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UMUC to offer accounting, information system degrees

January 16, 2004|by BOB MAGINNIS

Whether your dream is to become an accountant or an information-systems manager, you'll be able to seek a degree in either area in Hagerstown in 2005.

That's when the University of Maryland University College will bring those programs to the University System of Maryland's Hagerstown Education Center, according to Benjamin Birge, UMUC's vice president for state and county relations.

Birge said the programs, which would allow students to complete their four-year degrees without leaving Hagerstown, will be offered as part of a partnership with Hagerstown Community College.

Birge also said UMUC would be offering scholarships for those transfer students "to reduce the sticker shock of going from community college tuition to UMUC."

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The awards would be based on need, Birge said, as identified by HCC.

The accounting program would be geared to giving students a four-year degree which they could use to pursue their CPA designations, Birge said.

The information-management courses would teach students "how to manage the IT (information technology) department for a large company and also how to manage the employees in that department," Birge said.

Community college students will be able to "co-enroll" at UMUC, Birge said, so that when they complete their work there, the transfer will be "seamless."

Birge said UMUC has committed to offering programs at the Hagerstown center for five years, but according to Gerald Heeger, UMUC's president, the commitment is anything but tentative.

"I plan to make UMUC the university of choice for Hagerstown," he said.

Heeger noted that after USM's College Park campus, UMUC is the largest institution in the system and also offers courses on-line at 120 military bases around the world.

"All this is part and parcel of the experience that we hope to bring to Hagerstown, because we need to be a much more visible presence in Western Maryland," Heeger said.

And what UMUC offers at the Hagerstown Center "will always be complemented with a rich array of offerings on-line," Heeger said.

The need for more options in education is there for a number of reasons, Heeger said, "and you have to minimize the barriers to access."

Extending that on-line came naturally, Heeger said, out of UMUC's experience in providing education to U.S. servicepeople over the last 54 years.

Andrea Martino, UMUC's public relations director, said that last year the university had 50,000 armed forces personnel and their dependents as students in 29 different countries.

Martino said that after the onset of the Internet and the World Wide Web, UMUC was able to adapt its worldwide distribution system to offer its courses on-line.

The list now includes 86 bachelor's and master's degree programs - a total of 650 separate courses - completely on-line.

In addition, she said, UMUC offers a variety of student services on-line, including application, enrollment, academic advising, financial aid counseling, a book store and a library with more than 90 databases.

What UMUC is doing is what USM officials envisioned for Hagerstown - bringing its own programs here. As competitive as UMUC sounds, the first institution to offer a program is assured that another college won't offer the same one.

If you'd like more information, visit the UMUC Web site at www.umuc.edu, or write UMUC at 3501 University Blvd., East, Adelphi, MD, 20783.

UMUC need not be the last institution to offer new programs here to add what Frostburg and the University of Maryland Nursing School already provide.

But the list will only get longer if local folks lobby the governor and the General Assembly for operating funds for 2005. The building will be done by then, so let's make sure there are a lot of good programs inside when the doors open.

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