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.

UMGC Student Joins Board of The Maryland Association of Health Care Executives

Adelphi, Md. (Sept. 3, 2021)— A graduate student in health care administration (HCAD) at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has been named the first student board member of the Maryland Association of Health Care Executives (MAHCE).

The student, who asked only to be identified as Kaitlyn, was elected to a one-year term on the MACHE Board of Directors.

“The election of Kaitlyn to the MAHCE Board as the first student member is a wonderful testament to the value and recognition the Maryland Health Care Executive community assigns the UMGC Global Health Management and Administration (GHM&A) programs and alumni,” said Liliya Roberts, MD, program director and professor of GHM&A. “Kaitlyn, an HCAD student sitting on the board of this prestigious and well-recognized professional organization adds additional pride to the UMGC GHM&A programs and the students.”   

Kaitlyn, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Towson University, began her graduate studies at UMGC in 2020. She anticipates graduating in 2022 and is a student member of the MAHCE.

“After working in a clinical setting for about five years, I realized that health care was where I wanted to build my career. But instead of doing clinical work, I wanted to make a difference not only in the lives of our patients, but in the lives of the staff taking care of those patients,” Kaitlyn said. “When I stumbled upon the Healthcare Administration Master’s Degree Program at UMGC, learned the details of it and what it could mean for my career, and then applied it to my existing skills, I realized that the administrative side of health care was for me.

“One of my HCAD professors posted an opportunity for students to get involved in the MAHCE as the student board member and, after taking a chance, I was nominated,” she added.

MAHCE, founded in 1973, fosters professional development and collaboration among health care professionals. The organization is a local member of the Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, an international professional society.

“This nomination has already given me the opportunity to connect with health care executives that provide real-life insight to the existing trends in the health care system. Working alongside my fellow board members, I can delve into the world of health care administration and apply my learning not only to my schoolwork but to my future career endeavors,” Kaitlyn noted.

“Being connected to health care through my schoolwork, my job, and as a student board member with the MAHCE, I am able to build the skills I will need to help lead our health care system.”

Three Doctor of Management in Community College Policy and Administration Faculty Members Receive Accolades

Adelphi, Md. (Aug. 19, 2021)— University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is pleased to announce that three Doctor of Management in Community College Policy and Administration (DMCCPA) faculty members received distinguished honors in their industry. Trudy Bers, Ph.D., Gena Glickman, Ph.D., and Charlene Nunley Ph.D., all adjunct professors of DMCCPA, were recently recognized.

Trudy Bers

“The awards and honors given to UMGC faculty members in the community college doctoral program represent the highest levels of achievement,” said Reynaldo Garcia, Ph.D., professor and program director of the DMCCPA program. “That our doctoral program students have the privilege of working with individuals who are at top of our field is a testament to the high quality of our program and our university. I know of no other community college doctoral program that can match the level of achievement in the long list of awards our faculty received this year. I am humbled and honored to work with these outstanding scholars and teachers.”

Trudy Bers was honored with the 2021 Sidney Suslow Scholar Award from the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). As a 2021 awardee, Bers, who was acknowledged through her scholarly work as stated by AIR, “has made significant contributions to the field of institutional research and advanced understanding of the profession in a meaningful way.”

In addition to teaching at UMGC, she is president of The Bers Group, an education consulting organization. Bers is also the former executive director of research, curriculum and planning at Oakton Community College, and a data coach for more than 20 Achieving the Dream Colleges. See Bers bio

Gena Glickman

Gena Glickman was elected to serve as chair of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is the national advocate and institutional voice for academic quality through accreditation.

Since 2018, Glickman has led Massasoit Community College as president and prior to this, she spent 10 years as president of Manchester Community College. Focused on student success, academic excellence and community engagement, Glickman has managed initiatives, wrote articles on higher education issues, and presented at national conferences. View Glickman’s bio

Charlene Nunley

Furthermore, the founding director of the UMGC’s DMCCPA program, Charlene Nunley was awarded the 2021 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Leadership Award earlier this summer. AACC’s award honors individuals who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments and professional contributions to the community college field.

Nunley was the president of Montgomery College for eight years before coming to UMGC. She spearheaded Montgomery College into the top five national community colleges in private fundraising for three consecutive years. In the past, Nunley co-chaired a statewide task force that examined capacity challenges facing Maryland’s public colleges and universities. Read Nunley’s bio

About University of Maryland Global Campus

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

Developing a Sense of Community Key to Successful Online Classes

A recent virtual panel discussion—entitled “Successful Online Academic Programs” and organized by the Chronicle of Higher Ed—focused on what institutions will do with their online capabilities as they explore the potential of the digital-first classroom post-pandemic. It also delved into the lessons these same schools have learned about operating successfully from more established online players.

Joining moderator Ian Wilhelm, an assistant managing editor at the Chronicle, was University of Maryland Global Campus Chief Student Affairs Officer Martina Hansen, along with Evangeline Cummings, assistant provost and director of the University of Florida’s online program; Peter Shea, a University of Albany education professor, who had been the associate provost for online learning; and Jarris Taylor, director of Hampton University’s online program.

The panelists agreed that the question will be whether students will want to continue studying online, and if not, how quickly they will jettison “Zoom U” in favor of the traditional on-campus experience.  What happens in the next couple of years may transform higher education.

If traditional, brick-and-mortar universities choose to continue providing online instruction post-pandemic, they will have to enhance the online experience to ensure that students feel part of an academic community.

As a pioneer in online education, UMGC can offer practical advice on what makes these courses and programs work.

“Have you ever shown up for a party [where you] didn’t know anyone, and you felt really lonely and probably left early?” Hansen asked. “When our students are showing up in an online classroom, how do [we] help them feel a sense of belonging?”

One of the first assignments in each class is to post something about yourself to the discussion board, she said, including your goals, background, and what brought you to UMGC. Many students are veterans or active service personnel, and they quickly find they have other things in common.

“It seems so simple, but that helps people feel like they are not alone,” she said.

Hansen added that students also want to feel a part of their program, so it helps to find ways to connect them to other students with the same major and program-related activities. Students need to know that the program is right for them, see their path forward, and understand where it will lead.

Equally important, they need to be able to find support online just as students would on campus, whether around financial aid, clubs and organizations, or registration and transcripts.

The online experience must be about flexibility, Hansen said, so students studying online must be able to do everything just as easily as their counterparts on campus. And they also need the mental and emotional support to help them navigate the personal and academic challenges online students often encounter—especially when they are adult learners juggling full-time jobs, families, or military responsibilities.

While Hansen said UMGC conducts regular student surveys, hearing directly from students is one vital component that generates more nuanced feedback. The university’s Student Advisory Council provides regular feedback on how the institution can improve, she said, and that has informed decision-making around the availability of academic support resources and how to get help from tutors, librarians and success coaches.

“Outreach to students is really critical,” Hansen added, “just keeping a pulse on how students are doing and helping them individually to overcome challenges.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About University of Maryland Global Campus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)

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

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

In 1949, UMGC became the first institution to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe. The university expanded overseas operations to Asia in 1956 and to the Middle East in 2005. UMGC faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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

Pierceall’s Education Journey Includes Four UMGC Degrees

Like many teenagers who did not excel in high school, Tanner Pierceall looked to the military for a career path. Admitting that he almost did not earn his diploma, he left his home in Bloomington, Ca., and enlisted in the Marines four months after graduation.

Yet now, 10 years later, Pierceall has finished his fourth University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) degree, counting on his newly minted MBA to help propel him higher in his work for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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UMGC Opens Permanent Education Office at Morón Air Base in Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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