UMUC Europe Celebrates 70 Years with Scholarships and More

Celebrating 70 Years

Celebrating 70 Years of Serving the Military in War and Peace #70UMUCEurope

In 1949, UMUC was the only pioneering institution to send seven professors to teach military students in war-torn Germany. This deep-rooted tradition of serving the militay in war and peace continues today. To thank you for your service and for making these past 70 years possible, we are offering special opportunities and events in your communities to celebrate with you. Here are a few current highlights:

A Brief History of UMUC Europe

  • 1947 — UMUC’s precursor, the University of Maryland College of Special and Continuation Studies, known as CSCS, is established to coordinate expanding off-campus offerings. The Pentagon exceeds its capacity to accommodate the number of officers who wish to register. Registration lines begin forming at increasingly early hours; some determined registrants even camp overnight in the Pentagon concourse.
  • 1949 — At the behest of an enthusiastic and determined Col. William C. Bentley, who was taking courses at the Pentagon, the U.S. Air Force Command issues a proposal for off-campus programs overseas. University of Maryland is chosen for Europe.
  • 1949 — In August, the first CSCS Dean, George J. Kabat, travels to Europe to confer with military leaders and visit potential sites. Upon his return to the states, he locates seven faculty members who, with one week’s notice, board a plane on October 2 to teach at six sites in war-torn Germany—Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Nürnberg, and Heidelberg.
  • 1950 — Ray Ehrensberger arrives in Germany in February as the first director of a rapidly expanding program.
  • 1950 — Thanks to the persistence of Claire Swan, a recent high school graduate whose father is the community commander of McGraw Kaserne, Maryland opens its “Munich Branch,” later known as the Munich Campus, in October. It allows military dependents to begin their college education without returning to the United States. It remains a major part of the UMUC program until it closes in 2005.
  • 1951 — In April, at a special Convocation in Bonn, Germany, University of Maryland President H. C. Byrd confers honorary degrees on Konrad Adenauer and Theodor Heuss, Germany’s first postwar chancellor and president, respectively; the rectors of the Free University of Berlin and the University of Bonn; and the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.
  • 1951 — In May, the first bachelor’s degree in Europe is awarded to Air Force Colonel William C. Bentley, who started his studies at the Pentagon.
  • 1953 — The European Division expands not only to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the Netherlands, but also to non-European countries like Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
  • 1959 — Dean Ray Ehrensberger convinces the University of Maryland Board of Regents to change the college’s name to University College, a term borrowed from British usage to describe an institution that offers courses and programs to all students regardless of gender, social class, or religion.
  • 1970 — The University of Maryland is reorganized, and University College becomes one of five separately accredited institutions. Its name is changed to University of Maryland University College—the name that UMUC bears to this day.
  • 1980s — With the military build-up during the Reagan administration, the European Division sees growing enrollments and increases in the number of countries where courses are offered.
    Total course enrollments reach 130,000 by the end of the decade, faculty teach at more than 260 locations in 17 countries as far flung as Moscow, Cairo, and Bahrain.
  • 1989 — The Berlin Wall falls, and with the end of the Cold War, UMUC’s enrollments in Europe begin to decline. As U.S. bases close and troops are withdrawn, enrollments drop from a high of 130,000 in 1989–90 to 79,000 in 1996–97.
  • 1992 — The overseas graduating class is the largest in the history of the European Division as military personnel rush to complete programs and upgrade their skills before they are withdrawn from Europe and separated from the military.
  • 1993 — UMUC officially launches its “virtual university,” offering students across the United States the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree by computer conferencing and e-mail.
  • 1996 — European Division faculty learn a new military expression—downrange—as U.S. troops are stationed in war zones and UMUC opens programs in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, and later in Iraq and Afghanistan. Faculty live on base with servicemembers and at some locations are not allowed to venture off base.
  • 1997 — UMUC offers its first web-based courses, and other forms of distance learning are phased out. Growth of online courses is so rapid that, within a decade, 80 percent of all stateside undergraduate enrollments are for online classes.
  • 2008 — UMUC was the first university to offer on-site classes in Iraq.
  • 2009 — The first recognition ceremony in Iraq was held at Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad.
  • 2013 — UMUC closes its Heidelberg offices and moves to the Kaiserslautern military community area, where the largest concentration of remaining U.S. troops is located. Within the last graduating class in Heidelberg was Lauren Bentley, the great granddaughter of the first UMUC graduate Col. William C. Bentley.
  • 2017 — UMUC Europe offers courses via live streaming using Zoom. Among its many benefits, this popular, innovative format widens the course offerings for remote sites with small student populations.
  • 2018 — Since the 1970s, UMUC Europe has offered week-long, on-site field study courses in major European destinations such as Florence or Dublin. A reorganization of these one-of-a-kind courses began in 2018.
  • 2019 — UMUC Europe commemorates its 70th anniversary. UMUC Europe has awarded more than 35,000 associate degrees, 31,000 bachelor’s degrees, and 800 master’s degrees.

More UMUC Europe News