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UMUC gets go-ahead on concept for new business model

University of Maryland University College got the go-ahead on Thursday to pursue changes to its business model after a committee of the Board of Regents voted unanimously to advance the matter to the full board.

The committee vote is a relatively mundane piece of a long process that began over the summer — when UMUC first announced it was reexamining its operations — and will likely continue for at least a few more months.

UMUC, which is part of the University System of Maryland, offers primarily online education for nontraditional students. But competition in the online education space has grown fiercer as for-profit schools flood the market and other universities launch more online classes.

In response, UMUC initiated a comprehensive review of its mission and place in the market. With help from outside advisers and internal stakeholders, UMUC evaluated several possible options for restructuring its business model.

Ultimately, the school decided to remain a nonprofit institution that’s part of the USM but has more autonomy, by seeking certain exemptions from state rules governing human resources/personnel issues, procurement procedures and policies regarding protections for proprietary and competitive information.

To implement those changes, UMUC needs approval from the Board of Regents, and in some cases, the Maryland General Assembly.

The Board of Regents Finance committee approved the overall concept of the new business model on Thursday. UMUC President Javier Miyares and USM Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan will now hash out more details and present an even more comprehensive proposal to the full Board.

“We’re happy we made it through this particular part of the process,” said UMUC spokesman Bob Ludwig. “I heard nothing but support [from committee members]. They were obviously interested in what the details will be, but that’s the next part of the process.”

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.

2 comments

  1. In fact, the process began last spring when a secretive Board of Regents work group set to work on UMUC’s enrollment and financial problems. Despite repeated requests by UMUC’s Faculty Governance council, to provide input, the work group operated in secret. An Ideation group, consisting of business persons, and expressly excluding all faculty input, joined in the report. The resulting plan announced in the summer was in fact a fait accompli by then. All the pomp and circumstance of community consultation was an exercise in deceit and showmanship. UMUC has been on a downward spiral because it refuses to maintain educational quality, and disdains the experience and input of its seasoned professional faculty. Following every technological fad and insisting on uniformity and standardization rather than quality of educational offerings, it has now convinced the Board of Regents that UMUC can continue to pump money into the system if it does one better in low cost low quality education than the for-profits. It has convinced the Board of Regents–which took no great effort, since they participated in this from inception–that by further reducing oversight, accountability and faculty involvement, UMUC can stay afloat and continue to serve as the cash cow of the University System of Maryland. As a 27 year veteran UMUC faculty member, I know that the losers are the students, the citizens of Maryland, and the alumni of this once noble institution.

  2. I remember when I first started attending UMUC in Iwakuni, Japan my Sergeant took me to the base education office and said, “If you want to buy your degree go to Phoenix, but if you want to earn your degree like me, go to UMUC.” 15 years and an BA and MS latter I’m glad that I took his advice and went to UMUC. Lately it seems that UMUC is trying more to be like all the other degree mills such as Phoenix and the like. This is extremely sad and someone needs to fire the leadership of UMUC for ruining this college and the opportunities of so many other servicemen who will now have not choice between the two. So, glad I finished my studies before the credibility of this college takes a dive.

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