anton Myrer. 

“I refer to it a lot in the speeches I make. It has messages about leadership that I value,” he explained. 

Miles said he reads nonfiction during the day and fiction “for enjoyment and escape” in the evening before he goes to bed. 

Miles retired from the U.S. Army as a major general before joining UMGC. In his real-life journeys around the globe, he has often been struck by how people—especially those who do not have a lot—value books. 

“If you gave them a book, it was like handing them a bar of gold,” he said. “I always appreciated when nonprofits would team up with military to help us distribute books in various parts of the world.

“I felt that maybe we were helping them escape to a bigger world, like I did as a child,” he said.